If Halifax was friend of mine (and I like to think it is) I would be forced to take Halifax to out for a coffee, sit down in a private corner, and talk about what direction Halifax is taking with it’s life.
“Halifax,” I would say, “you are a comfortably mature city with a lot going for it, but you are obsessed with being ‘world class,’ it’s all you seem to talk about these days!”
Halifax would stare into it’s coffee, wiggling uncomfortably in its seat, knowing where I am going with this, and not wanting to hear it.
“You have a great thing going on, you are a great city, lots of local colour, lots of stuff to do, a great place to raise a family, why all the worry?”
There is no answer, of course. “World class”, big ticket, expense, mega-events and facilities are alluring, attractive, and, in the past, an easy sell.
It was far easier for leaders in the community to present an expensive, one stop solution to a myriad of the municipality’s ills. Something flashy, exciting, that will look great on ribbon cutting day.
These proposals have begun to run into what has become an almost automatic resistance from rank and file Haligonians, the little people, who vote, pay taxes, and quietly live their lives here.
Every day citizens no longer trust government and it’s agencies to give them the straight goods when it comes to mega-projects.
Too much blood was spilt and pain endured to balance the provincial budget. Too many necessary and vital services have been cut and cut again to ensure both provincial solvency and later, growth and a positive economic outlook.
People are not afraid of change, far from it. It is simply that regular folks have a laundry list of less sexy priorities that they want to see funded first.
There are plenty of things that, far from demanding new funding, are still waiting for funding to be restored at an adequate and sustainable level. More community ice rinks, more pools, more basketball nets, more resources in the schools, better rec centres, more money for events that are already here, a municipal museum, a municipal art gallery are just few.
Instead of massive projects, let’s talk small. Let’s create world class neighbourhoods and and lead the nation in recreation, sports and education on a park by park, neighbourhood by neighbourhood basis.
“Halifax,” I would say, “focus on your strengths, build on them, and remember the families. Don’t worry about that movie star sexy stuff, just be yourself, the best self you can be. You won’t regret it.”