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Historic buildings could be saved by new infrastructure program

A national heritage group is praising a new federal infrastructure program that puts a focus on heritage buildings.

Historic buildings present challenges for developers

Renovations were completed on the historic Kays Building in downtown Charlottetown with the help of provincial government funding. (CBC)

A national heritage group is praising a new federal infrastructure program that puts a focus on heritage buildings.

The new Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program was announced in last week's federal budget.

Natalie Bull, executive director of the National Trust for Canada, said historic buildings can be difficult for developers to take on.

"We really see so many cases like this where there is a need for some kind of incentive to help level the playing field for historic buildings," said Bull.

"They're often more complicated, there are surprises in the restoration process, so many developers just stay away from them."

The trust releases a Top 10 Endangered Places list for Canada each year, focusing on historic buildings that are in bad shape.

In 2011, the Kays Brothers building in downtown Charlottetown was on the list. The province stepped in with a $1 million investment to help with the $6.5 million renovation. The building was saved from demolition, and is now noted as "saved" on the trust's webpage.

Bull hopes the new federal fund could offer the same hope for buildings across the country, particularly many lighthouses the federal government have divested to community groups. 

There is no dollar figure attached to the new federal fund yet. Ottawa says the details will be released in the next few months.

The National Trust for Canada will release its 2015 list of endangered places on May 20. Bull says several P.E.I. buildings have been nominated for this year's top ten. 

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