Why Residents Visit Downtown Halifax

  • While most HRM residents have visited downtown in recent years, parking, traffic, affordability, and construction are keeping some HRM residents away, and only a minority see an improvement in how vibrant the downtown core is now.
  • Half of HRM residents would like to see an aquarium or performing arts center added to Downtown to make it a more attractive destination

May 9th, 2024

New findings from Narrative Research are helping to understand what is motivating HRM residents to visit Downtown Halifax, what is stopping them from visiting more often, and what is needed to make the downtown core a more attractive destination.

Results show that half of HRM residents are travelling Downtown for fun or leisure at least once or twice a month, with 37% visiting a few times a year. Just one in ten (11%) HRM residents say they rarely find themselves Downtown. Most downtown experiences are described as positive, and restaurants, the picturesque waterfront, and cultural events are the biggest draws.

When asked what could get them to visit Downtown more often, responses focus on increasing parking, having a wider array of cultural events, improving safety, and offering better public transportation to downtown from off the peninsula. Amenities that might encourage them to visit Downtown more often, an aquarium (49%), a new performing arts centre (48%) garner the most interest, and more family-friendly attractions (42%). Ideas generating less interest include a new art gallery (31%) and a soccer stadium (20%). 

Perceptions of Downtown Halifax have evolved, but only somewhat since the pandemic, with just a third agreeing that it has become more vibrant. While six in ten residents feel Downtown Halifax is a safe place to go, 18% do not.

Over half of residents (55%) agree that there is a lot to do Downtown, while 17% disagree. Slightly fewer (47%) say they feel at home when they visit compared to 29% who do not feel at home in Downtown Halifax. Of note, people living with disabilities are significantly less likely to say Downtown is a safe place to visit or that they feel at home when they visit.

Results are from an online survey conducted between January 26 and January 30, 2024 with 507 Halifax residents, 18 years of age or older from Narrative Research’s East Coast Voice community panel.

For more information, please contact:

Margaret Brigley, CEO & Partner, Narrative Research – 902.493.3830, mbrigley@narrativeresearch.ca

Narrative Research (www.narrativeresearch.ca), is a non-partisan, 100% Canadian-owned, research company, certified as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE). Narrative Research provides clients with state-of-the-art research and strategic consulting services. 

Data tables are available upon request. 

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