The port released the results of the public consultation they performed to solicit feedback on port expansion and how the port operates within the community. The consultation was conducted by Hill+Knowlton Strategies via a survey to two groups in March and April 2019.
Support for port is strong, with the majority from both groups agreeing or strongly agreeing that the port is important to the economy and quality of life in the region. Among the groups, the rational for port expansion is understood, and is supported by similar numbers of respondents.
We covered the examined options for port expansion in January
Despite some strong advocacy for moving Halterm to Dartmouth, survey respondents favored the Halterm North expansion option over the move. Halterm North would see the south end finger piers that make up the ocean terminals infilled to add an additional berth. More than 50% of respondents were indifferent or against moving to Dartmouth. Less than 31% were indifferent or against Halterm expansion.
The respondents indicated their priority considerations regarding port expansion were the impact on local neighborhoods, and access to road and Rail. On the question of truck volume downtown, most felt it was an issue, and there was strong support for reducing trucks, and expanding rail to do so.
The survey results are good news for the port. The port has some clear direction, and support from the public. Expansion can be done, but the port must also be a good neighbour. The recent announcement on federal funding to remove trucks from the downtown and enhancing rail service between the terminals was likely driven by the port and the government taking survey feedback in this regard seriously.
The Consultation consisted of two survey groups. The open group consisted of anyone who wanted to fill out the survey online. 1,911 answered some or all the survey questions. The majority of this group were working age, and 23% identified as a downtown commuter. A second group, was a demographically representative sample of 1012 participants from across the province. 33% of this group was retired, and the age group tended to skew to age 45+. It was also 50% of HRM and 50% from the province at large.
As would be expected, responses to the open survey were likely from interested parties, but the results among both groups show the same preferences overall.
Full results, and the expansion options can be viewed at www.portcityhfx.ca