Heritage Council approves heritage designation for Schmidtville

HALIFAX – Heritage Council voted unanimously Wednesday to ask regional council to designate Schmidtville as a heritage conservation district.

They also added a recommendation that Regional Council seek permission from the province to allow Halifax to stop new development in the area until the heritage process is complete.

The area, which sits south of Spring Garden Road, is roughly bordered by Queen Street, Clyde Street, Dresdon Row and Morris Street.

It is associated with the early settlement of Nova Scotia and is one of the first suburbs outside the fortified palisade fence.

“Schmidtville is one of the oldest, contiguous, heritage neighbourhoods in Halifax,” Larry Haiven, from the community group Friends of Schmidtville, told Global News. “Some of the houses date back to the late 1700s.”

Haiven said he didn’t realize how historically significant the area was before he moved into it, but the more he researches the more information he learns.

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According to a city staff report on the neighbourhood, it was established by James Pedley in 1781, and was originally known as Pedley’s Fields. His daughter, Elizabeth, married Christian Schmidt, a Loyalist and captain in King George III’S Royal Foreign Artillery and after Pedley’s death the property went to her.

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In 1830, Elizabeth subdivided the land into 79 plots and the area was substantially developed by 1837, then known as Schmidt’s Ville.

Haiven said many in the neighbourhood were worried that the buildings will be torn down to make way for new development. “If you look at Halifax, even though it looks as if there’s a lot of heritage buildings, the heritage is eroding,” he said. “We don’t have that many places that have an entire neighbourhood.”

The houses are mainly Georgian architecture, which was popular in the English-speaking world until about 1840, but also has Victorian architecture.

A city staff report has found the area was historically significant and recommended it be designated as a Heritage Conservation District, which would give the city the power to regulate certain things.

“Demolition controls and controls over changes to the exterior buildings,” Seamus McGreal, Heritage Planner with the City of Halifax, said. “But also financial incentives to help property owners maintain their historic properties.”

Halifax currently has one heritage conservation district, which extends along Barrington Street from Duke Street to Bishop Street.

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Now that Heritage Council has approved city staff’s recommendation, the matter will go to Regional Council, which will vote whether or not to initiate the process.

That process would involve public hearings and meetings with stakeholders before the final decision is made.

If everything goes through, the heritage designation would be in place by next summer.

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