Halifax NOT a “World-Class City”

There are many things to like about Halifax and it isn’t an entirely unpleasant city where to live. I would still prefer Montréal, but then, summers here can be so exquisite. But one thing I don’t like about Halifax is how the people here can be bipolar about its size and importance. At times, the city’s entertainment weekly, The Coast, has referred to Halifax as “Canada’s biggest small town,” while, after the city hosted the G8 Summit in 1995, the mayor in office at the time started dreaming of Halifax eventually hosting the Olympic Games. With a population of about 360,000 according to the 2001 census — and that’s taking in all of Halifax County which is now the “Halifax Regional Municipality,” a land area as large as Prince Edward Island — this city is major for this end of the country, but hardly a metropolis.

While I’m not hugely interested in big sporting events, I must say, though, that I didn’t view unfavorably Halifax’s bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. If a smallish Canadian city like Victoria could pull it off in 1994, surely Halifax could as well, and it would be a far more realistic goal than the former mayor’s delusions about the Olympics. So, ever since Halifax earned the right last year against Hamilton and York Region to become Canada’s bid city against Scotland and Nigeria, I’ve cautiously been hoping Halifax would be chosen for 2014. Like most people, I didn’t want the city and the province of Nova Scotia to replicate the financial fiasco that were the Montreal ’76 Olympics, but surely that would be possible. And not only would Halifax draw more international attention, but it would also build for itself a much-needed infrastructure.

But apparently those plans were too rich for the city and the province, so Halifax has pulled out of the race. I’m sure that like just about everyone, I was shocked when I heard the news on Thursday.

I’m sorry, but that decision is bound to hurt Halifax. Canada, for sure, will be called upon again to bid for major international sporting events, but Halifax has killed its chances for at least 20 years if not longer. No city can pull a stunt like that and expect the international community won’t laugh it out of the room if it dares to suggest in the near future that it wishes to host another huge event like the Commonwealth Games. Indeed, Halifax has effectively ensured that it will remain Canada’s biggest small town for a long, long time.