Plans announced earlier this week to develop church lands in downtown Halifax could disturb a 200-year-old graveyard.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax, along with developer Joe Ramia of Rank Inc., is planning to build a Cathedral Centre. It would be located in the parking lot beside St. Mary's Basilica at the corner of Spring Garden Road and Grafton Street.

But one parishioner at the Basilica wonders if many people realize what's under the pavement.

ns-ip-robertson-220

Allen Robertson wants the church to consider moving the development. (CBC)

"The invisible cemetery is right here, it's where the founding families for the church of Halifax have been laid to rest," said Allen Robertson. "Most of whom were labourers, small businessmen, shop keepers, domestics, occasional merchants."

There are more than 2,000 graves. Most of those buried there were of Irish descent.

"When Holy Cross was opened, some of the more well-to-do families moved some of the headstones and some of the remains to Holy Cross, but the majority were left behind."

Robertson said the cemetery dates back to the late 1700's. He's concerned that the new development could lead to digging up the graves.

"Parishioners would be interested in knowing this isn't just an empty lot," he said.

Robertson hopes the church, along with developers and city planners, will keep the historic underground gravesites in mind as they move the plan forward.

In a statement to the CBC, the Archdiocese said they will comply with all regulations and they will have archeological services in place to ensure the work is carried out properly.