Some residents of the Whitney Pier area of Sydney, N.S., want their community to be designated a national historic site.

Area representatives met last week with officials from Parks Canada to talk about the application process.

Whitney Pier has been the melting pot of Cape Breton since the early 1900s, when immigrants from around the world moved to the area to work at the now defunct Sydney Steel plant or the many coal mines.

The opening of the steel mill by the Dominion Steel Company in 1901 attracted workers from Poland, Ukraine, Croatia, Italy, the Caribbean and Newfoundland, as well as many black Nova Scotians.

Evelyn Davis, who has lived in the area all her life, said it is a special place that deserves recognition.

"I think it's very exciting, to us, because we've always thought of it as very special, those of us who come from Whitney Pier think of this as a great multicultural destination," she told CBC News.

"We all grew up with different friends, in different communities, and you know, people are people. If you spend enough time with people, there's no difference — it didn't make any difference who they were or where they came from."

Parks Canada officials at the Fortress Louisbourg said they're willing to help the community apply to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada for designation.

Anne Marie Jonah, a historian at Fortress Louisbourg, said it can take years both to prepare the application, and then get a decision from the board.

"We're at the very first step of just talking to the community about what's involved in working with the board," she said.

The board gets more than 200 requests every year for historical designation, of which 50 to 70 will generate research papers from the Historical Services Branch or the Archaeological Services Branch of the National Historic Sites Directorate of Parks Canada, says the Historic Site and Monuments Board of Canada website.

National historic sites in Nova Scotia include Annapolis Royal, the Hydrostone area of Halifax and Old Town Lunenburg, which has also been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.