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Downtown Halifax sees big business despite construction woes

Jennifer Grudic / Global News

Between Canada Day, Jazz Fest, the Tall Ships Regatta  and now Busker Fest, there’s been very little downtime for downtown businesses this summer.

“There was concern that maybe [construction will] keep people away but it didn’t really seem to by all indications,” said Paul MacKinnon, executive director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission.

“We’ve had some great weather, last year was great too, so things seem to be going really well.”

READ MORE: Halifax Pride Parade attracts tens of thousands of people

With most of the major events being centred around the waterfront, big crowds are translating into big businesses for restaurants, shops and tour operators.

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“Especially with the Tall Ships Festival, because maybe that only happens every four years, that it does really bring a huge influx of people into the city and onto the waterfront,” said Erin Keast, a shift supervisor at Hamachi Steakhouse Bar & Grill.

“For us, we’ve actually had record sales in the whole time that we’ve been open.”

It’s not just Halifax businesses reaping the benefits. This year’s apparent bump is tourism is making its way over to Dartmouth, too.

“The tide rises equally on both sides of the harbour, so when there’s lots of activity on the boardwalk in Halifax, we see an increase over here as well,” said Tim Rissesco, executive director of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Association.

READ MORE: Sails equal sales?: Local Halifax businesses brace for Tall Ships weekend

Rissesco said with Dartmouth just being a short ferry ride away, shops and restaurants along their waterfront are also seeing a lot of extra foot traffic.

“People like to come over and see what we have here in Dartmouth and discover all kinds of unique shops and restaurants that they cant find anywhere else.”

One Dartmouth restaurant saw so many people during the Tall Ships Regatta that they had to halt sales for a brief period.

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“We actually had so many people in here we had to close down for roughly about 45 minutes, re-bake our doughs and reopen again,” said Allyson Harker, owner of Stone Pizza.

Official tourism numbers won’t be released until later in the year, but for now, things are looking sunny in Halifax.

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