Denser, well-designed cities enjoy environmental and fiscal benefits due to less dependence on motor vehicles and more efficient use of existing infrastructure.

Key Findings

  • In the past five years, the boom in multi-unit housing starts has heavily favoured building and development within the Regional Centre (Halifax Peninsula and Dartmouth within the Circumferential Highway). As a result, housing starts during that period have very closely matched the targets for the Regional Centre, suburban, and rural housing starts laid out in the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy adopted in 2006. Building trends suggest that population growth has returned significantly to the Regional Centre. The new census population counts will show this definitively in February 2017.
                        Single-detached and multiple-unit graph

  • Public transit ridership remained flat in fiscal 2015-16 while total hours of service increased by 2.4%. This trend, which has persisted for almost a decade, shows a need to rethink the city’s approach to transit. Halifax Transit’s recently approved Moving Forward Together Plan aims to do just that.
                          Transit Graph


  • Halifax residential and commercial waste levels continued a long-term decline in 2014-15, both falling to historic lows in per capita terms. The proportion of waste diverted from landfills through recycling and composting remained steady at 61%, one of the highest rates in the country.
                          Waste Graph


  • The municipality’s fiscal health continues to be in excellent shape. The overall tax burden remained steady as a share of income in 2015-16, and the municipality has a long-term strategy of debt reduction. However, KPMG’s Competitive Alternatives 2016 report has found that when all levels of government are taken into account Halifax businesses face higher effective tax rates than benchmark cities.
                           Total Revenues Graph

Key Opportunity

Increased density of development in the Regional Centre is key to both the environmental and fiscal sustainability of Halifax. Ongoing work on the Centre Plan, Halifax Transit’s Moving Forward Together Plan, and the Integrated Mobility Plan will have significant impacts on development and livability in the Regional Centre moving forward.

Download the full 2016 Halifax Index for more information on the following topics in this section:

  • Density
  • Transportation
  • Environmental
  • Municipal Fiscal Sustainability

Halifax Index Cover

The Halifax Index 2016 (pdf)

2016 Halifax Index Workbook (.xls)