Nova Scotia

Save Young Avenue group calls for historical designation for Halifax street

Members of the Save Young Avenue group are pushing Halifax to make it more difficult for developers to tear down the large homes on the street and build new ones.

Residents also push for increased lot size to make subdividing more difficult

In 2006, the Brookfield Stanbury House on Young Avenue in Halifax was demolished and replaced with five houses. (Submitted)

Members of a group committed to saving large houses on Young Avenue in Halifax are encouraging the city to make changes — such as awarding historical designation and increasing lot size — in the hopes of making it more difficult for developers to tear down existing homes.

Residents formed a group called Save Young Avenue after a number of the older houses on the street were sold to developers.

Group members gathered at the Halifax Central Library on Monday to discuss their concerns with city staff.

You get these long narrow houses that really create kind of like canyons on the street.- Peggy Cunningham

There is no rule against subdividing on Young Avenue. In 2006, for instance, the Brookfield Stanbury House was demolished and replaced with five houses. 

When Peggy Cunningham bought her home at 950 Young Ave. six years ago, she ended up in a bidding war with two developers who wanted to convert the lot into multiple townhouses. 

However, Save Young Avenue is not opposed to new construction on the street, Cunningham said.

"It's a dynamic and living street," she said. "But there is a certain kind of house that fits, and is more sensitive to the types of houses that exist on the street right now." 

Cunningham pointed to a couple of modern houses on the street that are "exceptional," and a few restored houses that now contain multiple units, as examples of development that fits the street.

In general, she said, group members want to see "wider lots and houses with character." 

Young Avenue's Cleveland Estate was recently sold. The Save Young Avenue committee says the new owner is a developer who plans to tear it down and replace it with several homes. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

Petition to increase lot size

The group is now circulating a petition that proposes the city increase the lot size on the street from 12 metres to 24 metres. Cunningham said this would make it less financially viable for developers to knock down one of the big houses and build multiple units in its place.

She said the problem with a smaller lot allowance is you can squeeze in more houses.

"You get these long narrow houses that really create kind of like canyons on the street."

Pitch for historical designation

Cunningham said the group also plans to apply for historical designation for the area, which would limit the type of development allowed.

"It wouldn't prevent people from doing reasonable things to their homes," she said. "But it would prevent the bulldozing of … historical homes and the replacement by houses that aren't of the same kind of standard or quality." 

There are economic reasons for making these changes, she said, including higher tax revenue for the municipality, increased tourism, and more jobs for workers in the restoration industry. 

The Save Young Avenue group wants to make it more difficult for developers to tear down existing homes. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

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