Despite being the fourth most avoided area of HRM due to safety concerns, downtown Halifax is considered mostly safe by the majority of respondents of a new poll.

The CityThink survey, conducted by Bristol Omnifacts Research for Metro Halifax and the Greater Halifax Partnership, found 65 per cent of respondents consider downtown Halifax “mostly safe,” and another six per cent “very safe.”

The combined total is about 20 per cent higher than results from the same survey done by Metro Halifax and Bristol in 2008.

But further on in the new survey, when respondents were asked to list areas of Halifax they avoid due to safety concerns, downtown Halifax was No. 4 on the list at 21 per cent.

Craig Wright, vice-president of research at Bristol Omnifacts, said the cause of the discrepancy may lie in the different situations people find themselves in downtown.

“People are in downtown at different times,” Wright explained. “Going to work, it’s the daytime, or it’s Saturday morning, (and safety) would probably never cross your mind.

Whereas now I’m (downtown) at 11:30 at night, and there’s a bunch of bar people around, so I probably just naturally feel less safe.”

Halifax Regional Police Chief Frank Beazley agreed that feeling safe in an area like downtown Halifax largely depends on the context.

“At 3 a.m., you could be at higher risk being down there than you would be in the downtown area somewhere else,” Beazley said. “If people feel unsafe in certain areas, I think people will avoid those areas. And that would be the right thing for them to do.”

According to Beazley, a person’s behaviour in downtown Halifax, like any other part of HRM, tends to determine how safe or dangerous the area is for that person.

“Is downtown Halifax safe? I would say it is for most of the people. But for the people who engage in risky drinking and do those other types of things, it becomes less safe,” he said. “People have to use their head, to take into consideration what they’re doing. People have to police themselves.”

The CityThink survey interviewed 500 people in HRM over the last two weeks of April. It carries a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

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