Halifax: The Best in Budget Accommodation

Nova Scotia is the land of watersports, puffins and seals, is the perfect place for a summer getaway far from all those tourist-heavy destinations. One of the beauties of this province is that it has a vast selection of affordable lodgings that caters for all tastes and budgets.

If you’re planning on visiting Halifax this summer and need a place that will help maximise your budget, here are three accommodation options in the capital that will cost you no more than $50 a night.

HI-Halifax
HI-Halifax

HI-Halifax

Hostelling International (HI) members may want to stay at this super convenient heritage house hostel that’s doesn’t implement a curfew, has free Wi-Fi, and is just $26 a night. Located in the heart of the city centre, public transit is just a minute away from HI-Halifax. Note: Non-members will be required to pay an extra fee.

Saint Mary’s University Conference Services & Summer Accommodations

Saint Mary's
Saint Mary’s

Universities have great summer housing options that are easy on the wallet. Starting at $39 a night, guests at Saint Mary’s will have free daily breakfast buffets, Wi-Fi, and parking on top of their private kitchenette and bathroom. You’ll also get the conveniences of on-campus shops and facilities.

Halifax Backpackers

Halifax Backpackers
Halifax Backpackers

The cheapest place to stay in the city is Halifax Backpackers Hostel with rooms starting at $23. The hostel draws in the night owls that love to bar hop, as Halifax Backpackers is located in a neighbourhood filled with dive bars. This is one of the best options to meet and mingle with the locals.

Getting to Halifax

There are plenty of ways to get to Halifax. If flying is your transport of choice, you’ll most likely by flying into Halifax Stanfield International Airport, although you might find cheaper tickets going into JA Douglas McCurdy Sydney or Yarmouth International. Just be careful with time and expenditure associated with these cheaper flights, as Parking4Less explains that there will be additional costs for transportation to and from the airports that are much further away from tourist travel spots. Nova Scotia is also accessible by ferries and cruises, but if you’d like to take in the scenic views of the maritime province, a road trip will be your best bet.

Cat Ferry Nipped at Yarmouth

Since 1998 the town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia has welcomed the arrival of a ship with two hulls that runs on jet engines. An unusually fast ship the Cat Ferry cut in half the two-day trip from Bar Harbor, Maine to the southwest Nova Scotia town. This brought American tourists to Nova Scotia complete with cars, recreational vehicles or tour buses.

The Cat ferry began service 12 years ago and boasted between 100,000 and 150,000 passengers every year. However, in recent years that number has dropped to be low 76,000 and the service only servivied through government subsidies: $1.3 million in 2005; $2.5 million in 2007; and $4.4 million in 2008. In 2009 the service was given the astounduing sum of $12 million. This is a subsidy of around $158 a person.

Cat Ferry Nipped at Yarmouth
Cat Ferry Nipped at Yarmouth

This is not the first hit for Yarmouth. In the early 1990′s a series of industry closings hurt ther area so tourism played a big part in the economic well-being. A few years ago the venerable Prince of Fundystopped operations. This traditional ferry service brought people in from Maine on a more regular basis than the Cat and its demise hurt many accommodation operations including bed-and-breakfasts as well as hotels and restaurants.

It is not that the Cat was the “end-all-and-be-all” of tourism dollars coming to Nova Scotia. It is just one in a string of tourism losses for Yarmouth including a pullout by Starlink, an air carrier that started service from Yarmouth to Maine less than a year ago.

With the high Canadian dollar, American Homeland Security roadblocks and the economic hits in the U.S. tourists from the south as a dying breed. In addition, the improvement of roads in Maine and southern new Brunswick mean that trip from Halifax to Boston and vice versa is a lot quicker than it used to be and, even with high gas prices, a lot cheaper than taking the Cat.

The traditional gateway to the U.S. by water has now closed. But this does not mean that southwest Nova Scotia is doomed. The loss of the ferries just means that Nova Scotia has to change its campaign for drawing tourist dollars into the province. What worked in the 1990′s does not necessarily translate into revenue anymore.

And at $158 a visitor surely we can spend our money more wisely to get a bigger bang for southern Nova Scotia.

Cruise Ship Stops Up in Halifax in 2015

When you think that cruise ships were almost non-existent twenty years ago having 261,216 passengers visit Halifax in 2010 is a great accomplishment. This equates to a 14.7% increase over 2009 and an abundance of revenue for Halifax businesses as well as employment.

Cornerstone of the Cruise Ship Business

Based on a collaborative marketing initiative by the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association, Destination Halifax and the Halifax Port Authority it was found that 95 -97% of the visitors coming to Halifax, and Cape Breton, were from American ports. In fact the report goes on to say that “Halifax has become the cornerstone of the Atlantic Canadian and New England cruise itinerary.

What Do Cruise Passengers Do Here?

1. Tours

Pre-booked tours are a mainstay in the cruise ship business. In this category Peggy’s Cove is atop the list as well as hop-on hop-off city bus tours where cruise passengers can decide on their own pace.  Some tours go to the Annapolis Valley and others gos as far south as Lunenburg.

2. Rides and City Tours

Horse and wagon rides are popular as well as city tours. There is even a Harbour Hopper, an amphibious vehicle that tours the city from the water.

3. Walking

Pier 21, where the cruise ships dock, is only about a mile from the major attractions and restaurants on the waterfront. For someone of average physical ability this is easily accomplished and there are tourism booths to hand maps and brochures detailing attractions.

4. Shopping

Whether you take a cab or walk shopping on the prestigious Spring Garden Road or waterfront boutiques is close by

TIANS Against Halifax Historic Properties Redevelopment

The (Halifax) Historic Property core region is one of the most defining elements on the Halifax Waterfront. Any development that mitigates the authentic experience and preservation of this area would be very short-sighted and detrimental to tourism over the long term.

– Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia

It is now standard practice in big business to develop for the sake of development. In other words, ripping down the old and building the new seems to be the ultimate way to drive the economic engines. And if this isn’t happening then the economy is in recession.

During the past ten years Nova Scotia has lost dozens of historic buildings including two gas stations that date back to the 1920′s. But those are new compared to the buildings from the 1800′s that are suffering the wrecking ball. And why is this happening? Because the powers-that-be figure that tearing down historic buildings, ones that have been saved by previous administrations, is the only way to retain or gain a good tax base.

And what happens when the developers lose? They throw fits. This is because they have spent tens of thousands of dollars on architects and consultants so why wouldn’t they? The real problem is that there are no hard and fast rules about dealing with historical landmarks. The rules seem to change with each mayor:

1973: The city council formally supported the preservation of the Historic Properties ares north of Duke Street from Granville Street to the water. This recognition made Halifax a leader in preserving history.

2002: The Heritage Canad foundation, a national organization dedicated to preserving the architectural heritage and historic places of Canada, chose Halifax to host its conference. They found that vacationers want to visit historic areas and their preservation is vital.

2008: Armour Group wants to destroy the main buildings and keep the facades. This will take in the last original area of Halifax.

What TIANS is saying is that the Armour Group should not have been lead on to believe that they could destroy old properties for the sake of a new development. Armour Group and certain city councilors argue that there is not enough office space in Halifax. Actually, Halifax has over 1,000,000 square feet of vacant land in downtown Halifax.

There are a lot of stupid moves in Halifax planning. (The Cogswell exchange was one of them) Rather than destroy the heritage properties why not look at the available land? Because you know what happens to many buildings that are destroyed in Halifax? They become parking lots. And tourists can only park once.

BESTT on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)

“BESTT is an international coalition of businesses and trade associations from across the United States and Canada who share a common concern about the ramifications of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). Our goal is to raise awareness of the important cultural and fiscal ties that exist across the 5,500 mile long border, and to help ensure public policies that promote these ties, while still addressing the legitimate security concerns of both countries.”

Well, June is fast approaching and this means that anyone entering the United States from Canada or elsewhere must present:

  • a passport;
  • a NEXUS card;
  • a FAST card; or
  • an EDL or EIC from a province or territory where a U.S.-approved EDL/EIC program has been implemented.

Closely watching the WHTI is a group called the Business for Better Economic Security for Tourism and Trade. Why because the Canada-U. S. border is like a membrane, a malleable and porous divide where billions of dollars in goods and services are transferred each year. In addition to the monetary value of the border millions of people pass across every year as well: tourists, business visitors, workers and many other foreign nationals who contribute to economy of both nations.

The meeting points of this vast transference:

  • Border crossings across the 49th parallel
  • Ferry systems on both coasts and inland waterways.
  • Airports

These ports-of-entry account for $1.2 billion dollars a day in trade and this supports 5.2 million jobs.

BESTT Position

The BESTT coalition supports secure border crossing document
solutions that:

•        Acknowledge and address the economic impact of any
proposed solution
•        Include a multi-lateral approach to border management
processes
•        Fund extensive marketing and public awareness efforts
•        Provide a common implementation date for all types of
crossings
•        Describe a clear standard for crossing
•        Are inexpensive and easily accessible
•        Addresses the unique need for students and children, aged
sixteen and under, to be able to cross the border at a
nominal cost.

Is BESTT Being Heard?

BESTT means well and I think on a grass-roots level they are being heard. However, will a new administration in the Washington care about what they think now that the economy is the big issue? Well, BESTT is all about the economy and making it work faster with America’s trading partners, especially Canada. And any organization that keeps this lucrative and strategic relationship on the frontburner is worth an applause.

Bay of Fundy Tidal Bore

A tidal bore is a wall of water that moves up certain low-lying rivers due to an incoming tide. Tidal bores form when an incoming tide rushes up a river, developing a steep forward slope due to resistance to the tide’s advance by the river, which is flowing in the opposite direction. Thus we have the phenomenon of the river changing its flow before your very eyes, flowing in overtop the outgoing river water.

he height of the tidal bore increases with the range of the tide and may very in height from just a ripple to several feet.Bores occur in relatively few locations worldwide, usually in areas with a large tidal range (typically more than 20 feet between high and low water), and where incoming tides are funneled into a shallow, narrowing river via a broad bay. The funnel-like shape not only increases the height of the tide, but it can also decrease the duration of the flood tide down to a point where the flood appears as a sudden increase in the water level.

Bay of Fundy Tidal Bore
Bay of Fundy Tidal Bore

There are approximately two high tides and two low tides within a 24-hour period in the Bay of Fundy. The time between a low tide and a high tide is about 6 hours and 13 minutes. Therefore visitors to the Fundy coast can realistically expect to see at least one high and one low tide during daylight hours.

Tide times move ahead approximately one hour each day, and tide times vary for different locations around the Bay. One of the best ways to experience the full impression of the Bay of Fundy’s tides is to visit the same coastal location at high tide, then return about six hours later at low tide (or vice versa).

The Bay of Fundy tidal bore is a three hour drive from White Point Manor and White Point Beach Resort.

Peggy’s Cove Celebrates 200 Years

Peggy’s Cove is about one of the best known images of Canada outside a mounted policeman, a beaver or Lake Louise. It’s lighthouse, although not very tall, is the standard by which people think of the seacoast beacons. It’s hard to believe that the area will be 200 years old this summer.

Two hundred years ago King George III issued land grants to six founding families who settled the boulder-strewn, rocky point later called Peggy’s Cove. Now, on the 200th anniversary of Nova Scotia’s Peggy’s Cove, there are 40 full-time residents of this community.

For the first hundred years life was simple: gardens, fishing and going inland to log and hunt. There was lots of fish: inshore pollock, cod fisheries and lobster as well as smelt and herring. Now it is lobster and mackerel that are fished by 5 full-time fishermen.

Of course Peggy’s Cove is best known for its tourism draw, bringing about 500,000 tourists each summer to visit the community.

Centennial Events

1. Geology Walk: Beginning on April 18 and every third Monday afterward visitors can attend geology walks that explain the giant boulders known as “erratics” that cover the glacially scoured granite landscape.

2. Tiptoe through the Tide Pool : A natural history walk will be held on June 11 and a Peggy’s Cove Road Arts Festival from July 1 to July 14.

2. Family Reunions: Peggy’s Cove has sent hundreds of its residents around the world. Many of them may come back for the big reunion.

For more events go to Peggy’s Cove

Nova Scotia Welcomes “Encyclopedia Titanica”

No other floating enterprise in the history of the world has attracted more attention than the R.M.S. “Titanic.” Although the ship only sailed for barely two weeks (from sea trials to her sinking) the attention garnered in recent times has spawned whole industries. For example, model kits of the “Titanic” out-sell any other models including cars and other modes of transportation. Tourists come to Halifax for the expressed purpose of seeing Fairview and Mount Olivet cemeteries where many of the victims were buried.

Now a Facebook site has a running commentary centered around the hundreds of thousands of bit of information that go far and above normal knowledge. It is called Encyclopedia Titanica and it is a feast for those seeking trivia about the disaster. Families of passengers have logged on to contribute information of their relatives’ experiences that never made the mainstream media or bookstores. Go to Encyclopedia Titanica and noodle around for a while. But be careful, it is habit-forming.

Liverpool Privateer Days

During the late 1700’s an act of the Imperial Parliament in England sanctioned privateering along Nova Scotia’s south shore. This was an effort to protect the local towns and villages from attacks by American ships.

Liverpool Privateer Days
Liverpool Privateer Days

The new rules let the ordinary citizens to apply for a “Letter of Marque,” which allowed them to attack and capture the ‘enemy’ vessels. If the capture was deemed legal, then the privateers shared in the money generated when the ship and cargo were sold at auction. It was a way for the local people to defend their homes.

Events celebrating this history with food, music, historical tours and other fun and games take place all over the town of Liverpool. The festival runs for four days during the first weekend in July.

For more Information contact:
Owen Hamlin
Phone: 354-4500
Email: info@privateerdays.com
Website: http://www.privateerdays.com

Festivals Abound in Nova Scotia in 2009

There are few places that top Nova Scotia in the summer and fall seasons. Unlike the west coast of Canada Nova Scotia has more sunny days and better beaches. But best of all, Nova Scotia has the festivals. But don’t wait for the summer to get started when there are some amazing events beginning this week.

Silver Dart Centennial

Going on right now until the 24th is the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight in the British Commonwealth that took place over the ice and in the skies above Bras D’Or Lakes. Backed by none other than Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, The Silver Dart flew in front of his summer home overlooking the lake and a replica will repeat the performance.

Festivals Abound in Nova Scotia in 2009
Festivals Abound in Nova Scotia in 2009

Events include:

The Flight of the Silver Dart Centennial Anniversary Week,
The Silver Dart Centennial Association’s Youth in Aviation Week
Silver Dart Air Show
Aviation Week takes place from August 16-22, 2009, at Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site.
Big Boats

The age of sail is revisited with the Tall Ships Nova Scotia Festival on July 16-29, 2009. Over forty sail-laden ships from around the world will dock in Halifax, Nova Scotia to help celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Canadian Navy. But it doesn’t end there. After the Parade of Sail in Halifax on July 20, 2009 many of the ships will stick around and sail in to ports around Nova Scotia from Cape Breton down to Lunenburg.

Tattoo You

Included in the 37 events that take place in the festival season is the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo in the first week of July. The International Busker Festival will follow in August.

But it doesn’t end with the summer. In the autumn the Nova Scotia Fall Wine Festival kicks into gear as well as Celtic Colours in Cape Breton.

“New 7 Wonders of Nature” Picks Alberta Instead of the Bay of Fundy

Growing up I used to imagine what it would be like to the keeper of the Light of Alexandria. The lighthouse was built on the island of Pharos in the 3rd century B.C. , started by Ptolemy, Egypt’s first Macedonian ruler and favorite of Alexander the Great. He never lived to see it completed. For almost 1,000 years the great lighthouse was a beacon to seagoing travelers.

Bay of Fundy
Bay of Fundy

Locally, the Bay of Fundy was chosen as Nova Scotia’s entry into the New 7 Wonders of the World contest. The Bay of Fundy was put forward in a contest to declare it one of Canada’s picks for the New7Wonders of Nature since June of 2008. However, yesterday Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta s was chosen as the top Canadian site and the Bay of Fundy placed 2nd.

So why, may you ask, was a “puddle of water” chosen to compete against such icons as the Great Barrier Reef and other huge wonders? Well, it’s not so much the place itself as the people who got behind the project. They believe that the area of the highest tides in the world has unique natural monuments including huge areas of fossils.

Terri McCulloch, a Parrsboro resident, led a Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership effort to have this designation bestowed on the Bay of Fundy ever since the Swiss­-based New7Wonders Foundation launched the New7Wonders of Nature competition last year. Swiss­-born filmmaker, author and adventurer, Bernard Weber, came up with the idea to shine a light on the earth’s ecosystem and how we need to protect it

In all Fundy was competing against Dino­saur Provincial Park in Alberta, Long Point Sand Spit in Ontario, Rocher-Perce in Quebec and Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador. However, the skinny was that it was the “Battle of the Dinosaurs” because Fundy’s Joggins Cliffs feature a rich belt of fossils and it was named a UNESCO World heritage site.

Here are some excepts from a Facebook site dedicated to this project:

Oct 1 – BIG NEWS – the folks at 7 Wonders have pumped up the stakes on the contest: they’ve decided to short list the contestants to ONE FROM EACH COUNTRY by Dec 31,2008. Since there are only 8 nominees in Canada – including Fundy – we stand an excellent chance of moving on to the next phase but we’ve GOT to GET THE VOTE out. Please keep emailing friends & family to get them to vote!
Dec 9 – Fundy surpassed Dinosaur Park as Canada’s #1 site BUT we hear through the grapevine that Dinosaur is planning a bit media blitz prior to Christmas!! keep the votes coming in for Fundy
Dec 31 – Fundy featured repeatedly on Canada AM – thanks to Erin at CTV!!
Well, Terri, you and the rest of the Fundy residents pulled hard to get the recognition its deserves but here’s the silver lining: Nominations from other sites have brought them increased tourism so look for your area to have a boost in a time when things have been grim.