Develop Nova Scotia: Thriving Communities

Thriving Communities

Making connections

Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative

To thrive today, communities need to be accessible and they need to be connected. Reliable high speed internet is critical infrastructure, a reality that has been sharply evidenced through the global pandemic. But for many across Nova Scotia, access to high quality, high speed internet has continued to be out of reach. We are making those connections possible.

Julie Gilby is a co-owner at CKG Elevator Ltd. in Dartmouth and a resident of Enfield. For years she’s been working to run her businesses without home access to high-speed internet—which meant frequent long drives to the office. But in Summer 2020, as part of the Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative, the Gilby’s home was finally connected to this essential economic tool.

“After spending years advocating for high-speed internet with our neighbours, we were connected last summer during the pandemic,” Julie explains. “As a mother of two school-age children, a business owner, and an active volunteer, this has significantly improved work/life balance for our family. I have many Zoom calls during the evenings and previously this was challenging. We no longer have to drive to our office if work requires and are now able to use our home office.”

Oh gosh! We are super excited to share the results of a recent Internet speed test at our Church Point office. Speeds that felt unattainable just a few short years ago are now available through Mainland Telecom. I highly recommend this service! We are happy campers with these numbers—this gives us the ability to conduct long-distance business effortlessly. We serve clients in five countries from our little corner in Clare, Nova Scotia and it is extremely comforting to know that we have extra strength with these speeds getting us to market.

Shelley Bellefontaine, Atlantic Online Marketing, Clare, Nova Scotia

The The Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative, together with municipal projects, has projects underway that will deliver reliable, high speed internet to 99% of Nova Scotian homes and businesses. As projects are implemented through 2023, tens of thousands of families like the Gilbys will be enjoying the benefits of high-speed internet. It will help businesses grow, students learn, people access critical services including healthcare, and it will connect Nova Scotians to the people they care about. And connection is just the first step—the social and economic impact of access to high-speed connections is hard to overstate and we’re starting to see it in action in communities across the province.

Doing this work is not easy. It requires close collaboration among partners in the public and private sectors. It is a complex infrastructure project that relies on the installation of thousands of kilometres of fibre and significant engineering and preparation to enable the delivery. It’s challenged by a lack of supply of highly skilled talent and global supply chain disruptions. And it can’t come soon enough. We are advancing this project with great urgency and our partners are pulling out all of the stops to delivery connections as quickly as possible. A connected Nova Scotia is a thriving Nova Scotia. And it is stories like the Gilby’s that drive us every day at Develop Nova Scotia, to ensure this becomes an everyday story in all corners of the province.


* As at March 31

Enriching Mainstreets & Downtowns

We know that communities become stronger when they work together toward a common purpose. That collective impact approach is at the core of our work with communities – to create great places that can have positive economic and social impacts. It’s a process that takes time and a certain stick-to-it-ness. 

Our work with the community of Louisbourg began a couple of years ago.  It was centered around the knowledge that if the town could attract more of the visitors to the Fortress of Louisbourg into the town’s downtown – good things could and would happen.

Fast forward to 2020-21, the Visitor Experience Enhancement project is rolling along toward concrete plans to redevelop the former Louisbourg Craft Centre, public waterfront, and former municipal campground in the heart of the town into a new destination for people.

Shaping those plans is the learning and listening completed with and in community – to understand what types of community and visitor experiences could be added to Parks Canada visitor services for the Fortress.

This past year our work with community was focused on funding assembly, preparing pre-design studies to go to market, as well as safe virtual and in-person public engagement. Great conversations were had with many community members. We’ll now be focused on assisting with the tendering of studies, and the formation of a Community Advisory group, to help guide the design process forward.

It has been a pleasure to work with Develop Nova Scotia. They have helped us bring life and hope back to a project that means a lot to the community. They have been extremely open and flexible in addressing the desires and concerns of the townspeople, and have helped bring a level of credibility to the project, making it easier to bring in other partners. We are very excited to continue this work with them.

Jenna Lahey, Louisbourg Resident / Cape Breton Partnership

Leading the way toward reconciliation—together.

Consider a Nova Scotia and a Canada where reconciliation is seen as not only necessary and right, but as a true opportunity to challenge ourselves to do things differently. There is so much to be gained, by everyone, in having inclusive, Indigenous-centered communities. Moving forward will take transformative change to systems, priorities, and the way we work together. And to be clear, it’s something that needs to be done together—it takes both Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices.

Participatory City is a progressive pilot project—centred in Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax to start, but with national ambitions in mind. It is aimed at building the social infrastructure necessary to create inclusive and participatory systems at the neighborhood level. In Halifax, this work focuses in the north end of the city and is rooted in reconciliation.

It’s all about supporting people to act on their own ideas and lead everyday activities that bring people together to participate, learn and share in a way that builds lasting relationships and solves neighbourhood challenges at the neighbourhood level. As a supporting partner of Participatory City, Develop Nova Scotia was pleased to reinforce our commitment to being an ally in this important work. This project is sure to be a model for the country for creating real change and leading in the journey to reconciliation.


In March 2020, in the midst of one of Halifax’s COVID waves, 8 tactical projects explored in 30 sessions

This platform gave us the opportunity to actually move reconciliation in Halifax so much further ahead than I ever thought.

Pam Glode-Desrochers
Executive Director, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre


Participatory City provides a refreshing narrative and a tangible manifestation of what transition can look like, at the scale of the neighbourhood. It represents a model that can connect with similar movements of change, scale across neighbourhoods, and be adapted to cities anywhere. Simply put, it provides an inspiration for us to re-imagine how we live and work together in the future.

Jayne Engle, Cities for People, McConnell Foundation

A path forward guided by community voices.

The community of Inverness has become an international tourist hot spot over the last decade. The Inverness Growth Strategy was designed to guide the community’s growth toward a sustainable and inclusive future where community members can thrive even as they welcome the world to their beautiful corner of Cape Breton. The project began with public consultations, followed by technical studies. The strategy is now entering its next stage — to check back with community to ensure we heard correctly – that it’s heading in right direction. The goal is to make sure that residents agree with the summary of opinions presented in the report—to validate that the Guiding Principles reflect the true vision of the people. The final steps in the Growth Management Strategy will be guided by these principles.

The collaboration between Develop Nova Scotia and the Municipality of the County of Inverness has been instrumental in helping our community both confront the challenges and issues we face as well as identify and recognize the significant opportunities we have in front of us. The process of planning with the community has laid the groundwork for a wide array of community improvements and given our citizens the confidence needed to take the next steps on these significant projects. The Develop Nova Scotia team has been both knowledgeable and innovative in their ideas and approach to working with and for our community.
Keith MacDonald, CAO

Encouraging a strong business recovery

It’s no secret that the pandemic has dealt a blow to our local businesses. Develop Nova Scotia’s work helps create the conditions for businesses to thrive. So coming out of the pandemic, our minds turned to stimulate recovery safely – building consumer confidence and social license for people to come together again and this ambition was advanced through the Nova Scotia Business & Labour Economic Coalition (NSBLEC) tactical recovery plan.

One plank of this plan is focused on Community Placemaking, with solutions-oriented placemaking projects being stood up in 20 communities across Nova Scotia, engaging community to work together, improve their public spaces and give people a reason to come out and participate.  With some guidance and encouragement (and a bit of inspiration!) from the Develop Nova Scotia team, the first cohort of communities across the province have projects underway. Stay tuned for more news on these evolving stories as projects progress.