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New poll asks HRM residents which areas they avoid for safety concerns

Kenny Brown is a bouncer at Charlie’s, a north-end Halifax watering hole frequented by many Gottingen Street denizens.

Kenny Brown is a bouncer at Charlie’s, a north-end Halifax watering hole frequented by many Gottingen Street denizens.

On any given night, Brown sees a smattering of the diverse groups that make up the neighbourhood he calls home — from college-aged hipsters, to life-long residents, to recent condo-dwelling transplants.

And he wasn’t surprised to hear half of respondents to a new poll say they avoid this area over safety concerns.

“A lotta ignorance in Halifax,” Brown said. “Just blame it on Gottingen Street. That’s the easiest way to do it.”

The poll, conducted by Bristol Omnifacts Research for Metro Halifax and the Greater Halifax Partnership, found 70 per cent of respondents avoid certain areas of HRM due to safety concerns.

Forty-nine per cent of those respondents say they avoid Gottingen Street and Uniacke Square area — far and away the highest of any region.

Craig Wright, vice-president of research with Bristol Omnifacts, said the overall numbers are actually down from polling results two years ago.

“It is actually a little better than it was,” Wright said. “But now, arguably, 70 per cent saying they’re afraid to go places is of concern.”

Wright couldn’t speak to why respondents consider the Gottingen Street area dangerous, only that they said they do. But he noted some interesting variations across income levels.

“The highest response for Gottingen comes off (those making more) than $100,000 (a year). It actually goes up to 59 per cent of those people,” he said. “Maybe that’s a bit of historical thing ... I would imagine, but I’m speculating there certainly.”

Halifax Regional Police Chief Frank Beazley said he has problems with identifying areas of HRM as “more” or “less” dangerous than others.

“The problem I run into by picking out Gottingen or picking out Uniacke ... is there (are) other areas that you could be at higher risk,” he said. “And if people start going to some areas and avoiding others ... they may think they’re safer, but they may not be.”

Coun. Dawn Sloane, who represents the area on HRM council, said she thinks people’s phobia of the neighborhood stems from ignorance.

“I feel bad for those people that are so close-minded,” she said.

Sample
CityThink poll sampled 500 residents in HRM last month and carries a margin of error of 4.4 per cent.

Results
Top areas of HRM people avoid due to safety concerns according to CityThink survey. Respondents chose selected areas without input from the questionnaire.
• Gottingen Street/Uniacke Square area, 49%
• Hydrostone area/North-end Halifax, 25%
• Other areas in Dartmouth, aside from listed, 23%
• Downtown Halifax, 21%
• Spryfield, 21%
• Downtown Dartmouth, 10%
• Cherrybrook/Preston, 8%
• Halifax Commons, 7%
• The Peninsula, 5%
• Central Halifax, 4%
• Fairview, 4%
• Highfield Park, 4%

 
 
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