Halifax regional council rejected a motion Tuesday to give heritage designation to a home in the south end of the city that is already "halfway to being torn down."

Demolition had already begun on the property at 825 Young Ave., but the municipality issued a stop work order Tuesday because tenants are still living inside.

"It's one of the most horrible things I've ever seen," said Coun. Waye Mason.

"There are people living in a building that is halfway to being torn down and is not safe."

'Mission was accomplished by owner' 

Mason said the prospective owner hurried to close the sale after the municipality's Heritage Advisory Committee passed a motion to ask council to expedite heritage registration for the building last week.

"The mission was accomplished by the owner," said Mason. "Because who wants to put a heritage designation — registration — on a building that's halfway torn down? That doesn't make sense."

Mason said once council saw photos of the building, with the damage that had been done to it, they voted 10-6 against the motion to register it as a heritage property.

Race to demolish

Mason said it's the second time the same developer — Stavros "Steve" Tsimiklis of Dino Capital Ltd. — beat the municipality in a race to demolish a home before it could be given heritage status. The same thing happened in April to the property next door, and sparked neighbours to launch the Save Young Avenue campaign.

Peggy Cunningham lives on Young Avenue and had been lobbying the municipality to stop the demolition. She said she was disappointed council did not continue with the heritage designation. 

"The house is still standing," said Cunningham. "They've done some damage to it, but it's certainly not half torn down." 

Long-term solution in the works

Cunningham called the move by council appalling and said she believes the damage that was done could have been fixed. 

Mason said the municipality is working on a long-term solution to change the bylaw or give the entire street heritage designation, but it takes time. 

"Unfortunately the system is not set up to very quickly move on these things. It's usually voluntary registration, or you do an entire district and you take a year to two years to register it, and then you have very strong controls at that point," he said.