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Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia

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Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia

"Halifax, Nova Scotia" redirects here. For the 1749–1996 city, see Halifax (former city). For other uses, see Halifax, Nova Scotia (disambiguation).
Regional Municipality
Halifax Regional Municipality
Halifax Town Clock
Official logo of Halifax
Motto: "E Mari Merces"  (Latin)
"From the Sea, Wealth"

Location of Halifax Regional Municipality

Coordinates: 44°51′16″N 63°11′57″W / 44.85444°N 63.19917°W / 44.85444; -63.19917Coordinates: 44°51′16″N 63°11′57″W / 44.85444°N 63.19917°W / 44.85444; -63.19917

Country Canada
Province Nova Scotia
Established April 1, 1996
 • Type Regional Municipality
 • Mayor Mike Savage
 • Governing body Halifax Regional Council
 • MPs
 • MLAs
 • Land 5,490.18 km2 (2,119.77 sq mi)
 • Urban 262.65 km2 (101.41 sq mi)
 • Rural 5,528.25 km2 (2,134.47 sq mi)
Highest elevation 145.0 m (475.6 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Regional Municipality 413,710 (14th)[1][2]
 • Density 71.1/km2 (184/sq mi)
 • Urban 297,943
 • Urban density 1,077.2/km2 (2,790/sq mi)
 • Metro 413,700 (13th)
 • Change 2006-2011 Increase4.7%
 • Census Ranking 13 of 5,008
Demonym Haligonian
Time zone AST (UTC−4)
 • Summer (DST) ADT (UTC−3)
Postal code span B3H to B3S
Area code(s) 902
Dwellings 166,675
Median Income* $54,129 CAD
Total Coastline 400 km (250 mi)
NTS Map 011D13
  • Median household income, 2005 (all households)

The Halifax Regional Municipality (/ˈhælɨfæks/; commonly Halifax or HRM) is the capital of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. The Regional Municipality had a population of 390,096 in 2011 Canadian Census and the urban area had a population of 297,943.[4][5] Halifax is the largest population centre in Atlantic Canada and largest in Canada east of Quebec City. Halifax was ranked by MoneySense magazine as the fourth best place to live in Canada for 2012,[6] placed first on a list of "large cities by quality of life" and placed second in a list of "large cities of the future", both conducted by fDi Magazine for North and South American cities.[7]

Halifax is a major economic centre in eastern Canada with a large concentration of government services and private sector companies. Major employers and economic generators include the Department of National Defence, various levels of government, and the Port of Halifax. Agriculture, fishing, mining, forestry and natural gas extraction are major resource industries found in the rural areas of HRM.


Main articles: History of the Halifax Regional Municipality and Amalgamation of the Halifax Regional Municipality

The area comprising present day Halifax County is in the traditional territory of the Sipekni'kati district of the Mi'kmaq people. Those who settled on Halifax Harbour called it Jipugtug (anglicised as "Chebucto"), meaning Great Harbour.

The first permanent European settlement in the HRM was on the Halifax Peninsula. The establishment of the Town of Halifax, named after the British Earl of Halifax, in 1749 led to the colonial capital being transferred from Annapolis Royal. The establishment of Halifax marked the beginning of Father Le Loutre's War. The war began when Edward Cornwallis arrived to establish Halifax with 13 transports and a sloop of war on June 21, 1749.[8] By unilaterally establishing Halifax the British were violating earlier treaties with the Mi'kmaq (1726), which were signed after Father Rale's War.[9] Cornwallis brought along 1,176 settlers and their families. To guard against Mi'kmaq, Acadian, and French attacks on the new Protestant settlements, British fortifications were erected in Halifax (Citadel Hill)(1749), Bedford (Fort Sackville) (1749), Dartmouth (1750), and Lawrencetown (1754), all areas within the HRM. St. Margaret's Bay was first settled by French-speaking Foreign Protestants at French Village, Nova Scotia who migrated from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia during the American Revolution.

December 1917 saw one of the greatest disasters in Canadian history, when the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship carrying munitions, collided with another vessel SS Imo between upper Halifax Harbour and Bedford Basin. The resulting explosion, the Halifax Explosion, devastated the Richmond District of Halifax, killing approximately 2,000 people and injuring nearly 9,000 other.[10] The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons.[11]

In 1996 the provincial government amalgamated all municipal governments within Halifax County to create HRM, a regional municipality comprising approximately 200 individual communities or placenames for civic addressing grouped into eighteen planning areas for zoning purposes.

HRM's boundary includes all of Halifax County except for several First Nation reserves. Statistics Canada identifies HRM as a census subdivision while Halifax County is listed as a census division, despite the fact that both geographic areas differ by only several dozen hectares. Statistics Canada also lists the dissolved municipalities of Bedford, Dartmouth and Halifax, describing them as "Dissolved (municipalities) having undergone an amalgamation/dissolution."[12]

Unlike most municipalities with a sizable census metropolitan area, Halifax Regional Municipality's suburbs have been completely incorporated into the entire municipality (often by referendum. For example, the community of Spryfield, in the Mainland South area, voted to amalgamate with Halifax in 1968), with the urban area including the urban core, suburban communities and a rural commuter shed that encompasses almost half the municipality's landmass.

Cityscape and landscape

Metropolitan Halifax

Main article: Metropolitan Halifax

Metropolitan Halifax is a term used to roughly describe the urban concentration surrounding Halifax Harbour in the western part of the municipality, and includes the Halifax Metropolitan Area, the Dartmouth Metropolitan Area, and the Bedford-Sackville areas. It is the urban area of HRM (2011 pop: 297,943)[4] and is located in the western end of the municipality, fronting on Halifax Harbour. The dense urban core is centred on the Halifax Peninsula and the area of Dartmouth inside of the Circumferential Highway. The suburban area stretches beyond Mainland Halifax to the west, Cole Harbour to the east, and Bedford, Lower Sackville and Windsor Junction areas to the north.[13]

This urban area constitutes the most populous urban area on Canada's Atlantic coast, and the second largest coastal population centre in the country, after Vancouver, British Columbia. HRM currently accounts for 40% of Nova Scotia's population, and 15% of that of Atlantic Canada.


HRM's urban core is home to a number of regional landmark buildings and retains some significant historic buildings. The downtown's mid level office towers are overlooked by the fortress of Citadel Hill with its iconic Halifax Town Clock.

The architecture of Halifax's South End is renowned for its grand Victorian houses while the West End and North End, Halifax have many blocks of well preserved wooden residential houses with notable features such as the "Halifax Porch". Dalhousie University's campus is often featured in films and documentaries. Dartmouth also has its share of historic neighbourhoods.

The urban core is home to several blocks of typical North American high-rise office buildings, however segments of the downtown are governed by height restrictions which prevent buildings from obstructing certain sight lines between Citadel Hill and Halifax Harbour. This has resulted in some modern high rises being built at unusual angles or locations.

In recent decades, there has been conflict between groups[which?] in favour of development and groups[which?] seeking to preserve heritage buildings. The former have been characterized as threatening the historic character of the city, while the latter have been accused of stifling growth. Much municipal consultation in recent years, such as the HRM by Design project, has focused on how to allow modernization and development while preserving heritage structures.

10 Tallest Buildings in Halifax
Name Height Floors
Fenwick Tower 322 feet (98 m) 32
Purdy's Wharf Tower 2 289 feet (88 m) 22
1801 Hollis Street 285 feet (87 m) 22
Barrington Tower 276 feet (84 m) 20
Cogswell Tower 259 feet (79 m) 20
Maritime Centre 256 feet (78 m) 21
Queen Square 246 feet (75 m) 19
Purdy's Wharf Tower 1 243 feet (74 m) 18
Bank of Montreal Building 240 feet (73 m) 18
TD Tower 240 feet (73 m) 18

Public spaces

Rural area

Rural communities of HRM

The municipality is centred on the urban core and surrounded by areas of decreasing density the farther the community is from the core. Rural areas lie to the east, west and north of this urban core. Certain rural communities on the urban fringe function as suburban or exurban areas, with the majority of those residents working in the urban core. Farther away, rural communities in HRM function much as any resource-based area in Nova Scotia, being sparsely populated, with their local economies developing around four major resource industries: agriculture, fishing, mining and forestry. It should be noted that the tourism industry is beginning to change how some rural communities in HRM function, particularly in coastal areas such as Hubbards, Peggys Cove and Lawrencetown.

The north eastern area centred on Sheet Harbour and the Musquodoboit Valley is completely rural, with more in common with adjacent rural areas of neighbouring counties.

Neighbourhoods and communities

The Halifax Regional Municipality is an amalgamation of four municipal governments in the urban and rural areas, therefore its composition of neighbourhoods and communities is unlike other municipalities such as a city.

There are over 200[14] official rural and urban communities within Halifax County that have maintained their original geographic names (including the dissolved cities of Halifax and Dartmouth and the town of Bedford). These community names are used on survey and mapping documents, for 9-1-1 service, municipal planning, and postal service.

HRM is divided into eighteen community planning areas which are further divided into neighbourhoods or villages.[15] The regional municipality has taken steps to reduce duplicate street names for its 9-1-1 emergency dispatch services; at the time of amalgamation, some street names were duplicated several times throughout HRM.[16]


The urban area of Halifax Regional Municipality is a major cultural centre within the Atlantic provinces. The municipality's urban core also benefits from a large population of post-secondary students who strongly influence the local cultural scene. HRM has a number of art galleries, theatres and museums, as well as most of the region's national-quality sports and entertainment facilities. The municipality is home to many performance venues, namely the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, the Neptune Theatre, and The Music Room. HRM also is the home to many of the region's major cultural attractions, such as Halifax Pop Explosion, Symphony Nova Scotia, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, The Khyber, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Neptune Theatre. On special occasions, the city will put on a fireworks display which is best viewed from a boat. The region is noted for the strength of its music scene and nightlife, especially in the central urban core. See List of musical groups from Halifax, Nova Scotia for a partial list.

HRM plays host to a wide variety of festivals that take place throughout the year, including: The Atlantic Film Festival, The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, The Halifax Busker Festival, Greekfest, The Atlantic Jazz Festival, The Multicultural Festival, The largest Canada Day celebration east of Ottawa, Natal Day, periodic Tall Ship events, and Shakespeare by the Sea, to name a few. Many of these celebrations have become world renowned over the past several years.

HRM has also become a significant film-production centre, with many American and Canadian filmmakers using the streetscapes, often to stand in for other cities that are more expensive to work in. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has its Atlantic Canada production centres (radio and television) based in Halifax, and quite a number of radio and television programs are made in the region for national broadcast.

HRM is considered by many to be the cultural centre of the Maritimes. The municipality has been able to maintain many of its maritime and military traditions, while opening itself to a growing multicultural population.


HRM's tourism industry showcases Nova Scotia's culture, scenery and coastline.

HRM has many museums reflecting its ethnic heritage, including the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia. Others museums tell the story of its working history, such as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

HRM is home to several internationally renowned events such as the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, the Atlantic Film Festival and the Atlantic Fringe Festival.

The HRM has numerous National Historic Sites, the most notable being Citadel Hill (Fort George) in Halifax.

The iconic Peggys Cove is internationally recognized and receives 600,000 plus visitors a year.[17]

Cruise ships pay regular visits to the province. In 2010, Halifax received 261,000 passengers and Sydney 69,000.[18]


The Halifax Regional Municipality has various recreational areas, including ocean and lake beaches and rural and urban parks. It has a host of organised community intramural sports at various facilities. Public schools and post-secondary institutions offer varsity and intramural sports.

The region is home to several semi-professional sport franchises, including the Halifax Rainmen of the NBL Canada and the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The region has hosted several major sporting events, including the 2003 World Junior Hockey Championship, 2003 Nokia Brier, the 2004 Women's World Ice Hockey Championships, and 2007 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship. From 1984 to 2007, the region was home to the CIS Men's Basketball Championship; the tournament was moved to Ottawa, Ontario, from 2008 to 2010 and returned to Halifax in 2011 and 2012. The 72nd Ice Hockey World Championship was held between May 2 and May 18, 2008, in Halifax and Quebec City.

Halifax was selected in 2006 as the host city in Canada's bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games but withdrew on March 8, 2007, well before the November 9, 2007, selection date.

In February 2011, the municipality hosted the 2011 Canada Winter Games.

On May 26, 2013, the Halifax Mooseheads capped a 74-win season (going 74-7-3-1[19]) by defeating the Portland Winterhawks 6-4 in the MasterCard Memorial Cup Final, earning their first Memorial Cup in the process.[20]

Halifax is also home to several Rugby clubs, notably the Halifax Rugby Football Club and the Halifax Tars. The city is now also home to an Australian Rules Football team, a Hurley team and a Gaelic Football team.


HRM is the Maritimes' centre for broadcast and print media. CBC Television, CTV Television Network (CTV), and Global Television Network all have regional television hubs in the municipality. CBC Radio has a major regional studio and there are also regional hubs for Rogers Radio and various private broadcast franchises, as well as a regional bureau for The Canadian Press/Broadcast News.

HRM's print media is centred on its single daily newspaper, the broadsheet Chronicle Herald as well as two free newspapers, the daily commuter-oriented edition of Metro International and the free alternative arts weekly The Coast. Frank provides HRM with a bi-weekly satirical and gossip magazine.

From 1974-2008, HRM had a second daily newspaper, the tabloid The Daily News which still publishes several neighbourhood weekly papers such as The Bedford-Sackville Weekly News, The Halifax West-Clayton Park Weekly News and the Dartmouth-Cole Harbour Weekly News. These weekly papers compete with The Chronicle-Herald's weekly Community Heralds HRM West, HRM East, and HRM North.



The Halifax Regional Municipality occupies an area of 5,577 square kilometres (2,353 sq mi),[21] (approximately 10% of Nova Scotia) comparable to the province of Prince Edward Island, and measures approximately 165 kilometres (102.5 mi) in length between its eastern and western-most extremities, not including Sable Island. The nearest point of land to Sable Island is not actually in HRM, but rather in adjacent Guysborough County, however, Sable Island is considered part of District 13 in HRM.

The coastline is heavily indented, accounting for its length of approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi), with the northern boundary usually being between 50-60 kilometres (30-37 mi) inland. The coast is mostly rock with small isolated sand beaches in sheltered bays. The largest bays include St. Margarets Bay, Halifax Harbour/Bedford Basin, Cole Harbour, Musquodoboit Harbour, Jeddore Harbour, Ship Harbour, Sheet Harbour, and Ecum Secum Harbour. The municipality's topography spans from lush farmland in the Musquodoboit Valley to rocky and heavily forested rolling hills. It includes a number of islands and peninsulas, among them McNabs Island, Beaver Island, Melville Island, and Deadman's Island.


Despite its coastal location, the climate of HRM is humid continental (Köppen Dfb), due to the prevailing westerly winds blowing from the mainland of the continent. HRM's climate is, however, heavily influenced by its location on Nova Scotia's Atlantic coast. The weather is usually milder or cooler than that of central Canada, with the temperature remaining (with occasional notable exceptions) between about −15 °C and 25 °C (5 °F to 77 °F) inland. Coastal sections have even less range due to strong maritime influence. Precipitation is high year-round; snow, rain and ice mixes are common in the winter, though sometimes it is mild and rainy. Halifax often receives tropical storms, mostly between August and October. They are very rarely at hurricane force when they make landfall, the most recent exception being when Hurricane Juan, a Category 2 storm, hit in September 2003, and Hurricane Earl which grazed the coast as a Category 1 storm in 2010. Atlantic sea surface temperatures off the coast of Nova Scotia were warmer than normal those years, and the accelerated storm tracks did not allow for the weakening that usually occurs with hurricanes moving over the colder waters of the Nova Scotia coast after passing the Gulf Stream.


The Halifax Regional Municipality comprises 390,096 residents (2011 census). In 2006 approximately 18% of the population was under the age of 14, while 11% were 65 and older.

Mother tongue language (2011)[24]

Language Population Pct (%)
English only 348,515 90.24%
French only 10,155 2.63%
Non-official languages 23,855 6.18%
Multiple responses 3,675 0.95%

Ethnic origins

Ethnic Origin Population  % of Total[25]
Canadian 139,035 37.7
English 126,210 34.2
Scottish 110,065 29.8
Irish 90,650 24.5
French 66,400 18.0
German 44,615 12.1
Dutch 14,640 4.0
North American Indian 12,650 3.4
Welsh 8,220 2.2
British Isles, not included elsewhere 7,045 1.9
Italian 6,700 1.8
Polish 5,375 1.5
Acadian 5,270 1.4
Ukrainian 4,030 1.1
Lebanese 3,895 1.1
Chinese 3,720 1.0
African, not included elsewhere 3,480 0.9
Black 3,205 0.8

Religious belief



The urban area of Halifax Regional Municipality is a major economic centre in eastern Canada with a large concentration of government services and private sector companies. Halifax serves as the business, banking, government and cultural centre for the Maritime region. Major employers and economic generators include the Department of National Defence, as well as the Port of Halifax. The municipality has a growing concentration of manufacturing industries and is becoming a major multi-modal transportation hub through growth at the port, the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, and improving rail and highway connections. A real estate boom in recent years has led to numerous new property developments, including the gentrification of some former working-class areas.

Agriculture, fishing, mining, forestry and natural gas extraction are major resource industries found in the rural areas of HRM. HRM's largest agricultural district is in the Musquodoboit Valley; the total number of farms in HRM is 150, of which 110 are family-owned. Fishing harbours are located along all coastal areas with some having an independent harbour authority, and others being managed as small craft harbours under the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Other resource industries in HRM include the natural gas fields off the coast of Sable Island, as well as clay, shale, gold, limestone, and gypsum extraction in rural areas of the mainland portion of the municipality.


The Halifax Regional Municipality is governed by a mayor (elected at large) and a sixteen person council, who are elected by geographic district; municipal elections occur every four years. HRM has established community councils where three or more councillors agree to form these councils to deal primarily with local development issues. Most community council decisions are subject to final approval by regional council. The current Mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality is Mike Savage.

The Halifax Regional Council is responsible for all facets of municipal government, including the Halifax Regional Police, Halifax Public Libraries, Halifax Fire and Emergency, Halifax Regional Water Commission, parks and recreation, civic addressing, public works, waste management, and planning and development.


The Halifax Regional Municipality has a well-developed network of public and private schools, providing instruction from primary to grade twelve; one hundred and thirty seven public schools are administered by the Halifax Regional School Board, as well as four public schools administered by the Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial, whereas the fourteen private schools are operated independently.

The municipality is also home to the following post-secondary educational institutions: Dalhousie University, Saint Mary's University, Mount Saint Vincent University, the Halifax campus of Université Sainte-Anne, University of King's College, Atlantic School of Theology, NSCAD University, Nova Scotia Community College, and the Centre for Arts and Technology. The presence of so many university and college students contributes to a vibrant youth culture in the region, as well as making it a major centre for university education in eastern Canada.


Halifax Harbour is a major port used by numerous shipping lines, administered by the Halifax Port Authority. The Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard have major installations along prominent sections of coastline in both Halifax and Dartmouth. The harbour is also home to a public ferry service connecting downtown Halifax to two locations in Dartmouth. Sheet Harbour is the other major port in the municipality and serves industrial shippers on the Eastern Shore.

The Halifax Port Authority's various shipping terminals constitute the eastern terminus of Canadian National Railway's transcontinental network. Via Rail Canada provides overnight passenger rail service from the Halifax Railway Station six days a week to Montreal with the Ocean, a train equipped with sleeper cars that stops in major centres along the way, such as Moncton. The Halifax Railway Station also serves as the terminus for Acadian Lines intercity buses which serve destinations across Atlantic Canada.

Halifax Stanfield International Airport serves HRM and most of the province, providing scheduled flights to domestic and international destinations. Shearwater, part of CFB Halifax, is the air base for maritime helicopters employed by the Royal Canadian Navy and is located on the eastern side of Halifax Harbour.

The municipality's urban core is linked by the Angus L. Macdonald and A. Murray MacKay suspension bridges, as well as the network of 100-series highways which function as expressways. The Armdale traffic circle is an infamous choke point for vehicle movement in the western part of the urban core, especially at rush hour.

The urban core of HRM is served by Metro Transit, which operates standard bus routes, bus-rapid transit routes, as well as the pedestrian-only harbour ferries. Established in 1752, the municipality's ferry service is the oldest continuously running salt water ferry service in North America.[27]

Sister cities

Notable Haligonians




  • Sidney Crosby - Professional ice hockey player for the Pittsburgh Penguins
  • George Dixon - first black world boxing champion in any weight class, first ever Canadian-born boxing champion
  • TJ Grant - Professional mixed martial artist and UFC Lightweight title contender. Most successful Canadian lightweight fighter in MMA history.
  • Colleen Jones - Most successful Canadian women's skip in curling history
  • Brad Marchand - Professional ice hockey player for the Boston Bruins




See also

Nova Scotia portal

Further reading

Laffoley, Steven (2007). Hunting Halifax: in search of history, mystery and murder. Pottersfield Press. ISBN 978-1895900934



External links

  • Halifax Regional Municipality
  • Photographs of historic monuments in Halifax Regional Municipality
  • Flags of Halifax and Halifax Regional Municipality
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