Heritage Property Program

Heritage Property Program

The purpose of the Heritage Property Program is to conserve significant heritage resources including buildings, streetscapes, sites, areas, and districts that reflect the rich heritage throughout the municipality.

The principal aims of the Heritage Property Program are to:

  • Recognize significant heritage resources and support their inclusion in the Registry of Heritage Property for the Halifax Regional Municipality and the designation of Heritage Conservation Districts
  • Provide conservation advice and information to heritage property owners
  • Facilitate the ongoing maintenance, preservation, restoration, and the reuse/rehabilitation of heritage properties through financial incentives and the administration of provincial and municipal regulations
  • Work with community organizations and educational institutions to research and identify potential new heritage resources and initiatives

The Registry of Heritage Properties in Halifax Regional Municipality serves as a complete list of registered heritage properties in HRM. 

Benefits to Registered Heritage Properties

The conservation of built heritage is an important part of creating a liveable, sustainable and human-scale communities in HRM. Heritage buildings provide a link to our past, while providing interesting and unique streetscapes and neighbourhoods through their varied architecture and the stories they tell about the evolution of our communities. 

We conserve our heritage properties to: 

  • Enhance our quality of life and sense of history, community and identity
  • Improve our economic well-being by employing local craftspeople and trades people in conservation work
  • Add diversity and character to new development
  • Contribute to sustainability by reducing landfill waste, and lessening the demand for energy and resources needed for new construction

There are also a number of benefits associated with owning a registered Municipal Heritage Property:

  • Recognition - a plaque is installed to officially recognize the property as an important asset to the rich cultural heritage of the community and region
  • Advice - Heritage staff can provide free conservation advice and on-site consultation. They can also provide valuable information on heritage properties and guidance in their ongoing management and maintenance.
  • Support - the municipality and the Province provide funding programs aimed at assisting heritage property owners in the maintenance of their buildings
  • Flexibility - the municipality provides a measure of creative flexibility in the adaptive reuse/rehabilitation of heritage properties and in new development on heritage properties
  • Protection - significant changes to the exterior of a heritage property require review by the Heritage Advisory Committee and approval by Regional Council. This measure of protection applies even after ownership of the property is transferred. Heritage properties are also protected from demolition by the Heritage Property Act of Nova Scotia.

In several plan areas, registered heritage property owners can also apply for uses and structures that may not be permitted in zoning regulations through the development agreement process.

Registering a Heritage Property

The municipality follows the Heritage Property Act’s standard process for heritage registration. If you would like to add a property to the Municipal Registry of Heritage Properties, please submit a completed application form to the Heritage Property Program. 

On May 14, 2019, Halifax Regional Council initiated a process to evaluate 61 historic buildings in downtown Halifax for their potential inclusion in the Registry of Heritage Properties. Property Owners have been notified by mail that their property is being evaluated for potential heritage registration and may have questions.

Maintaining a Heritage Property

If you are thinking of doing renovations to your heritage property, we recommend that you contact Heritage staff who can provide you with free expert advice including technical information and support as well as on-site consultation. They can also help to determine if official heritage approvals are required.

UPDATE: New Submission Requirements for Developments on Heritage Properties within the municipality

On December 14, 2021, Halifax Regional Council approved amendments to municipal By-law H-200, which will affect the submission requirements for development and planning applications that involve registered heritage properties within the municipality. The staff report can be found here. As a next step, this will go to the provincial government for approval. This web page will be updated as information becomes available. 

Non-Substantial Alterations

Registration as a heritage property means that the heritage value of the property will be considered when a building or development permit application is submitted for modifications to the structure or use of the property. 

Registration as a Municipal Heritage Property will have little effect on most property owners. Typically, most alterations fall under the category of maintenance and repair and are approved by heritage staff with little delay.

Substantial Alterations

Those alterations which are considered substantial require review by the Heritage Advisory Committee and approval by Regional Council. The term substantial alteration is defined in the Heritage Property Act. It usually applies to significant changes to the exterior appearance of the property such as modifications to character defining elements or changes to the form or volume of the building. Heritage staff are always available to discuss projects.

Owners of registered heritage properties must request approval from the municipality for substantial alterations to their heritage property. HRM follows the Heritage Property Act’s standard process for the evaluation and approval of substantial alteration applications.

The following items are required for staff to review your request:
•    cover letter describing the project;
•    drawings to scale – including proposed materials;
•    site plan – including the civic address and property boundaries.

Insuring a Heritage Property

The official heritage registration of a home should not have any effect on the insurance policy but you may need to shop around. A registered heritage home is insured with the same type of policy as any other older home. Repairs will be made and items replaced in the same manner. Remember, the insurer is interested in the whole house not just the exterior appearance.