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Halifax takes first steps toward establishing third heritage district

Halifax has taken the first step towards creating a third heritage district.
Halifax has taken the first step towards creating a third heritage district. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) has taken the first steps towards creating a third heritage district — an area of the municipality that has specific rules ensuring the preservation of its unique historic value.

Halifax’s community planning and economic development standing committee voted on Tuesday to pass the first reading of a proposal to create the Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District.

The HRM has already established two heritage districts: the Barrington Street Heritage Conservation District in 2009 and the Schmidtville Heritage Conservation District in 2018.

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The proposed district is detailed in a 381-page report prepared by municipal staff.

The new proposed heritage conservation district would stretch from Bishop Street down to the Atlantic Superstore on Barrington Street.

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It would include prominent landmarks like the Westin Hotel, Canadian National Railway Station, Cornwallis Park and Keith Hall.

A map of the proposed Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District in Halifax, N.S.
A map of the proposed Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District in Halifax, N.S. Halifax Regional Municipality

The area was one of the first contiguous suburbs of the old fortified town of Halifax.

A large amount of the district’s heritage value comes from its architectural character, which captures the city’s “associations with the early social and waterfront city including the vibrant railway industry of the 1920s and 30s.”

Approximately two-thirds of all of the properties in the district have some measure of historical significance and there are already 44 registered heritage properties in the proposed district.

Public engagement starts on potential for cultural hub along Halifax Waterfront
Public engagement starts on potential for cultural hub along Halifax Waterfront

Establishing a heritage conservation district allows Halifax to preserve buildings in the area from demolition or exterior alteration.

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The municipality also said that it creates a “comprehensive strategy” that will help protect, conserve and even revitalize the district.

There are still many steps to go before the proposed district becomes a reality; next up is a yet-to-be-scheduled public hearing before a Halifax Regional Council vote on the second reading of the proposal is held.

The provincial Minister for Communities, Culture and Heritage will also be required to sign off on the creation of the district.