(a) Heritage Registration
Halifax's Kenny/Dennis building, built in 1863-64, is one of the half-dozen surviving heritage buildings which complement and uplift Province House. It anchors the remaining heritage position which exists along the northern section of the Granville block. This alone makes its retention of great importance. However, its direct lineage through the Kenny and the Dennis families, and the importance of the architects who worked on it, make it of high provincial significance.
On 28 February, 2018, we filed a third-party application for municipal heritage registration. On 11 June, 2018, we filed a parallel third-party application for provincial heritage registration. These applications were supported with our Heritage Assessment Report on the building.
On 26 September, 2018, the Halifax Heritage Advisory Committee met to consider the application for municipal heritage registration. The HAC Briefing Papers about the application included a staff report and a letter from the Province opposing the application. The Institute responded to the Province's letter with a formal statement to the Heritage Advisory Committee, which became part of the HAC Briefing Papers. At the meeting, the Heritage Advisory Committee discussed and arrived at an assessment of the heritage value of the property using established criteria and weighting. The Kenny/Dennis building was finally awarded 77 points out of a possible 100 points, well above the necessary 50 points, leading the Committee to recommend approval of the registration to Regional Council. An initial hurdle was passed for the building to be recognized as a significant part of the historical fabric of Halifax.
On 27 November, 2018, Halifax Regional Council unanimously approved a resolution to add the Kenny/Dennis building as a protected property to the municipal heritage registry.
(b) Political Precinct
The Kenny/Dennis building is at the corner of George and Granville streets in the central district of Halifax. The Acadian Recorder building, farther south on Granville Street and all of that vacant land between and behind the two buildings, extending from Granville to Barrington Street, is something we refer to as the "Kenny/Dennis Site". The site is situated strategically, on one side opposite Province House where Joe Howe helped win responsible government in 1848, and on the other, opposite City Hall, the Grand Parade and St. Paul’s where the civic institutions of the capital city took root. Joe Howe also fought successfully for freedom of the press in the 1830s, paving the way for the rise of independent journalism. It was fitting that the Kenny building was acquired by William Dennis at the end of the nineteenth century as headquarters for the province’s leading newspaper. It is, therefore, a site of high significance and, given its location, a site of transformative potential.
This site, and the history embedded in other buildings around Province House, leads us to call for the creation of a Capital City District. The Capital City District is, naturally, the heart of the government apparatus, the centre of bureaucratic functions and rule-making, but it is more than that. It is, more importantly, the site where civil society expresses its needs, articulates its values and vision, and demands its rights. It is centrally a political space, where ideas jostle against one another and compromises are eked out. The administration of government, in short, is a ‘downstream’ function – distinct, derivative, and secondary. It is the higher political purpose of civil society – “a making common of” – which is fundamental to the Capital City District and constitutes the imperative for development in that precinct.
This position is articulated in a brief which we presented to Leo Glavine, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, on 15 May, 2019.