Nova Scotia Improves Protection for Heritage Properties

Tourism, Culture and Heritage (To Jan. 7)

December 1, 2010 2:09 PM

Nova Scotia's historic buildings will be better protected by an updated Heritage Property Act introduced today, Dec. 1.

The amendments include changes to the rules for altering or demolishing municipal heritage properties and put more focus on the heritage value of protected buildings.

"We're modernizing the act with changes that will protect important pieces of our heritage while municipalities and developers consider new uses for these properties," said Percy Paris, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. "The act will ensure that heritage properties continue to benefit communities, which makes life better for families throughout Nova Scotia."

The time period for municipalities to consider applications for substantial alteration or demolition of a municipally registered heritage property will change from one year to three years. Under the amendments, municipalities, property owners and developers will be encouraged to use the extended time period for dialogue. If the application is not approved by the municipality at the end of three years and the changes are carried out, the municipality may choose to deregister the property.

The heritage value of a property will be determined by its character-defining elements, or the aspects of the property that make it historically significant. Character-defining elements may include architectural elements or a special association with a person or event.

The definition of substantial alteration -- changing the appearance or physical make up of a heritage property -- will be linked to the property's heritage value. In the current act, substantial alteration is not defined and it may not be clear what part of a property can be changed without compromising its heritage value. This change will allow heritage property owners to better manage their properties.

Penalties for corporations that substantially alter or demolish a registered property without permission will be increased from $100,000 to $250,000. Penalties for individuals who do not follow the act remain at $10,000.

Under the amendments, abandonment and neglect of a property will no longer be a basis of an application for deregistration. The Municipal Government Act will continue to address concerns around abandoned and neglected properties.

Two types of heritage resources will also receive new protection. Cultural landscapes and the public interiors of government-owned buildings will be able to be considered for registration. The current act does not provide for their heritage protection.

Amendments to the act will align it more closely with the provincial Municipal Government Act and the federal Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.

Government will establish criteria through regulations for evaluating the heritage value of a property when it is considered for provincial registration. It will also establish criteria for appointing members to the Advisory Council on Heritage Property, which reviews applications for provincial heritage property registration.

Input from public consultations and recommendations from a cross-jurisdictional report and the government's heritage strategy, A Treasured Past, A Precious Future, were considered as the amendments were developed.


FOR BROADCAST USE:

Government is introducing changes to the Heritage Property

Act today (December 1st) that will provide more protection for

heritage properties and cultural landscapes.

     Among the changes is extending the time period from one year

to three years to substantially alter or demolish a municipal

heritage property.

     Tourism, Culture and Heritage Minister Percy Paris says the

changes will protect important pieces of Nova Scotia's heritage

while communities and developers consider new uses for heritage

properties.

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Media Contact: Kyla Friel
              Tourism, Culture and Heritage
              902-471-4128
              E-mail: frielkv@gov.ns.ca