Heritage advocates in Halifax are dismayed by what they say is a lack of protection for historic buildings and don't believe new policies in the Centre Plan will improve the situation.
Three of the past four meetings of the city's heritage advisory committee have been cancelled. City officials said there were no issues to discuss for two of those meetings.
"I find that unbelievable, given the amount that heritage is under threat," saidHalifax resident Peggy Cunningham, who became involved in the fight to save historic homes along Young Avenue.
Other issues more important
It was during that effort, as homes were being demolished to make way for new developments, that Cunningham noticed staff shortages in the city's heritage planning division.
For months,there was only one heritage planner; a second planner was hired temporarily last October and a third has been hired to start later this month.
"I would interpret that as the city thinks there are other issues that are much more important than heritage," said Cunningham.
The latest draft of the Centre Plan, a new development blueprint for the urban core of the city, was released at the end of March. It includes policies for preserving what it calls "cultural landscapes" and a suggestion that 15 neighbourhoods could become heritage conservation districts.
'Not protecting what's here'
But Peggy Cameron, a member of Friends of the Halifax Common, points out it took years to get even one area designated a conservation district, while two others are still pending.
Cameron thinks other rules in the Centre Plan will actually encourage the demolition of important streetscapes.
"New corridors are proposed to increase heights from two storey to between four and six storeys," she said.
"That's a death sentence for 220 homes on Robie Street between North and South Street."
Robie Street is one of 14 corridors in the Centre Plan where building height increases are recommended.
Cameron said redevelopment of the single-family homes along the corridors will create affordability issues and destroy the character of the city.
"It's not protecting what is already here," she said.