Tower Road heritage building may be up for demolition
History lovers say loss of heritage buildings leave 'big gaps'
January 16, 2020, 10:00 pm ASTLast Updated: January 16, 2020, 10:00 pm
There is confusion and sadness about the potential demolition of a heritage building in south-end Halifax.
Seven people spoke out at a heritage advisory committee meeting Wednesday. None of them were in favour of the proposed demolition of the 202-year-old building at 1029 Tower Rd.
Rebecca Jamieson has often walked by the “quirky little building” tucked between taller buildings. Speaking of her love of heritage and history, she worries about the loss of heritage buildings in the Halifax Regional Municipality in the last few years.
“These streetscapes are going to have big gaps. It’s going to be like someone’s nice smile with a whole lot of empty teeth,” said Jamieson.
The house has gone through numerous owners in 200 years, from apothecarist Charles Puttner Jr. to Dr. James Doull who helped organize the World Health Organization. Writer Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne Shirley of Green Gables, used the house as a reference point for her book.
Stefan Frent bought 1029 Tower Rd. on July 27, 2016. He applied to HRM to demolish the building on Jan. 25, 2017.
Under the Nova Scotia Heritage Property Act, property owners of designated heritage sites must wait three years after applying for demolition or a major renovation.
Elizabeth Cushing, a heritage consultant in Dartmouth, considers that waiting period unnecessary.
“The three-year rule for demolition continues to undermine the decisions that HAC (heritage advisory committee) and regional council make, and revisions to this rule have been recommended since the 1970s,” she told the committee.
Even if regional council votes against demolition, the property owner still has the right to demolish after three years.
This waiting period is “considered a serious limitation of the Heritage Property Act,” said Seamus McGreal, a heritage planner with HRM’s planning and development heritage program.
Frent was not at Wednesday’s meeting. Kent Noseworthy, Frent’s representative, noted several structural issues with the building on Tower Road.
“The building’s foundation is sitting on bare ground, the visual structure report showed that there was some rot. My client reports that the floors are sagging, the report did not identify that. The house is oriented facing Point Pleasant Park. For someone to get a view of the property they would have to trespass on to the property to get a full-frontal view,” said Noseworthy.
McGreal said there are options besides demolition. He suggested since the lot is 5,000 square feet and the small building is only taking up 16 per cent of the space, there may be room for a four-unit, three-storey building. By reorienting the building to face the street, this would fix the issue of awkward placement, he added.
The heritage committee hopes Frent will consider other options besides demolition, and will be sending the minutes of Wednesday’s meeting to the regional council for its input.
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