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Halifax Regional Municipality is the capital of the province of Nova Scotiamarker, Canadamarker. The municipality is commonly called Halifax( ) or formally, HRM.

The population in 2006 was 372,679; the urban area of HRMmarker had a population of 282,924, giving the municipality the largest urban area in Atlantic Canadamarker and largest population centre in Canada east of Quebec Citymarker. According to Statistics Canada the census metropolitan area[72413] of Halifax reached 394,600 in 2008

HRM's urban areamarker 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 Halifaxmarker. Agriculture, fishing, mining, forestry and natural gas extraction are major resource industries found in the rural areas of HRM.


The area comprising present day Halifax County was settled for thousands of years by the Mi'kmaq. Those who settled on Halifax Harbourmarker called it Jipugtug (anglicised as "Chebucto"), meaning Great Harbour. The first permanent European settlement in the area was the establishment of the Town of Halifaxmarker in 1749 when the colonial capital was transferred from Annapolis Royalmarker; other towns and villages were established throughout adjacent areas of what would become Halifax County in the decades that followed.

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 18 planning areas for zoning purposes.


The Halifax Regional Municipality occupies an area of 5,577 square kilometres (2,353 sq mi), (approximately 10% of Nova Scotia) comparative to the province of Prince Edward Islandmarker, and measures approximately 165 kilometres (102.5 mi) in length between its eastern and western-most extremities.

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 Baymarker, Halifax Harbourmarker/Bedford Basinmarker, Cole Harbourmarker, Musquodoboit Harbourmarker, Jeddore Harbour, Ship Harbour, Sheet Harbourmarker, and Ecum Secummarker Harbour. The municipality's topography spans from lush farmland in the Musquodoboit Valleymarker to rocky and heavily forested rolling hills.

Urban-rural characteristics

Urban, Suburban, Rural divisions of HRM as defined by HRM Planning Department

The municipality is large in physical area, centred on the urban core and surrounded by areas of decreasing density the farther the community is from the core.

Unlike most municipalities with a sizable census metropolitan area, Halifax Regional Municipality's suburbs are completely incorporated into the entire municipality, with the urban area including the urban core, suburban communities and a rural commuter shed that encompasses almost half the municipality's landmass.

The urban area of HRM (2006 pop: 282,924) is located in the western end of the municipality, fronting on Halifax Harbourmarker. The dense urban core is centred on the Halifax Peninsulamarker and the area of Dartmouthmarker inside of the Circumferential Highwaymarker. The suburban area stretches beyond Mainland Halifaxmarker to the west, Cole Harbourmarker to the east, and Bedfordmarker, Lower Sackvillemarker and Windsor Junction areas to the north.

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 Columbiamarker. HRM currently accounts for 40% of Nova Scotia's population, and 15% of that of the Atlantic provincesmarker.

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

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)."

Neighbourhoods and communities

Detail of HRM Community Planning Areas

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 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. Several communities or neighbourhoods that were amalgamated by the former constituent municipalities in previous decades are starting to see their names gain increased use. 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.

The urban core of HRMmarker is a term used to roughly describe the urban concentration surrounding Halifax Harbourmarker in the western part of the municipality, and includes the Halifax Metropolitan Area, the Dartmouth Metropolitan Area, and the Bedford-Sackville areas. 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 Hubbardsmarker, Peggys Covemarker and Lawrencetownmarker.


HRM's climate is heavily influenced by its location on Nova Scotia's Atlanticmarker 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 35°C (5°F to 95°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, sometimes it is mild and rainy. Halifax often receives tropical storms mostly between August and October. They are very rarely in Hurricane form when they make landfall, the most recent exception was when Hurricane Juan, a Category 2 storm hit in September 2003. Atlantic sea surface temperatures off the coast of Nova Scotia were warmer than normal that year and the accelerated storm track did not allow for the usual weakening that usually occurs with hurricanes moving over the colder waters of the Nova Scotia coast after passing the Gulfstream.



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.
employers and economic generators include the Department of National Defence, as well as the Port of Halifaxmarker. 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 Airportmarker, 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 Valleymarker; 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.


Halifax skyline at night.
The Halifax Regional Municipality is governed by a mayor (elected at large) and a twenty-three 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 Peter J. Kelly.

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


Halifax's Historic Properties.

The Halifax Regional Municipality has a well-developed network of public and private schools, providing instruction from primary to grade12; one hundred and thirty seven public schools are administered by the Halifax Regional School Boardmarker, as well as three 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 Universitymarker, Saint Mary's Universitymarker, Mount Saint Vincent Universitymarker, the Halifax campus of Université Sainte-Annemarker, University of King's Collegemarker, Atlantic School of Theologymarker, NSCAD Universitymarker, the Centre for Arts and Technology, and the Nova Scotia Community Collegemarker. 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.


The urban area of Halifax Regional Municipality is a major cultural centre within the Atlantic provincesmarker. 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 regions major cultural attractions, such as Symphony Nova Scotia, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, The Khyber ICA, 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, 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.


The Halifax Regional Municipality is home to a number of outdoor recreational opportunities, including numerous ocean and lake beaches, as well as rural and urban parks. The municipality has a host of organised community intramural sports, as well as varsity and intramural sports offered by public schools and post-secondary institutions and has extensive facilities.

The region is home to several professional and semi-professional sport franchises, such as the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (see also Sports teams in the Halifax Regional Municipality).

The region has also 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 had been home to the CIS Men's Basketball Championship, however the tournament was moved to Ottawamarker, Ontariomarker starting in 2008. The 72nd Ice Hockey World Championship was held between May 2 and May 18, 2008 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Quebec City, Canada.

Halifax was selected as Canada's bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in 2006 but withdrew from the international competition in advance of the November 9, 2007 selection date on March 8.

In February 2007, the municipality was selected as the host community for the 2011 Canada Winter Games.


Argyle Street, for many years home to the Halifax Herald

HRM is the Maritimes' centre for broadcast and print media. CBC, CTV and Global Television 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 The Chronicle-Herald as well as two free newspapers, the daily commuter-oriented edition of Metro and the free alternative arts weekly The Coast. Frank Magazine 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 asThe 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.


Halifax Harbourmarker is a major port used by numerous shipping lines, administered by the Halifax Port Authoritymarker. The navy and 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 Shoremarker.

The Halifax Port Authority'smarker various shipping terminals constitute the eastern terminus of Canadian National Railway's transcontinental network. VIA Rail Canada provides overnight passenger rail service six days a week to Montrealmarker with the Ocean, a train equipped with sleeper cars that stops in major centres along the way, such as Moncton.

Halifax Stanfield International Airportmarker serves HRM and most of the province, providing scheduled flights to domestic and international destinations. CFB Shearwatermarker, an air force base, is located on the eastern side of Halifax Harbour.

The municipality's urban core is linked by the Angus L.marker Macdonaldmarker and A.marker Murray MacKaymarker suspension bridges, as well as the network of 100-series highways which function as expressways. The Armdale traffic circlemarker 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 Transitmarker, 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.

Buildings and structures

10 Tallest Buildings in Halifax
Name Height Floors
Fenwick Placemarker 32
Purdy's Wharfmarker Tower 2 22
1801 Hollis Streetmarker 22
Barrington Towermarker 20
Cogswell Towermarker 20
Maritime Centremarker 21
Queen Squaremarker 19
Purdy's Wharfmarker Tower 1 18
Bank of Montreal Buildingmarker 18
TD Towermarker 18

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 Hillmarker with its iconic Halifax Town Clockmarker.

The architecture of Halifax's South Endmarker is renowned for its grand Victorian houses while the West Endmarker and North End, Halifaxmarker have many blocks of well preserved wooden residential houses with notable features such as the "Halifax Porch". Dalhousie Universitymarker'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 is governed by height restrictions which prevent buildings from obstructing certain sightlines between Citadel Hillmarker and Halifax Harbourmarker. This has resulted in some modern high rises being built at unusual angles or locations.

In recent decades there has been a good deal of conflict between those in favour of modern development and heritage preservationists. The former has been occasionally seen as threatening the historic character of certain areas of the city, while the latter has been accused of stifling growth in the city and contributing to the economic stagnation of certain districts. Much municipal consultation in recent years, such as the HRM by Design project, has focussed on how to allow modernization and development to encourage repatriation and renewed community diversification, while preserving the remaining heritage structures and character.


Halifax as seen from the Dartmouth waterfront

Population trend
Census Population Change (%)
2006 372,679 3.8%
2001 359,111 4.7%
1996 342,851 3.1%
1991 332,518 N/A

Mother tongue language (2006)
Language Population Pct (%)
English only 337,525 91.41%
Other languages 20,645 5.59%
French only 10,080 2.73%
Both English and French 1,010 0.27%

The Halifax Regional Municipality comprise 372,679 residents (2006 census). Approximately 18% of the population is under the age of 14, while 11% are 65 and older.

Ethnic origins

Ethnic Origin Population % of Total
Canadianmarker 37.7
English 34.2
Scottish 29.8
Irish 24.5
French 18.0
German 12.1
Dutch 4.0
First Nations 3.4
Welsh 2.2
Other British Isles 1.9
Italian 1.8
Polish 1.5
Acadian 1.4
Ukrainian 1.1
Lebanese 1.1
Chinese 1
Other African 0.9
Black 0.8

Religious belief

Downtown Halifax at night

Sister cities

  • Hakodate Japanmarker (1982). The cities chose to twin because they both have star forts.[72414]
  • Campechemarker Mexicomarker (1999). Campeche was chosen because, like Halifax, it is "a capital of a state" and is "a city of similar size to Halifax on or near the coast having rich historical tradition".[72415]
  • Liverpoolmarker United Kingdommarker (2000). The cities chose to twin because they both have star forts.
  • Norfolkmarker, Virginiamarker (2006). Norfolk was chosen because, like Halifax, its economy "depends heavily on the presence of the Armed Forces, and both cities are very proud of their military history".[72416]

Major parks

Notable Haligonians

See also


External links

Halifax Panorama, Chebucto Community Net.

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