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Periodic Report on the Application of the
World Heritage Convention

Section II

Report on the State of Conservation of
Old Town Lunenburg


1a State Party
1b Name of World Heritage Site
Old Town Lunenburg
1c Geographic Coordinates
Latitude 44°37'47,6" N / Longitude 64°30'59,1"W
1d Date of inscription
1e Date of subsequent extension(s)
Not applicable
1f Organization(s) responsible for the preparation of report
Organization Name: Town of Lunenburg
Name: ,
Address: PO Box 129, 119 Cumberland Street
City: Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Postal Code: B0J 2C0
Telephone: 902-634-4410
Fax Number: 902-634-4416
1g Date of submittal of report
1h Signature(s) on behalf of State Party


2a Original justification for inscription
The original nomination stated that the Old Town District of Lunenburg is an extremely well-preserved example of 18th-century British colonization and settlement patterns in North America and an excellent example of a sustained vernacular architectural tradition spanning more than 240 years. The model town plan, building forms and fabric and its cultural evolution based on the pursuance of the shipbuilding and fishing industries illustrate successive stages in the human history of North America.

2b Criteria for initial inscription
Cultural Criteria:
Natural Criteria:

2c Agreed upon Statement of Significance
At the time of inscription, the World Heritage Committee did not agree upon a Statement of Significance.
Proposed Statement of Significance
The Committee inscribed Old Town Lunenburg on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria C(iv) and C(v).

Old Town Lunenburg, Nova Scotia is an eminent and extremely well-preserved example of 18th-century British colonization and settlement patterns in North America and an excellent example of sustained vernacular architectural tradition spanning more than 240 years. In its clearly legible model town plan, its building forms and fabric, and its cultural evolution based on the pursuance of the shipbuilding and fishing industries, this architectural ensemble illustrates successive stages in the human history of North America.

The site has universal value as an architectural illustration of successive stages in the human history of North America (iv), and as an example of a culture based on the offshore Atlantic fishery, which is undergoing irreversible change (v). It is also an example of a community and way of life that has been based on the offshore Atlantic fishery, and is now evolving into a form that cannot yet be fully defined.

(Note: The Statement of Significance proposed here reflects the definitions and numbering of the criteria at the time the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List. Changes in the definitions and numbering of the criteria since that time will need to be taken into account when officially submitting a Statement of Significance to the World Heritage Committee for approval.)

2d Criteria added after initial inscription
Since the initial inscription, the World Heritage Committee has not added additional criteria to the inscription.


3a Initial evaluation of authenticity/integrity

The nomination document gave an overview of significant points regarding Lunenburg's level of authenticity. The Lunenburg plan (1753) incorporated all the principles of the model town: geometrically regular streets and blocks; the allocation of public spaces; an allowance for fortifications; and a distinction between urban and non-urban areas. Of these all but the fortifications survive in present-day Lunenburg. The town is also home to the oldest continuous worshipping Lutheran and Presbyterian congregations in Canada, both having been founded in 1753. Economically, Lunenburg was, and remains, an important centre for shipbuilding and related industries. It is one of the very few communities in North America where traditional shipbuilding skills are still to be found.

The architectural stock of Old Town Lunenburg is remarkably homogenous and cohesive. Over 95 per cent of the buildings are built in wood, many of them using the ‘coulisse' construction technique that is uncommon in North America. Although its architecture styles span almost the entire period of formal British settlement in Atlantic Canada, there is a compatibility of scale, siting, cladding, and an architectural vocabulary including Scottish dormers and the ‘Lunenburg bump', an indigenous five-sided dormer.

In its evaluation of the nomination, the Advisory Body observed that the innate level of authenticity is high on every count, which related to the conservatism of the inhabitants of the Town with respect to their houses, and takes into account the care being taken to restore historic houses to their original states. The setting and layout of the Town itself have changed minimally since 1753, only the defences have been demolished. Wood remains overwhelming the principal construction material and traditional techniques have been maintained when restoration has been carried out on earlier buildings.

3b Significant changes in authenticity/integrity
Since inscription, there have been significant changes in the authenticity/integrity of the site.
Description of changes in authenticity/integrity
The changes to visual authenticity and integrity have been incremental, minor and positive. Many individual structures have been renovated. In so doing, the life of the structures has been greatly extended due to improvements in foundations, wiring and cladding. The Town Council and citizens, when developing the regulation for protection had not envisioned the extent to which new owners would invest in their properties. Although regulation is in place for changes to the exteriors, some changes are permitted that perhaps should not be: an encouragement of dormers on buildings which have never had dormers, for example.

The Heritage Conservation District Plan (HCDP) and By-law are enabled by the Heritage Act for the Province of Nova Scotia. Problems with revision to the Plan and By-law have arisen and are likely to continue, as any changes are subject to overly stringent notification requirements. To clarify, the contents of the By-law were drafted with the assistance of the citizens of Old Town Lunenburg. The process to change the By-law requires individual notice to over 400 property owners, which is a lengthy and cumbersome undertaking.

A significant proportion of Old Town property has changed ownership due to sharp increases in property prices and taxes due to an increase in property assessments since designation. A brief review of numbers of sales before and after the designation showed an increase of approximately 300% in property sales.

This could have a long term negative effect on the authenticity of the site, as its legitimacy is strongly tied to the sense of community in Lunenburg, and strong, long term ties between contemporary Lunenburg residents and their history.

See Section 4 of this report for further details on the HCDP and By-Law.


Management Regime

4a Ownership/Management
Management under protective legislation
Description: Please see section 3b1 for further details.

4b Level of authority

Description: Management authority rests with the Town of Lunenburg. Please see section 4e for further details.

4c Legal status
Old Town Lunenburg is a nationally-designated historic site which is entirely privately owned by individual owners, with no plan for public acquisition of privately-owned property.
There is no federally-owned property in Old Town Lunenburg, and only one provincially-owned and operated Museum, the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic

4d Agency/agencies with management authority
Agency Name: Town of Lunenburg
Name: ,
Address: 119 Cumberland Street, P.O. Box 129
City: Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Postal Code: B0J 2C0
Telephone: 902-634-4410
Fax Number: 902-634-4416

4e Protective measures and means of implementing them
A variety of legislation is involved in the protection and management of the cultural and natural resources of Old Town Lunenburg. There are two key pieces of Provincial enabling legislation: the Municipal Government Act and the Heritage Property Act. The Municipal Government Act has enabled Council to adopt a Municipal Planning Strategy, Land Use By-law and Subdivision By-law, through which the location of uses, division of land and in identified areas, the appearance of structures, is regulated. The Heritage Property Act has enabled Council to adopt a Heritage By-law, through which a Heritage Advisory Committee was established, and which regulates the appearance of properties which were individually municipally designated prior to the adoption of the HCDP, By-law and Guidelines in 2000. The Heritage Property Act has also enabled the adoption of the HCDP, By-law and Guidelines, through which Council controls the demolition and appearance of all structures within Old Town Lunenburg; this acts as a separate layer of regulation on municipally designated properties in Old Town Lunenburg, and regulates municipally designated properties outside of Old Town Lunenburg.

4f Administrative and management arrangements
Management Authority rests with the Twon of Lunenburg. Authority is limited in regards to privately-owned property, and balancing the rights of individuals in a living community along with heritage protection for the future.

4g Significant changes in management regime since inscription
The HCDP, By-law and Guidelines were adopted in 2000 and significantly increase the protection of the site.

4h Management plan
There is a management plan in place for the site.
Summary of management plan
The World Heritage Community Strategy (R. Graham, 1998). The Graham Report's aim was to analyze the impact of World Heritage designation on the Town and residents; set a general policy for tourism management; and develop a strategy for managing the community as a World Heritage Site (WHS) over the next 10-15 years. The Report serves as a base for long-term heritage planning and goal setting for the community, including recommendations relating to the Heritage Conservation Plan and By-laws, and the need for infrastructure upgrades (harbour clean-up, public washrooms, etc.).

Financial Resources

4i Annual operating budget
There is no direct budget provided for the site. The only operating budget lies with the usual maintenance of infrastructure and municipally-owned lands contained within the Town's operating budget.

Staffing Levels (Human Resources)

4j Staffing levels
Full time: 0
Part time: 0
Seasonal: 0
Other: 0
There is no site staff other than those employed in management by the Town of Lunenburg. The Planning/Development/Heritage Co-Coordinator expends approximately 10 per cent of working hours in administering existing heritage controls in Old Town Lunenburg. No time whatsoever is spent on policy development, revision and review. No time is spent on research or classification and organization of existing materials.

Sources of expertise and training in conservation and management techniques

4k Sources of specialized expertise, training and services
Parks Canada assists in limited training, and the Heritage Property program of the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism and Culture provides advisory services.


4l Visitor statistics available
Visitor statistics are available for the site.
Annual visitation, methodology and trends
In 1995 38,480 visitors signed the guest book at the Visitor Information Centre; in 2003, 50,515 visitors signed. This is known to be only a portion of visitors to Lunenburg. The number of visitors is clearly increasing.

4m Visitor facilities
The only facilities available are the Visitor Information Centre, operated by the Board of Trade, which provides information regarding Lunenburg and the surrounding area from May to October each year. One public washroom was built near the waterfront in 2000.

4n Tourism/visitor management plan
There is a tourism/visitor management plan in place for the site.
Summary of tourism/visitor management plan
Please see section 4h1 for further details.

Scientific studies

4o Key scientific studies and research programs
Heritage Conservation Study: 1996-2000
Use of results of scientific studies and research programs
The Heritage Conservation Study directly resulted in the adoption of the HCDP, By-law and Guidelines by Council of the Town of Lunenburg in 2000.
Role of WHS designation in design of scientific studies and research programs
The Heritage Conservation Study was a result of the inscription on the World Heritage List in 1994. While the HCDP and By-law process was begun before the designation process, there has been a specific effort to focus on and to protect the recognized World Heritage values and the community. The Plan and By-law regulates the exterior appearance of structures.

Education, Information and Awareness Building

4p WHS plaque
There is a plaque at the site indicating that it is a World Heritage Site.

4q Use of WHC logo
The World Heritage Convention logo is used on all publications for the site.

4r Educational programs for schools
There are educational programs about the site's World Heritage values aimed at schools.
Description of educational programs for schools
A curriculum package dealing with Lunenburg's heritage was developed in 1990 for use in the elementary school. With material intended for different grades, it includes settlement, the fishery, food and culture and architecture. In addition, there is a grade 10 history course which has been developed as a result of the designation.

4s Special events and exhibitions
There are no special events and exhibitions concerning the site's World Heritage values.

4t Facilities, visitor centre, site museum, trails, guides, information materials
A Visitor Information Centre which conveys general information is open from May through October each year. In addition, there are a number of private initiatives such as walking tours and boat tours. There is considerable information available in the form of booklets, pamphlets and interpretive panels placed on sites and structures.

A Heritage Advisory Information Kit was prepared as a guide to appropriate preservation techniques for private owners. This is for the benefit of residents of the site, not visitors.

4u Role of WHS designation in education, information and awareness building activities
The World Heritage designation is now used in all materials developed by the Town for marketing Lunenburg. It is also used by many private operators such as bed and breakfast owners. The designation serves and is used as a constant reminder that Lunenburg is judged to have outstanding universal value.


5a Development Pressures
Ownership patterns are changing: an increasing number of buildings have been purchased by those who do not make Lunenburg their full-time home. This has negatively affected the sense of cultural continuity in Lunenburg that has helped make Old Town Lunenburg distinct. Many of these buildings contained two or three dwelling units prior to purchase and have been converted to single unit dwellings. As a result there is a significant loss of rental units available within older homes, and the number of homes vacant for much of the year is increasing. The price of housing has risen and continues to rise. Costs of renovation continue to rise due to the increasing demand for trained renovators. At the same time, many of those who have made Lunenburg their home for a number of years feel compelled to meet the higher standard of maintenance which has been encouraged by the national and UNESCO designation. The Town believes that a tax incentive from Revenue Canada for home owners would be of some assistance to offset these increasing maintenance costs.

Old Town Lunenburg is unique within Canada in that ownership is almost entirely private or municipal, with no Federal presence and little Provincial presence, which results in the pressures being borne by the local government. The Town believes that inclusion of a line item in the federal budget for privately-owned sites, including Old Town Lunenburg, is needed and would allow at least a stronger relationship to be developed with federal/Parks Canada staff.

5b Environmental Pressures
There is little change in environmental pressures. Increased traffic, especially busses, are fractionally contributing to increasing air pollution.

The volume of both car and pedestrian traffic during the summer months is creating an increased demand for a level of service not expected by Lunenburg residents: sidewalk and road repairs must meet a higher standard than in earlier days.

Prior to the construction of the sewage treatment plant this year, the number of tourists increased the pollution load on the harbour. The increase in visitors, due in part to World Heritage designation, is at least partially responsible for the Town receiving federal assistance towards the treatment plant.

5c Natural Disasters and Preparedness
No natural disasters present a foreseeable threat. In order to deal with any future threats, the Town has improved its ability to respond by increasing training with the Emergency Measures Organization of Nova Scotia, and the preparation of an Emergency Preparedness Plan. Some work was carried out by the federal government on an emergency plan which would be used as a precedent for other heritage areas; this plan has never been completed by the federal government.

5d Visitor/Tourism Pressures
Increased visitor traffic has had some impact on the infrastructure since designation. Some streets have been changed to one-way; a parking and traffic control study was carried out; the parking lot which serves the Community Centre, Arena and Curling Club was paved to provide spill-over parking when needed; a committee was established with the Board of Trade to consider parking issues.

The Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use By-law provide zoned areas which respect the traditional location of uses within the Town and protect areas for continuing marine development.

5e Number of inhabitants within property, buffer zone
An estimated 1000 people live within the designated area and the buffer area, and approximately 4000 people live, work and carry out business within the WHS. The life-style of those who live here full-time changes gradually, as in most urban areas, but remains a continuation of the traditional way of life. The number of people living in Old Town Lunenburg full-time is dropping, with an increasing number of dwellings being occupied on a seasonal basis. The effects of seasonal tourism have created frustrations for residents of the town, such as parking shortages, noise pollution, and increased costs of goods and services. Increasing property values are having a real and significant impact on the demographics of the community.
The Graham Report addresses the impact and management of tourism for Old Town Lunenburg. When resources allow, the relationship between residents and visitors should also be addressed.

5f Other


Administrative arrangements for monitoring property

6a Formal monitoring program
There is no formal monitoring program established for the site.

Key indicators for measuring state of conservation

6b Agreed upon key indicators
No key indicators for measuring the state of conservation of the site's World Heritage values have been agreed upon.
Future development of key indicators

Results of previous reporting exercises

6c State Party actions in response to World Heritage Committee recommendations


World Heritage Values

7a Main conclusions regarding the state of the property's World Heritage Values
The grid layout of the Old Town District remains intact and protected. The housing stock has an increased level of protection, but due to the increasing level of development pressure, the HCDP, By-law and Guidelines require re-examination and strengthening. The changes in the fishery and related cultural activity mentioned in the nomination are still ongoing, but have not been positive for the community and have led to immediate redevelopment pressures on the waterfront. The visual value is intact; the community values are not stable and are at serious risk.

Management and factors affecting site

7b Main conclusions regarding the management of and factors affecting the property
Old Town Lunenburg continues to manage the property with limited staff and resources. As site manager, the Town of Lunenburg requires assistance. All fulltime staff members involved with the site have other duties. In order to improve management, control tourism development and encourage community involvement, the Town believes that support from the federal government is necessary as heritage is a shared responsibility. Without intervention in the form of trained staff and budgetary resources, future management of the site will become increasingly difficult to maintain.

Proposed Future Action(s)

7c Approved future actions
There are a number of objectives the Town would like to pursue, notably increased heritage staffing, further training for existing staff, improved sidewalks, and provision of a much-needed second visitor washroom. The Town believes that these things are only possible if funding is made available from the provincial or federal government.

Future action for Lunenburg must include addressing the risks to the community that lives and works within and around the site. Before designation, this community was at risk in terms of economic decline and a shift in cultural values because of the large scale decline in the fisheries. It is currently a community at risk for reasons relating to a lack of heritage support, increasing changes in demographics and a heavy reliance on the tourism industry.
Canada signed the World Heritage Convention on July 23, 1976. Under Article 4 "each state party recognizes that the duty of ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage referred to in Articles 1 and 2 and situated on its territory, belongs primarily to that state."
There is also a defining comment on the matter of the maintenance of the site with great care to ensure the local authority understands the nature of the "Shared Responsibility" as it relates to WHS.
The Town believes that it has been and is the authority that has taken the lead under Article 4. And while the state party has contributed to a number of specific projects; i.e. heritage recording and harbour clean-up, the Town believes that the concept of ‘Shared Responsibility" has not been fully accepted or implemented by the Government of Canada.

Responsible Implementing Agency(ies)

7d Agency(ies) responsible for implementing actions
Agency Name: Town of Lunenburg
Name: manager, deputy town
Address: 119 Cumberland Street, PO Box 129
City: Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Postal Code: B0J 2C0
Telephone: 902-634-4410
Fax Number: 902-634-4416

Timeframe for Implementation

7e Timeline for implementation of actions
At present, future action and planning is contingent on funding and availability of Town staff. As management authority for the site, the Town would like to discuss future planning options with the appropriate Government of Canada representatives.

Needs for International Assistance

7f Anticipated Requests for International Assistance
It is not anticipated that International Assistance, through the World Heritage Fund, will be requested.

Actions State Party Intends to Request from World Heritage Committee

7g Potential Decisions for the World Heritage Committee
  • Proposed new Statement of Significance, where previously missing