For those who don’t know me, I’m a fan of Dartmouth. I grew up here and never really liked the area that much until years after living in Halifax and realizing that the natural beauty of Dartmouth mixed with its old-world Downtown (currently in revival mode) is really a fantastic place to live.
I moved back to Dartmouth, into the Downtown, about 5 years ago and frequent many awesome locally owned small businesses in the area. I also help operate a couple of small businesses in and around Downtown Dartmouth, which provides some perspective. It’s clear that setting up shop in a gentrifying neighbourhood that many locals still don’t consider a destination and which is overshadowed by a much larger Downtown across the water makes for a difficult market in which to do business. The biz commission in the area is great, but very limited in both human and monetary resources.
Those already living in the Downtown core know how great it is, but sadly there’s not a high enough population density to fully support the small businesses within. This could be due to many reasons, but I pin most of it on oversized and expensive condos and apartments and condo buildings that simply aren’t tall enough to create high enough density.
Until that changes, the people have to come from elsewhere to support these businesses.
The only options left are:
- Surrounding areas, like Cole Harbour, Montebelo, Halifax, etc., or
It’s my belief that a large-scale PR campaign should be launched by the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission if Downtown Dartmouth is going to get more traffic from those surrounding areas. It needs to dispel the myth that Downtown Dartmouth is less safe than places like Downtown Halifax. It needs to promote DD as being *the* place to go for shopping, family outings, etc. But honestly, none of this should be necessary because each community should be entirely self sustaining by its own residents (refer back to comments on density above). Other than me telling everyone I know to come to Downtown Dartmouth, which often falls on deaf ears due to commonly held beliefs about Dartmouth, I’m out of options to help with this.
But I realized I *can* help with tourism. Tourism is already a reason why people come to Dartmouth. The Lockside Canteen Taqueria at Shubie Park has surprised me with just how many tourists show up there for everything from historical locks demonstrations at the Fairbanks Centre Museum to canoeing in the canal to nature hikes. But so much more can be done! The catch is capturing the attention of those visiting Halifax who are going to be searching for terms like “What to do in Halifax”.
So along those lines, I created https://thingstodoinhalifax.ca. The objective? Point people towards Dartmouth. I figure, those looking for unique aspects of the area will be well suited to Dartmouth by finding small, modern non-chain-like restaurants, coffee and gift shops. There’s also the chain of lakes that make up the canal system that has numerous informational plaques all along the canal which is an excellent trek for walkers, bikers, and even those with cars who don’t mind making frequent stops.
The key now is to continue adding Dartmouth based content (stores, museums, etc) and to obtain first page rankings for searches like ‘things to do in Halifax’ on Google and Bing. Wish me luck! Perhaps I can bring out one or two more people a day to Dartmouth throughout the spring/summer/fall tourist seasons.