I attended a fairly interesting meeting this afternoon. About a month ago I received a letter inviting me to a "Targeted Stakeholder Focus Group" consultation about the Nova Scotia Heritage Property Act review. I know, you are sitting there thinking "with a title like that how could the meeting be anything but exciting"? For those of us who fall well within the vaunted heritage nerd demographic this actually is an interesting meeting.
First off, I am thrilled that the province is undertaking this review because there are a few sections of the current legislation which drive me to distraction. Banging my head off the desk and writing letters to elected officials distraction. The worst section (Section 18 if you would like to know) allows owners of registered heritage properties to alter or demolish a building even if the proposed work has been rejected by the municipal authority. All the owner needs to do is wait a year from the date of the rejected application and they can merrily destroy something which the community has judged to be a heritage asset. It has always struck me as farcical that we have legislation protecting our important heritage buildings but only protecting them a tiny little bit.
There was a good deal of positive discussion about the economic and social value of built heritage. We discussed the current incentives to owners of heritage properties and how these could be improved. Public education, the need to train new craftspeople, exporting our heritage buildings to other countries and the environmental benefits of old homes were all part of the afternoon. While the discussions were good, it will take political will on the part of the Province to enact any meaningful changes.
If you would like to, there is still an opportunity to provide input into the review process. There is a background document as well as an online survey. If you are interested in the preservation of Nova Scotia's built heritage, I would strongly encourage you to make your voice heard.
All for now,