Protest Today @ Elmwood Hotel

Some folks are meeting at 1pm Saturday Sept 16 to protest the demolition of the Elmwood Hotel. Though demolition permits have been issued, Public awareness may have an effect on the developers intentions.

Feel Free to join in at 1pm

2017 Jane’s Walks


Peter Ziobrowski will be leading a walk down  Young Ave.

Meet Friday at Noon, at the woman’s council house. walk will depart 12:15ish and take about 30min.


Oathill Lake

MEET: by the concrete outfall (close to the corner of Lorne Avenue and Fairfield Avenue)
AT: Sat 9:00
Lead By: Iain Macleod

Oathill Lake is a small gem of a lake practically hidden in the heart of downtown Dartmouth. Depending on the season, the lake is a playground for swimming and boating, fishing and skating. The surrounding parkland is incredibly diverse, home to one of the most extensive selections of native plant species.Come and discover one of Dartmouth’s most appealing natural attractions. Over a short stroll, we’ll explain our efforts to conserve the ecology of this wonderful water system.

Mainland North Linear Trail

MEET: Westridge Drive off Willett Street, parking lot near ball field and dog park.
AT:Sat 9am
Lead By:Wendy Macdonald

Explore Mainland North along the Linear Trail, an Active Transportation route that links neighbourhoods and community assets as well as providing an active living corridor. Join members of Halifax North West Trails. Families welcome.

Everything you wanted to know about Edward Cornwallis but were afraid to ask

MEET: Outside of Murphys the Cable Wharf (aka Murphy’s on the Waterfront)
AT:Sat 10:30
Lead By: Jon Tatrie

We start at Murphy’s the Cable Wharf, walk up to the Parade Square, and then  up to Citadel Hill. In about an hour, we’ll learn what Cornwallis was doing here, why he chose this site, and why the Mi’kmaq people resisted

The ‘Common Link’ Walk

MEET: The fountain at the South end of Victoria Park (near the corner of University Avenue and South Park)
AT:Sat 10:00
Lead By:Ron Scott

Walk the ‘Common Link’ – a beautiful 5 kilometer pathway linking Halifax’s inner city green spaces and its surrounding areas. Phase 2 of the Common Link pathway project is planned for implementation this summer.

Downtown Dartmouth’s Oldest  Houses

MEET: Queen Street Post Office, Downtown Dartmouth.
AT:Sat 11:00am
Lead By:David Jones

Join archaeologist and local historian David Jones for an exploration of the early built heritage of Downtown Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Meet at 11am, Saturday, at the Queen Street Post Office, Downtown Dartmouth.

Halifax Real Estate Development 101

MEET:Corner of Sackville and South Park in front of Public Gardens.
AT:Sat 1:00pm
Lead By:Kouroush Rad

Wondering about all the new development projects happening in and around Halifax? Trying to wrap your head around the development process and the Centre Plan? Worried about the balance between heritage preservation and progress? We’ll take a walk around Downtown and talk about developments recently completed, under construction, or planned. As part of the discussion, we will point out good heritage preservation, planning, urban design, and architectural practices. More importantly, we will discuss the effects of these projects in the future of Halifax and Dartmouth and try to answer the questions “who is going to live in all these new places anyway?”, “where does the money come from?” and “what should we expect as our urban centres continue to grow?”

The Hydrostone

Meet: Agricola@ young, by the brewery
AT:Sat 2:30
Lead By:Jenny Lugar

The Hydrostone was planned and built following the near total destruction of the North End of the peninsula due to the Halifax Explosion in 1917. Its original purpose was to provide affordable housing to families in the working class who had been displaced by the Explosion. Since then, the demographic of the neighbourhood has changed significantly, and the Hydrostone has won awards from the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) as one of the “Great Places in Canada”. This walking tour will explore the original plan for the Hydrostone and why the neighbourhood has won national awards, while also exploring the theme of gentrification and housing affordability on the Peninsula by looking at the change in demographics and housing trends since the 1950s.


Storm Porches

corner of Queen and Morris Streets and ends on Tower Road.
AT:Sun 9:00AM
Lead By:Stephen Archibald

Storm porches are a charming feature on many nineteenth century houses in the Old South End. They provide weather protection in our cold winters and add a distinctive rhythm to our streetscapes. If you’ve never stopped to notice them, you’re in for a treat.

Sawmill River

AT:Sun 11:30am
Lead By:Sam Ausitn

Ferry Tales; a cross-harbour journey

Catch 1pm Ferry
AT:Sun 12:50
Lead By:David Jones

Weary from too many amazing Jane’s Walks? Come ride the ferry and explore our beautiful harbour with historian and archaeologist David Jones. Don’t worry, we’ll still walk a bit…

Transit Through the Ages: examining the past, present, and future of transit in downtown Halifax.

MEET:Victoria Park at the Robbie Burns statue
AT:Sun 2:00
Lead By:Ben Wedge

Stitching Gottingen and Downtown Back Together.

MEET:7 Bays
AT:Sun 3:30
Lead By:Tristan Cleaveland

Gottingen is once again experiencing a heyday. The downtown should also soon experience a boon as large new construction projects finish. That it currently feels dehumanizing to walk between them will hamper the success of both. It is time we undo the mistakes of the past and make it fun and enticing to walk from Gottingen to Downtown and vice versa. We will discuss changes the city could make, both small and big, to ensure you don’t feel like you’ve entered a no-man’s land just to walk from one part of downtown to another.
Lead By:TJ Maguire Sun 3:30

North Park Armoury to be Repaired

On Januray 10th, the Feds Announced a new Armoury will be constructed at willow park. As part of the announcement, they informed that work would be done on the North Park Armoury. You can read about the history of the Armoury at

the release stated:

“Rehabilitation of the North Park Armoury will begin in the coming months, and will ensure this National Historic Site and classified Heritage Building continues to support the Army Reserve in Halifax. It will house The Princess Louise Fusiliers and The Halifax Rifles (Royal Canadian Armoured Corps), as well as two army cadet corps. The upcoming phase of the project will involve reconstruction of the west wall.”

Today, the feds released an advanced procurement notice, basically telling vendors there will be a tender coming allowing them additional time to prepare. Below is the scope of work from the notice.

Description of the Project

The work is for Phase 2 of the heritage rehabilitation of exterior walls of the North Park Armoury, which includes selective replacement of exterior stonework of the north, east and south walls, as well as remaining part of the west wall. The North Park Armoury is a federally designated “Classified” heritage building and part of a National Historic Site.

Description of the Services 

The North Park Armoury rehabilitation project Phase 2 includes design services for the following Scope of Work:
• Rehabilitation of exterior walls, which includes selective replacement of exterior stonework of the north, east and south walls as well as remaining part of the west wall. Construction documents for rehabilitation of the central part of the west wall have been completed during Phase 1;
• Structural roof reinforcement and replacement of the roof shingles;
• Ground level concrete slab and other concrete walls repairs excluding perimeter foundation wall;
• Heritage conservation of windows;
• Rehabilitation of integral building systems (e.g. electrical, mechanical, fire safety, communications);
• Functional interior fit-up and renovations to meet the operational requirements.
• Abatement of hazardous materials;
• Force Protection upgrades;
• Seismic study and design provisions;
• Accessibility design upgrades;
• Design upgrades to comply with the current Building Code where appropriate considering the Heritage aspect of the building.
The estimated construction cost is in the order of $50,000,000.00.

AGBANS Are Now The Organizers of Jane’s Walk Halifax.

janes-walk-430x430With the Election of Sam Austin to Regional Council, AGBANS has offered and agreed to take over organization of this annual event. the 2017 walks will be taking place the weekend of May 6/7 2017. We will have more details closer to the event.

Jane’s Walk is a movement of free, citizen-led walking tours inspired by Jane Jacobs. The walks get people to tell stories about their communities, explore their cities, and connect with neighbours.



A Historic Opportunity in Downtown Halifax

Province seeks input on redevelopment of the Dennis and Hansard Buildings, architectural cornerstones of the Province House district
The Affected site and Buildings. NSgov Photo
The Affected site and Buildings. NSGOV Photo

The provincial government is asking interested developers to bring forward proposals for a potentially exciting, history-making development project in downtown Halifax—the redevelopment of Granville Street’s Dennis Building and Hansard Building (also known as the Acadian Recorder Building), and the vacant land surrounding them.

Incredibly, despite its long history and architectural achievement, the Dennis Building has never been recognized as a heritage property, and has been allowed to fall into disrepair. In 2014, it was placed on Heritage Canada’s top-ten endangered buildings list. Today, the interior has been entirely gutted, and only the building shell remains. That’s unfortunate, but it presents a unique redevelopment opportunity—to create a 21st-century building interior within the shell of one of Halifax’s grandest 19th-century structures.

The site encompasses the parking lot and hole along Barrington Street (NSGOV Photo)
The site encompasses the parking lot and hole along Barrington Street (NSGOV Photo)

The province will require that both building façades be retained. But AGBANS believes simple façadism is insufficient in this case, as both buildings could be essentially demolished and their façades used as little more than decoration for the exterior of a new building. Also a concern is that the RFP only calls for the preservation of the Dennis Building’s four-storey granite façade, potentially leading to the loss of the three brick upper storeys.

This would be a tremendously unfortunate outcome for the architectural integrity of the Province House district, one of the most historically and architecturally important urban areas in Canada. This is the kind of area where we see governments across North America, especially in historic cities such as Halifax, employ the greatest care with regard to heritage conservation. Nova Scotians deserve no less. AGBANS hopes the full profile and massing of both buildings will be retained, similar to the much-lauded Green Lantern redevelopment on Barrington Street.



The redevelopment site occupies 21,000 square feet, more than enough land to build significant brand-new structures on the vacant portions, while retaining in full the impressive street-facing profile of the Dennis and Hansard buildings. This can truly be a redevelopment that embodies the blend of old and new Halifax should be striving towards, and which respects one Canada’s most historically and architecturally rich urban areas.


The Dennis Building was constructed in 1863 to house a dry-goods firm owned by Thomas and Edward Kenny—the latter of whom served variously as Halifax’s mayor, a senator, member of the first federal cabinet, and Lieutenant Governor. The building was purchased by William Dennis, owner of the Halifax Herald, in 1900. After a 1912 fire destroyed everything but the granite façade, architect Henry David Jost added the three-storey brick addition to the top.

Given its architectural achievement and association with so many prominent Haligonians, AGBANS believes that the building should be a registered heritage property, and any redevelopment should treat it as such, renewing the building as fully as possible.

The Dennis Building after the 1912 fire.


AGBANS Applauds Green Lantern Building Changes


The Action Group for Better Architecture in Nova Scotia is pleased to congratulate Architecture 49, WSP Engage, and owners  Jason and Joseph Ghosn, on obtaining council approval for substantial changes to the Green Lantern Building on Barrington Street. As the building is a registered heritage property, in a heritage conservation district, final approval was required to be given by council.

Built in 1896 and designed by Architect William Whiteway in an elaborate Romanesque Revival style, the building was originally called the Keith Building, due to its associations with Donald and Alexander Keith, of the Gordon and Keith Furniture Company. (Its more recent nickname comes from the Green Lantern restaurant which was housed in the building between 1917 and the mid 1960s).

Damaged during Hurricane Juan, the building has been in a state of disrepair for years and is in need of substantial restoration. The upper floors have been vacant since 2005, and the lower floors since 2013. It had been threatened repeatedly with demolition by its previous owner before being sold to the Ghosns, who saw a greater opportunity in investing in one of Halifax’s most distinguished historical commercial buildings.



The original 1896 facade faces Barrington street, while the Granville Street side is not original and has been altered over the years. (A portion is concrete construction, suggesting it was built after 1929.) The approved changes include a restoration of the Barrington half of the building to its original appearance, using the original Whiteway drawings as a reference; the demolition and reconstruction of the Granville Street half of the building; and the addition of three storeys above. The additional height will be set back, to be minimally visible from Barrington Street. This project largely preserve both internal and external elements of the building, retains the additional street-facing appearance of the building, and improves the Granville Street facade. The preservation of the three storefronts at sidewalk level will ensure a lively streetscape, and maintain the historic character of Barrington Street.

This project proves that historic structures, even those in poor repair, can be profitably preserved, rehabilitated, and modernized to the benefit of developers and the city at large. AGBANS hopes that this development is successful, and that it will serve as a model to other developers in possession of historic buildings.

Historic Hotel to be Replaced with Bland Mixed-Use Box

Principal Developments Ltd and Paul Skerry Architects have announced plans to demolish the historic Elmwood Apartments at 5185-5189 South Street and replace it with a 6-storey mixed use development consisting of 42 residential units and 8,000 sq. ft of retail. Though not registered as a historic property, this building is one of the most architecturally significant within the city’s proposed Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District.

5189south_1 5189south_2
Existing Proposed

The existing structure was built as a house, and in 1896 converted to a hotel, and later apartments. The building is worn, and needs some cosmetic work, and comments from former tenants suggest upgrades to the buildings mechanical systems are also needed. As it is still inhabited by tenants, we believe it is safe and structurally sound.

The proposed replacement building is bland, and appears to be of low architectural quality. It possesses no features that tie it specifically to that site, and it would work equally well on any similar lot in the immediate neighbourhood, where many much more appropriate development sites exist. The developer’s website provided the above rendering which cuts off the street and appears in black and white. A prominent corner requires a signature structurethe Elmwood already is such a structure, unlike the proposed box.

AGBANS attempts to reach a balance of development and historic preservation. We are a pro-development group, supportive of quality developments that improve the city’s built environment. In this case, the opposite will result. Given the existing building’s location, and the significance of its form, we believe a substantial portion of the building must be retained, as the forthcoming Heritage Conservation District intends. We understand that an as-of-right demolition permit has been issued by the city for this property.

A Public Open House will be held on Wednesday, June 8th, 2016, between 7-9 p.m., at The Westin Nova Scotian (The Lunenburg Room), 1181 Hollis Street.

AGBANS urges Haligonians to write their councillor urging them to oppose this demolition. Comments can also be sent to the architects – Mr. Paul Skerry ( or Mr. Greg Johnston ( who are acting as representatives for the developer, or the developer directly at or via mail 7075 BAYERS ROAD SUITE 211 HALIFAX NS B3L 2C1

The Action Group for Better Architecture in Nova Scotia (AGBANS) was formed in May 2016 to advance the public purposes of architecture and planning. AGBANSs aims include preservation and advocacy. We want to see communities that are forward thinking, but respect our past. For more, see, on Twitter @theAGBANS, or