Nova Scotia

Barrington Street height limit increase considered

The Halifax Regional Municipality is considering increasing the height limit for several properties at the south end of Barrington Street, including a lot that has been vacant since a fire two years ago.

Proposal will affect Westin Nova Scotian, Via Rail and Atlantic Superstore

This lot on the corner of South and Hollis streets has been vacant since a fire two years ago. (CBC)

The Halifax Regional Municipality is considering increasing the height limit for several properties at the south end of Barrington Street, including a lot that has been vacant since a fire two years ago.

Although the current height restriction on the site is 45 feet or approximately 13.7 metres, planners with the municipality want to change that to nearly 22 metres — approximately seven storeys.

Waye Mason, the councillor for Peninsula South Downtown, said the lower height restriction was kept in place while new rules were developed for the Barrington Street Heritage Conservation District near the street's south end.

But some historical buildings at the corner of South and Hollis streets had to be demolished after faulty wiring sparked a fire two years ago — the lot has been vacant since.

Mason said he doesn't think the previous height restrictions need to be in place for a vacant lot.

"Council decided to maintain the 45-feet height limit because we are supposed to be doing the Barrington South Conservation District. They wanted to put stronger controls in place to protect the neighbourhood while that came together," he told CBC News.

"The heritage district is deeply delayed but now that that building is gone, maintaining a 45-feet height limit on that, I'm not convinced is necessary."

The proposed height limit increase, which was discussed Thursday night at a meeting of the Halifax Regional Municipality's Design Review Committee, would also raise the height limits for the nearby Westin Nova Scotian, Via Rail and Atlantic Superstore properties.

Halifax regional council has the final say on the decision.

"We have this developer whose building burned down and it was a tragedy and we need to work on that particular site, but the big issue is we need the Barrington South Conservation District to be done so everybody knows where they stand," said Mason.

Phil Pacey, of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, said the proposal alarms him.

"If somebody could buy the train station and put up a seven-storey building, that would be a financial incentive to do that," he said.

"If the height limit stays at just about the same height as the current building, it makes it more likely that this beautiful building will continue to exist."