Province House a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

After years of lobbying, Jim Macnutt says a preliminary decision could come in "the next few months." But that's just a milestone, not an end, to the journey.

Long campaign for recognition may be nearing a breakthrough

Jim Macnutt says Province House "meets all criteria to some degree." (Brian Higgins/CBC)

An Island lawyer, who has spent years lobbying to have Province House designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, says Parks Canada may make a preliminary decision on his application "in the next few months."

"I am hopeful Parks Canada will choose to add Province House to its tentative list," said Jim Macnutt.

It's the job of Parks Canada to compile candidate sites for its officially designated tentative list, from which the federal government then chooses nominees for consideration by the United Nations.

Parks Canada accepted Macnutt's application in late December, he said.

Macnutt's application includes P.E.I.'s Province House (above) and the Nova Scotia Legislature in Halifax. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Macnutt has spent years developing the application document, and the arguments it puts forward. In addition to practicing law, Macnutt is a published author in the field of architectural history.

He is acting as a private citizen in this effort, and has lobbied city, provincial and federal officials, seeking their support. Macnutt's application also includes the Nova Scotia provincial legislature building in Halifax.

Nova Scotia's Province House is also included in the application. (Robert Short/CBC)

"These buildings have universal value," said Macnutt. "Province House, with its Greek architectural influences, represents the ancient roots of democracy worldwide, and the birthplace of Canadian Confederation."

The restoration work now underway at Province House may influence the outcome of Macnutt's application.

"World Heritage Sites have to be well maintained. If a site deteriorates, UNESCO can remove designation," said Macnutt. "The Province House restoration is the sort of thing UNESCO is looking for."

Macnutt says Province House represents a seat of democracy, in its Greek-influenced architectural style, and its role in Canandian confederation. (CBC)

'Outstanding universal value?'

UNESCO currently has 1,052 World Heritage Sites in 165 countries. They include the pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China. Canada is home to 18 World Heritage Sites. Three of them are located in the Maritimes; Lunenburg, Joggins Fossil Cliffs and Grand Pré.

According to the Parks Canada website, it takes at least two years for a site on its tentative list to be fully assessed, before a decision is made to present the application to the UN. In comparison with similar sites around the world, it must have 'Outstanding Universal Value', according to the website.

Macnutt is a published author on the subject of architectural history and democratic institutions. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"Province House meets all criteria to some degree," said Macnutt.

He'd like to see Province House become a World Heritage Site by 2023.

"The 150th anniversary of P.E.I. entering Confederation," he said.