4Front Atlantic Conference

EDITORIAL: Mission to Halifax

June 3, 2013

Future goes to town

All the world over, the economy is heading downtown — except, it seems, in Halifax.

OK, we’re indulging in a bit of Hali-centric hyperbole, here. But it was surrealistic this week to attend the 4Front Atlantic conference in downtown Halifax, where Dominic Barton, the farsighted global managing director of McKinsey & Co., was describing a brave new world economy where 440 cities will produce half of global GDP by 2025 — and then survey the sad state of nearby Barrington Street and environs.

That once and now barely-beating heart of the city looks like it could be the source of half the province’s vacant and underused buildings and heritage properties in desperate need of an upgrade to attract tenants.

In a world where 1.2 million rural residents are moving to cities every week, fast-tracking the growth of 200 cities in China alone, the McKinsey chief believes it will be cities rather than countries that matter in shaping and understanding growth. To dramatize the point, he compares 1997 and 2004 photos of the Pudong area of Shanghai; they show an expanse of onion fields morphing into a modern version of Lower Manhattan.

Read more on the Chronicle Herald.


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