It’s an old and contentious debate for HRM politicians, developers and civic-minded Haligonians.

But despite strong opinions held on either side, nearly half of HRM residents feel a proper balance has been struck between heritage preservation and development.

Thirty per cent of respondents in the CityThink survey feel too much emphasis is placed on heritage preservation in HRM. Another 22 per cent feel too little attention is being paid to preserving the centuries-old buildings in the city.

But the poll, conducted by Bristol Omnifacts Research for Metro Halifax and the Greater Halifax Partnership, found 44 per cent feel the balance between the two is about right.

Craig Wight, senior vice-president of research at Bristol Omnifacts, said the relatively even split makes it difficult to make clear statements about the issue. But Wight said it also suggests a middle-of-the-road approach.

“It argues for a middle ground ... and also suggests that whatever I decide to do as a council, I’m going to have a lot of opposition,” said Wight.

“And I think we’ve probably seen that over a number of years, where development got a group out saying, ‘No, I don’t want this, we’ve got to protect heritage,’ and another group saying, ‘No, we’ve protected enough heritage, we need to develop.’”

The issue of heritage preservation has come to the fore in the debates over the proposed trade centre building in downtown Halifax. Proponents for the development say it will be a boon for the downtown core, stimulating a rejuvenation of the area and adding increased tax revenues to city coffers.

But a vocal group of detractors argue the complex will block the sight lines from Citadel Hill, taking away from the enjoyment of residents and tourists alike.

Phil Pacey, Halifax representative for the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, said he thinks the numbers reflect that council is doing a reasonably good job at balancing the interests of both sides.

“To a large extent, they are,” he said. “There are a lot of things they’re doing very well.”

CityThink sampled 500 residents of HRM last month, and the survey carries a margin of error of 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

CityThink lineup
• Friday: Development
• Monday: Transit
• Tuesday: Municipal politics

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