Heritage Conservation Districts

What is a heritage conservation district?

A heritage conservation district (HCD) is a defined area containing multiple properties which are (collectively) deemed to have heritage significance. That heritage significance can be comprised of architectural, historical, cultural, or other heritage values.

Heritage conservation districts are developed by the community and for the community, and they incorporate their own plan and by-law which identify the heritage values of the district and how those values are to be preserved. All the properties contained within the district's boundaries become affected by the new plan and by-law, whether they are registered heritage properties, unregistered "contributing" heritage properties, or unregistered non-contributing "existing buildings".

Heritage conservation districts protect heritage and support its ongoing conservation through carefully crafted design guidelines, stronger demolition controls, grant programs (such as the Financial Incentives Program), and the waiving of permit fees.

Established Heritage Conservation Districts

View plans, By-laws, and maps for the established heritage conservation districts below:

The heritage value of Barrington Street lies in the historical and architectural significance of its buildings, its open spaces, and its evolution as Halifax’s principal downtown commercial street over 250 years from settlement to today.

The aim of the Barrington Street Heritage Conservation District is to encourage conservation, restoration and commercial revitalization of Barrington Streets historic buildings, streetscapes, and public spaces.

Both a plan (PDF) and a By-law (PDF) are in place to guide development in the district.

View the district map (PDF) to see which properties are in the district.

The Old South Suburb is a historic suburb which originally developed to the south of the palisade fence surrounding the town of Halifax in the 18th century. Today, the District is located at the southern limit of downtown Halifax, uphill from waterfront lands, overlooking Halifax Harbour to the east. The District includes mixed uses, residential and commercial, and mixed densities, mostly low-rise heritage buildings and several midrise buildings on large consolidated lots developed since the 1950s. 

Both a plan (PDF) and a By-law (PDF) are in place to guide development in the district. 

View the district map (PDF) to see which properties are in the district.

Schmidtville is the first private subdivision in Halifax. The neighbourhood is valued as a largely intact area of traditional architectural character and for its association with the early settlement of Nova Scotia as one of Halifax’s first suburbs outside the fortified fences. Schmidtville is also valued for its association with the economic and social history of Halifax, revealed through its existing character.

The purpose of the Schmidtville Heritage Conservation District is to encourage the preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration of Schmidtville’s historic buildings, streetscapes, and public spaces. This Plan recognizes both the thriving residential community and the historic significance of the built environment in Schmidtville

Both a plan (PDF) and a By-law (PDF) are in place to guide development in the district.

View the district map (PDF) to see which properties are in the district.

Certificates of Appropriateness

Properties located within an established HCD require a Certificate of Appropriateness for certain alterations. To find out whether you require a certificate of appropriateness, please visit this page.

Proposed Heritage Conservation Districts

As part of the Housing Accelerator Fund, there are a total of eight proposed new or expanded HCD study areas in the Regional Centre:

New HCD Study Areas (Proposed):

  • Flower Streets, Dartmouth
  • Ropeworks, Dartmouth
  • Jubilee Road, Halifax
  • Young-Woodill, Halifax

Expanded HCD Study Areas (Proposed):

  • Five Corners, Dartmouth
  • Oakland Road, Halifax
  • Downtown Dartmouth, Dartmouth 
  • Creighton’s Field, Halifax

The boundaries of each proposed study area can be found here. Proposed Heritage Conservation Districts are proposed to be zoned Established Residential 2 (ER-2). This zoning change incentivizes the retention and adaptive re-use of the existing built environment by removing any limit on the number of units for internal conversions and rear additions to existing buildings and by permitting backyard suites (one per lot). New construction is limited to two-unit maximum dwellings with a maximum one backyard suite per lot.

Process for Establishing Heritage Conservation Districts

The HCD Establishment Process involves three steps:

  1. Project initiation;
  2. Community engagement; and
  3. Adoption.

In the first step, the Municipality prepares a background study to support the plan which is reviewed by Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC), approved by Regional Council, and the Minister responsible for the Heritage Property Act. The second step includes the public engagement process and may include public meetings, community surveys, and/or community workshops. In the third step, the Plan and By-law are reviewed by HAC, adopted by Regional Council, and approved by the Minister responsible for the Heritage Property Act.

Old South Suburb HCD Recognized for National Planning Excellence Award

The Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) has honoured the Halifax Regional Municipality with one of its prestigious Awards for Planning Excellence for 2021. The annual awards, which recognize innovation, impact on the profession, overall presentation, and implementation potential, are the highest level of recognition the Institute bestows on professional planning projects. 

Award of Excellence Winner:
Halifax Regional Municipality Planning and Development
Project: Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District Plan
Category: Planning Practice

Here's what the jury had to say about the plan:   
“The Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District Plan is a comprehensive heritage plan and is an excellent example of the implementation of a planning approach for the protection and enhancement of the historic built environment. It maintains the historic and cultural value of the neighbourhood while offering controlled densification. The plan seeks to preserve the integrity of historical buildings by encouraging the retention of whole buildings, and provides creative regulations for architects, designers, and urban planners, while using placemaking and walkable destinations for residents and visitors to support and encourage economic growth.”