The owner of a downtown building strongly opposes Halifax council’s decision to approve heritage designation.
Jackie Kinley, owner of the building at 5943 Spring Garden Rd., did not want her property to gain heritage status.
“I wouldn’t have bought it if I knew that decisions about how I invested that money were going to be made without my consultation,” she said at regional council on Tuesday.
The Victorian-era building was built around 1907 and received a score of 60 out of 100 from council’s heritage advisory committee. The score is based on the building’s age, its relationship to the surrounding area and its architectural style, integrity and importance.
Regional council made the request for heritage designation on the recommendation of the heritage advisory committee.
The committee had also endorsed two other properties to be evaluated for heritage status. The two buildings, located nearby on Carlton Street, were demolished before council had a chance to review them.
“And so, if it’s not registered down the line, I mean, it could be the pile of rubble on that corner instead of the landmark that it is,” Coun. Sam Austin said. “So, I’m going to support the registration.”
City heritage planner Aaron Murnaghan said that over one-third of unregistered buildings with heritage merit have been demolished in the downtown area since 2009.
Kinley’s main concerns with having her property registered under heritage status are the high costs associated with maintaining the integrity of the building.
“There is a reason why people build new buildings. These ones are very difficult to take care of, so, there are significant costs,” she said.
Kinley is eligible to receive up to $25,000 every two years for maintenance but does not feel that the funds are enough to address the building’s issues. Councillors agree that policies around heritage funding need revision.
Coun. Shawn Cleary said he would support a motion to increase funds for heritage property owners.
“Heritage property is a public good just like our roads and bridges are, and we pay for that. So, if we believe heritage is a public good and we all benefit from it, we need to pay more for it,” he said.
Coun. David Hendsbee said there are already many programs in place for properties registered under heritage status, such as grants and tax rebates.
“If you ask me, I think we’re doing her a favour in regard to registering this property in assisting her with the opportunities accessing these other programs and services,” he said.
Councillors voted 12-4 in favour of granting 5943 Spring Garden Rd. heritage designation. Councillors Becky Kent, Tony Mancini, Iona Stoddard and Mayor Mike Savage voted against the motion.
Councillors also voted to give 5492 Inglis St., built in 1891, heritage status. The building once belonged to Alexander Stephen, who was mayor of Halifax from 1897 to 1899. The building scored 58 points out of 100 on the heritage committee’s evaluation.
Ziad Lawen spoke on behalf of his family, which owns the property.
“We were happy to contribute to the heritage of Halifax and hope to contribute to its future as well,” he said. “We’re also in favour of this process. And the team did a great job, so it was all around good experience.”