Develop Nova Scotia: Authentic Destinations

Authentic Destinations

A new way to experience Halifax Harbour

Haligonians, Nova Scotians and visitors to our province have long expressed the wish that Georges Island be open for exploring. It was a strong conclusion in the Harbour Islands Visitor Experience Plan- which was built with community and partner participation. The Georges Island Wharf revitalization project, funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia, was completed in 2020-21, just in time for Parks Canada to welcome visitors to learn about the Island’s history and experience a different perspective on our harbour. Even though Covid-19 allowed only a partial opening, high demand for the experience made Georges Island one of the most visited National Historic Sites in Canada in 2020.

Georges Island National Historic site opened successfully with a pilot season for visitors in 2020. Haligonians, Nova Scotians and others embraced the opportunity to visit the island. Parks Canada was pleased to work with Develop Nova Scotia and Ambassatours to deliver this opportunity and see the warm response from the community. The teamwork of all the parties made the experience seamless for visitors and spoke to a high level of cooperation as this new offer settled into an efficient, exciting operation.

Dave Danskin, Visitor Experience Manager, Halifax Defence Complex, Parks Canada

Visitor Reviews:

“Amazing experience, you get to explore at your own pace with the option of a guided tour through the tunnels.”

“Great way to spend the afternoon! Great history lessons and outside. Loved every minute!”

“Waited years to be able to visit this park. It didn’t disappoint.”

“After having sailed through the port of Halifax aboard a boat, we were able to disembark on the island and feel totally elsewhere!”


Investing in Lunenburg’s working waterfront

Lunenburg’s clear vision to preserve its working waterfront is also what makes it so compelling to visitors. The historic working waterfront underwent a robust $6.8 million revitalization in 2020-21, which focused on a couple of properties including the Zwicker & Co. Warehouse.

The historic Warehouse is an anchor in the visitor experience of the Lunenburg waterfront, welcoming folks by land and by sea. This three-storey wood-frame building has elements dating back to the late 1800s, and it’s envisioned to be a centre of growing marine activity. To support that growth, the ground floor has benefited from renovations that will house permanent and accessible marine visitation facilities including a marina office, laundry, shower, and accessible public washrooms for marine visitors and seasonal visitor attractions.

The upgrades will contribute to the attractiveness of this storied maritime centre for people and industry and get us collectively closer to realizing Lunenburg’s vision of a thriving working waterfront.

Enabling community-led projects builds authentic destinations

Visitors want to do what the locals do. Authenticity in destinations is everything. Authentic places reflect the values and aspirations of the people who live there. So the only way to build them is to build them with those people. The seawall trail is a perfect example of community led, distinctively local, decidedly authentic experience that will tell the story of this breathtaking and storied part of the world in a way only the locals can.

An epic trek along the coast and cliffs of Northern Cape Breton it will be irresistible to hiking enthusiasts from around the globe.

A “game-changer” to Cape Breton… It’s going to bring in new tourism dollars. But more importantly, what it’s going to bring is an example of a project where people are working together, nation to nation, Mi’kmaq and Nova Scotians, Cape Bretoners and mainlanders, to make something happen that goes beyond Northern Cape Breton, and the shores of Cape Breton.

Ray Fraser, chair of the Seawall Trail Society

A flurry of activity along the Halifax waterfront.


Queen’s Marque

As Queen’s Marque nears completion, an extraordinary feat given the impacts of a global pandemic on supply chain and labour, the vision of a mixed use development “borne of this place” is realized. An example of creating the conditions for private investment, this project is a $200M private sector investment in the Halifax waterfront – places to live, to work, to shop and dine, to stay and more than 100,000 sf of public space and three new wharves available to explore. Among the local businesses showcased in this very special project, earlier this spring, the Hadad family’s Peace by Chocolate opened, bringing their inspiring story and their delicious treats to our waterfront.


Foundation Wharves

This central waterfront space is primed to become a destination in and of itself. Construction and expansion of the boardwalk and wharves at Foundation Place is complete, and now we have a wonderful new space for the community to bring to life. Through continued conversations with waterfront users and other communities, as well as observation, trial and experimentation – we can turn what was aging inaccessible wharves into an amazing place for everyone, to gather, for recreational and commercial boaters and as a new place for small businesses, while contributing to coastal resilience.


CUNARD Development

CUNARD is a mixed-use project that will contribute two acres of exciting new public space on the Halifax Waterfront near Morris and Lower Water Streets. Developed in partnership with Southwest Properties, the project’s groundbreaking took place in spring of 2021, building on a strong theme of “play” that emerged from public engagement, in-depth and inclusive stakeholder and public engagement commenced with a commitment to make this new public space a place where everyone can feel welcome.


Arts District

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia—having outgrown its current historic home—will be the focal point of an inclusive new Arts District on the Halifax waterfront. The winning design team will work with partners and the community to finalize the design of a new place for art for everyone on the Halifax waterfront.


Cable Wharf

One of the last original wharves on the Halifax waterfront—built in 1913—Cable Wharf needed a little love. A rejuvenation project over the last year will extend its life, making it a safe, fun place to gather—for a meal, a tour, or a lazy afternoon as well as a platform for a leading tourism business that can employ between 50-100 employees in peak season.


Acadia Wharf

On the harbour side of the Maritime Museum, the Acadia Wharf is part of the museum experience, and a beloved public space. Revitalization includes an 18-metre extension, and improved access to CCS Acadia and Bluenose II, as well as the myriad small craft and related programming.


An especially meaningful Open City.

Open City is a reminder and an invitation—to get out, participate, and enjoy everything our city has to offer. This year’s Open City—or Re-Open City, as we dubbed it given how the pandemic has affected our day-to-day lives—was especially exciting and refreshing. The first year ever that the event was led and guided exclusively by Develop Nova Scotia, 2020’s Open City was something residents were craving—an excuse to be out, explore the city, and have fun while supporting the recovery of the businesses we all value so much.


The 2020 Re-Open City event provided some much-needed hope and optimism during a very difficult time for our small businesses. The event came at a time when people were eager to get back out and shop again at our local businesses, which desperately needed support from their community. This event was the perfect opportunity to encourage Haligonians to get out and do their part to protect the businesses that we have all come to love and rely on.

Tracy Jackson, Executive Director, North End Business Association


Another year of celebrating our diverse community.

Develop Nova Scotia is dedicated to creating safe, accessible, and welcoming spaces for all our people. We want to ensure that our public spaces are platforms for cultural expression, critical conversations, and social change. It’s why we work closely with community organizations and partners to be sure that we reflect and celebrate the diversity of our province’s cultures and communities. Community events like JubaLee, a musical and cultural production of the Black Cultural Centre, of which we are a funding partner, celebrate the diversity of our province—including Black, Mi’kmaq, Acadian, Celtic and newer immigrant cultures. In 2020 we were also an event partner for the YAC Salt Yard Sessions, a presenting sponsor of The Wood History of Hip Hop , and a proud sponsor of a book commemorating the experience of 45 Indigenous youth from across Canada who participated in Msit No’Kmaq sailing across the Atlantic Ocean from Halifax to France on board tall ship Gulden Leeuw during Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta.

Ensuring a strong future for coastal cities.

The Art of City Building conference unites thought leaders from around the world to challenge and inspire people to think about their cities and themselves in new ways. This year’s theme, “under water”, encouraged the community to consider issues—especially relevant to coastal locations like ours—like the climate crisis, the global pandemic crisis, and the economic crisis. By rethinking a city like Halifax in a way that balances economic growth and social inclusion with environmental regeneration, we can help shape a city where everyone can thrive by the sea.

If we’re going to do sustainability work, if we’re going to do climate work, if we are going to fight for this world to keep us all here and to thrive for future generations, we can’t do it without equity. We can’t do it without centering people who we have historically said are expendable—because they’re not.

Tamika Butler, Art of City Building 2020

Halifax Waterfront programming – creating engaging experiences


Evergreen Festival

The waterfront is an all-season destination for the community, and anything that encourages the community to enjoy it is as the days get shorter is something to celebrate. The Evergreen Festival—a holiday event of light, warmth, and togetherness—is one way we are working to make the waterfront a destination in every season, with a significant increase in visitation year over year.


The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is incredibly grateful for the opportunity Develop Nova Scotia provided through its Evergreen Festival to improve the mental health and wellness of Nova Scotians. Sponsored by Emera and Nova Scotia Power, the Tunnel of Hope created an Instagram frenzy, bringing excitement and joy to our lives during a very difficult time. Above all, it allowed those living with mental illness and addiction to see the light at the end of the tunnel by instilling a much-needed sense of hope, courage, and resilience during the second wave of the pandemic.

Starr Cunningham, President & CEOMental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia


We are proud to be one of the lead partners in Evergreen Festival in 2020. Together, we created a unique event that offers both residents and visitors a vibrant experience during a traditionally quieter time of year. Building on the success of its inaugural year, the Evergreen Festival will continue to draw visitors to our region and become a much-anticipated community holiday event that will support local businesses and infuse resources into our economy.

Ross Jefferson, President and CEO, Discover Halifax