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Halifax Defence Complex Management Plan, 2020.
Note to readers
The health and safety of visitors, employees and all Canadians are of the utmost importance. Parks Canada is following the advice and guidance of public health experts to limit the spread of COVID-19 while allowing Canadians to experience Canada’s natural and cultural heritage.
Parks Canada acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic may have unforeseeable impacts on the Halifax Citadel, Georges Island, Fort McNab, Prince of Wales Tower and York Redoubt National Historic Sites of Canada Management Plan. Parks Canada will inform Indigenous partners, stakeholders and the public of any such impacts through its annual implementation update on the implementation of this plan.
For more information about the management plan or about Halifax Citadel, Georges Island, Fort McNab, Prince of Wales Tower, or York Redoubt National Historic Sites of Canada:
Location:c/o Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
PO Box 9080, Station A
Halifax, NS B3K 5M7
Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas belong to all Canadians and offer truly Canadian experiences.
These special places make up one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and cultural heritage areas in the world.
The Government is committed to preserving our natural and cultural heritage, expanding the system of protected places and contributing to the recovery of species-at-risk. At the same time, we must continue to offer new and innovative visitor and outreach programs and activities so that more Canadians can experience Parks Canada places and learn about our environment, history and culture.
This new management plan for the national historic sites of the Halifax Defence Complex supports this vision.
Management plans are developed through extensive consultation and input from various people and organizations, including Indigenous peoples, local and regional residents, visitors and the dedicated team at Parks Canada.
National parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas are a priority for the Government of Canada. I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this plan for their commitment and spirit of co-operation.
As the Minister responsible for Parks Canada, I applaud this collaborative effort and I am pleased to approve the Halifax Defence Complex Management Plan.
Recommended by and original signed by
President & Chief Executive Officer Parks Canada
Senior Vice-President, Operations
Acting Field Unit Superintendent
Mainland Nova Scotia Field Unit Parks Canada
The Halifax Defence Complex consists of five national historic sites of Canada on or near the shores of Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia: Halifax Citadel, Georges Island, Fort McNab, Prince of Wales Tower and York Redoubt. In 1965, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recognized the importance of Halifax as one of four principal overseas naval stations of the British Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries, and that the Halifax Defence Complex represents a complete conspectus of shore defences from the 18th century to the Second World War.
The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site (NHS), the flagship site of the Halifax Defence Complex, is an important landmark in downtown Halifax. The site receives over 200 000 visitors annually within the fortifications and another 600 000 to the grounds, and is a popular destination for recreation and community events. Site partners, the Halifax Citadel Society and the Army Museum Halifax Citadel, have an integral role in telling stories about the sites and bringing them to life through period animation, interpretation and artifact displays. The Halifax Citadel NHS serves as the principal site for visitor experience opportunities for the Halifax Defence Complex generally. The other sites have great potential for more visitors and residents to connect with and discover through recreational use and community events. Georges Island NHS, in particular, is of great public interest, with its rich history, its importance for the Acadian people and its captivating allure for all who view it from the Halifax waterfront.
This management plan outlines an updated vision for the Halifax Defence Complex, and presents key strategies and objectives aimed at achieving the vision. As such, this management plan provides strategic guidance for the management of the Halifax Defence Complex, and provides accountability to Canadians for the sites’ management. Management plans are reviewed every ten years. This plan was developed in consultation with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, and with the input and participation of site partners, key stakeholders and the Canadian public.
Three key strategies have been developed to guide the management of the Halifax Defence Complex for the next ten years.
Key strategy 1: Connecting diverse audiences through broadened perspectives.
This strategy focuses on opportunities to help Canadians forge stronger connections to these sites. This can be achieved in part through broadening the perspectives of stories told at these places, including those of the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, on whose traditional territories these fortifications were first built, and of other groups and communities impacted by the establishment of British and Canadian control.
Key strategy 2: Evocative visitor experiences anchored by original cultural resources.
This second strategy outlines direction for protecting priority cultural resources of the sites, recognizing and celebrating that these original resources evoke history and a sense of place for visitors, and encouraging visitor experiences that remain responsive to changing market demands.
Key strategy 3: Valued as part of Halifax’s vibrant urban fabric.
This third strategy focuses on the role of the Halifax Defence Complex as integral elements in the urban fabric of Halifax. The sites add to the city’s heritage character, providing recreational and community gathering places and serving as a key tourism draw, attracting visitors to the city and contributing to a strong and prosperous regional economy.
Parks Canada manages one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and historic places in the world. The Agency’s mandate is to protect and present these places for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. Future-oriented, strategic management of each national park, national marine conservation area, heritage canal and those national historic sites administered by Parks Canada supports the Agency’s vision:
Canada’s treasured natural and historic places will be a living legacy, connecting hearts and minds to a stronger, deeper understanding of the very essence of Canada.
The Parks Canada Agency Act requires Parks Canada to prepare a management plan for national historic sites administered by the Agency. This plan provides guidance for the management of five national historic sites that collectively make up the Halifax Defence Complex: Halifax Citadel, Georges Island, Fort McNab, Prince of Wales Tower and York Redoubt national historic sites. The Halifax Defence Complex Management Plan, once approved by the Minister responsible for Parks Canada and tabled in Parliament, ensures Parks Canada’s accountability to Canadians, outlining how historic site management will achieve measurable results in support of the Agency’s mandate.
Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, were involved in the preparation of the management plan, helping to shape the future direction of the national historic sites. The plan sets clear, strategic direction for the management and operation of the national historic sites of the Halifax Defence Complex by articulating a vision, key strategies and objectives. Parks Canada will report annually on progress toward achieving the plan objectives and will review the plan every ten years.
This plan is not an end in and of itself. Parks Canada will maintain an open dialogue on the implementation of the management plan, to ensure that it remains relevant and meaningful. The plan will serve as the focus for ongoing engagement on the management of the Halifax Defence Complex in years to come.
Map 1: Halifax Defence Complex local setting
Map 2: Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada
Map 3: York Redoubt National Historic Site of Canada
Map 4: Prince of Wales Tower National Historic Site of Canada
Map 5: Georges Island National Historic Site of Canada
Map 6: Fort McNab National Historic Site of Canada
2.0 Significance of the Halifax Defence Complex
In 1965, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recognized the importance of Halifax as one of four principal overseas naval stations of the British Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries and that the Halifax Defence System or Complex includes a complete conspectus of shore defences of the 18th century to the Second World War. The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada further recommended the commemoration of representative examples of a complete range of shore defences as national historic sites, specifically naming Georges Island and Fort McNab, along with the previously designated York Redoubt (1962), Prince of Wales Tower (1943) and the Halifax Citadel (1935). All five sites of the Halifax Defence Complex were transferred from the Department of National Defence to Parks Canada upon their decommissioning as sites of military importance, between 1936 and 1964.
3.0 Planning context
The sites of the Halifax Defence Complex are located in Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, on or near the shores of Halifax Harbour. Most of the sites of the Halifax Defence Complex are in or near downtown Halifax, and therefore are of strong interest to residents and stakeholders. Halifax has a growing downtown and suburban residential population, and all of the sites of the Complex form an integral part of the urban landscape. Georges Island NHS continues to present an untapped potential, and the Halifax Citadel NHS and York Redoubt NHS are well-visited not only as national historic sites, but also as places for recreation and relaxation. Of the five sites, only the Halifax Citadel NHS is fully operational, providing a full-service visitor experience.
The Halifax Citadel NHS, with its iconic Town Clock, is a significant attraction in the local and regional tourism offer. The site sees an average of 200 000 largely first-time visitorsFootnote1 each year within the fortification walls (and on the order of 600 000 people use the grassy hill, or glacis, surrounding the fortifications annually). Tourism visitation to the province, particularly cruise visitation, is increasing, and many of these visitors come to the Halifax Citadel NHS (e.g. approximately 9% of all cruise visitors to Halifax in 2018 visited the Halifax Citadel NHS). Serving as the flagship site for the Halifax Defence Complex, the Halifax Citadel NHS offers rich visitor experiences including a living history program, multi-media programs, exhibits and guided tours. Recent investments have addressed deferred maintenance at the site; cultural resources and built assets are in “Good” to “Fair” conditionFootnote2. Front-line visitor experience service, as well as retail and facility rental programs, are delivered by the Halifax Citadel Society. This non-profit partner society has a mandate to support Parks Canada at the Halifax Citadel NHS, and celebrated its 25th year of operation in 2018. The non-profit Army Museum Halifax Citadel (Army Museum), operating since 1953 and co-located on site, presents Atlantic Canada’s military history to site visitors. In recent years, about $24 million has been invested to improve the condition of heritage and non-heritage assets at the site. These investments include rehabilitation of the Town Clock ($1.8 million), replacement of the Cavalier Building roof ($1 million), work on the south and north front masonry walls ($17 million), the signal mast installation ($1 million), road resurfacing and fencing ($2.4 million), and Garrison Grounds drainage ($480 000). In the near term, anticipated investments at the Halifax Citadel will include a significant new anchor exhibit, Fortress Halifax: A City Shaped by Conflict.
The rest of the Complex sites (the “outlying sites”) offer a self-guided service offer, and investment in cultural resource protection (ranging from “Good” to “Poor” condition) has been strategic. York Redoubt NHS receives on the order of 25 000 visitors during the summer, and an estimated additional 50 000 the rest of the year. The other three sites do not have an active visitor experience offer. The grounds of Prince of Wales Tower NHS (located within the municipal Point Pleasant Park) and Fort McNab NHS (an enclave within the as yet undeveloped McNabs and Lawlor Islands Provincial Park) are available for self-directed exploration. Georges Island NHS has been open for special events in recent years, and public interest in the site is very strong. Since 2015, strategic investments to protect priority cultural resources at these sites include Prince of Wales Tower roof replacement ($210 000) and York Shore Battery ($415 000). In the near term, investments are anticipated to include $1.6 million over two years to develop Georges Island.
The Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia have a strong interest in the national parks and national historic sites in Nova Scotia, given that they are within Mi’kma’ki, the traditional homeland of the Mi’kmaq people. These places help protect and present Mi’kmaw culture and heritage. The “Made-in-Nova Scotia” Rights Reconciliation Agreement process is ongoing; this process contemplates an increased role for Mi’kmaq in the management of these and other heritage places in Nova Scotia. Under an Interim Arrangement, the Parks Canada-Mi’kmaq Mainland Nova Scotia Advisory Committee provides guidance for the management of the Halifax Defence Complex and other parks and sites in Mainland Nova Scotia.
Climate change, with anticipated increased storm events, rising sea level and coastal erosion, has the potential to significantly impact the heritage fabric of national historic sites, as well as facilities and assets that support visitor experience and operations. Fortunately, the robust masonry construction of the Halifax Defence Complex allows these resources to withstand many of these impacts, although sites at the water’s edge, particularly Georges Island NHS, and to some extent Fort McNab and York Redoubt NHSs, are susceptible to coastal erosion and sea-level rise.
4.0 Development of this management plan
A broad range of Canadians, including site partners the Halifax Citadel Society and the Army Museum, the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse, and stakeholders from the tourism industry, municipal and provincial departments and heritage organizations, were involved in the preparation of the management plan, helping to shape the future direction of the Halifax Defence Complex. An online platform was the principal engagement approach. The website “Let’s Talk Parks Canada Halifax!” was visited by nearly 3000 people and over 300 shared their thoughts on the future of the Halifax Defence Complex during Phase 1 consultation. Also during this phase, a multi-stakeholder workshop, site staff and youth engagement sessions, and bilateral meetings with specific stakeholders, were held in Halifax. Phase 2 consultation on the draft plan further informed its development, including more than 40 people sharing their thoughts about the draft plan on the website and bilateral meetings with key stakeholders. The Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia were engaged at all stages of the preparation of this management plan, and formal consultation on the plan was coordinated through Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office on behalf of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs to ensure that the plan reflects the interests of Mi’kmaq in relation to these sites.
The following outlines a 15- to 20-year vision for the Halifax Defence Complex that pertains to all five national historic sites, unless otherwise indicated:
The Halifax Citadel is the flagship site for exploration and discovery of the stories of the Halifax Defence Complex. It is an iconic tourism attraction for the Province of Nova Scotia and Halifax Regional Municipality, known for bringing history to life through innovative programming and considered a “must-do” experience. It continues to contribute to the economic growth and vitality of the community.
Priority cultural resources, which are tangible evidence of the sites’ national historic significance and serve as the foundation for visitors to connect with and experience the past, are protected and in good condition.
Georges Island is an integral part of a vibrant Halifax waterfront experience; the island is accessible to the public and provides opportunities to experience its cultural heritage, including discovering the significant role that the site played in the Deportation of Acadians, as well as its military importance to the end of the Second World War.
Parks Canada is committed to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and is working collaboratively with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia on the implementation of their rights at these and other sites. These sites are welcoming places and provide opportunities for the Mi’kmaq to tell their stories and share their culture, heritage and traditions to reflect the Mi’kmaw world view.
The stories told at the Halifax Defence Complex continue to reflect the sites’ military past, while including diverse perspectives on their history and how that diversity shaped modern day Halifax, encouraging visitors to better relate to the sites. Stories and experience opportunities reflect the peoples who were affected by these places, including the Mi’kmaq, African Nova Scotians, Acadians, European immigrants, women, and other groups.
Residents of Halifax and newcomers, including youth and cultural communities, feel a connection to and pride in these sites. These national historic sites enhance the character of Halifax and are valued as an essential part of the urban fabric both as heritage places and recreational green spaces.
Key partnerships provide essential support to Parks Canada in fulfilling its mandate to protect and present the Halifax Defence Complex sites, so that they are embraced and appreciated as sites integral to the community.
6.0 Key strategies
Three key strategies frame the management direction for the Halifax Defence Complex for the next 10 years. The strategies, and corresponding objectives and targets, focus on achieving the vision through an integrated approach to management of the national historic sites. Targets outline a timeframe for achieving an objective; where no date has been referenced, the objective will be achieved within the period of the plan based on opportunities, annual priorities and capacity of Parks Canada. Progress made in achieving these strategies and objectives will be reported annually to the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, partners including the Halifax Citadel Society and the Army Museum, the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse, other stakeholders, and the general public.
Key strategy 1:
Connecting diverse audiences through broadened perspectives.
Parks Canada seeks to foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of heritage places. Dynamic, engaging experiences of interest to Canadians and international visitors convey the importance of the Halifax Defence Complex sites as representative examples of historic shore defences and as British and Canadian military sites. Further sharing of diverse perspectives about these places and events will inspire new audiences to connect with the sites. The stories of cultural communities such as the Mi’kmaq, Acadians, Jamaican Maroons, European immigrants and others, as they relate to the Halifax Defence Complex, will be developed in collaboration with those communities; stories of less-represented groups, such as those relating to women, children and individual soldiers, will also be shared. An expanded timeframe for interpretation and special events are possible means to accommodate broader stories and perspectives.
It will be evident to all visitors upon arrival at the sites that they are in Mi’kma’ki. In the spirit of reconciliation, Parks Canada will work in partnership with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia to share Mi’kmaw perspectives and stories, and facilitate opportunities for sharing Mi’kmaw culture and history. At the Halifax Defence Complex, there are opportunities for the Mi’kmaq to share their culture and heritage with Canadians and international visitors, to increase connections and understanding about the land’s history and the lasting impact and legacy that British and Canadian control has had on the Mi’kmaq. Such opportunities will have the potential for capacity building and economic benefits for the Mi’kmaq.
More visitors value, appreciate and feel a sense of connection to the Halifax Defence Complex.
Increase from 67% the percentage of surveyed respondents who feel the sites have meaning for them in the next State of Site Assessment.
Increase the number of visitors who are aware that component sites of the Halifax Defence Complex are part of the Complex as a whole, by the next State of Site Assessment.
Diverse perspectives on the history of the Halifax Defence Complex are shared.
Increase the proportion of interpretive programs and products offered at the Halifax Defence Complex that convey stories about cultural communities, women and children, and the everyday life of soldiers and officers and their families, as they relate to the Halifax Defence Complex, matched to target audiences for best success, from the 2019 offer.
Over the life of this management plan, mechanisms for collaboration between Parks Canada and cultural communities, including the Acadian community through the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse and the African Nova Scotian community, and other stakeholders are established for the development of new interpretive products and programs that relate to these communities.
Parks Canada and the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia will continue to build a strong relationship based on mutual trust.
Increased integration of Mi’kmaw stories, perspectives and language in interpretive programs and products related to the Halifax Defence Complex sites from the 2019 service offer.
Significant participation by Mi’kmaq in the integration of Mi’kmaw stories and the development of new interpretive and outreach products and programs related to the Halifax Defence Complex sites from 2019 onward.
Key strategy 2:
Evocative visitor experiences anchored by original cultural resources.
Parks Canada has the mandate to both protect and present Canada’s heritage, and to ensure the commemorative integrityFootnote3 of historic sites. Visitor experiences at the Halifax Defence Complex are anchored by the original cultural resources of the sites, which evoke strong feelings and a sense of place. Entering the original fortifications, feeling the stonework of the walls and experiencing narrow doorways and steep stairways, gives visitors a deeper understanding of and connection to the sites, and of the soldiers and others (e.g. wives, children) who built the forts, and who lived and worked there. At the sites where there is an active visitor experience offer, the cultural resources form an integral part of the experience, contributing to visitors valuing these places and to their desire to return.
Parks Canada protects cultural resources at the Halifax Defence Complex, maintaining these sites for future generations to experience and enjoy. At the Halifax Citadel, all priority cultural resources will be maintained in “Good” condition. At the outlying sites, high priority cultural resources and assets will be maintained, to ensure public safety and to contribute to their appeal as places for self-guided experiences and for special events and community functions.
While maintaining the integrity of the sites through protection of key cultural resources, Parks Canada will aim to respond to the needs and interests of visitors, including striving to make them more inclusive and accessible to visitors. Parks Canada will continue to work in partnership with others to increase the barrier-free accessibility of the sites, as much as can be accommodated by the historic fabric of the site. As well, Parks Canada will continue to be more responsive to evolving markets, including in the use of new technologies for orientation, interpretation and information.
The condition of priority cultural resourcesFootnote4 at the Halifax Defence Complex improves.
Condition ratings for priority cultural resources of the Halifax Defence Complex that are in “Poor” or “Fair” condition improve in the next State of Site Assessment.
At the Halifax Citadel NHS, the condition of priority cultural resources (e.g. original masonry walls) improves to “Good” condition in the next State of Site Assessment.
The Halifax Defence Complex provides evocative historical experiences that promote a strong sense of place.
Maintain or increase the overall satisfaction rating of 95% for the Halifax Citadel NHS in the next State of Site Assessment.
Maintain or increase from 94% the number of people who felt they learned something about the cultural heritage of the Halifax Citadel NHS in the next State of Site Assessment.
Visitor experiences offered at the Halifax Defence Complex respond to evolving target markets.
Maintain or increase from 95% the overall satisfaction rating by visitors of the Halifax Citadel NHS in the next State of Site Assessment.
Increase the number of participants in programs from the 2019 baseline by 10% by 2025 and 15% by 2030.
Increase the number of special events or alternative uses of the sites held at the Halifax Defence Complex from the 2019 baseline by 10% by 2025 and 15% by 2030.
Key strategy 3:
Valued as part of Halifax’s vibrant urban fabric.
The Halifax Defence Complex sites are integral to the very fabric and essence of Halifax. Their architecture and aesthetic contribute to the distinctive heritage character of Halifax and they serve as reminders of the city’s rich military history; they contribute to the great appeal of the city to visitors. Viewplanes from the Halifax Citadel NHS toward Halifax Harbour continue to be protected through municipal by-laws. The sites play an integral role in the local and regional tourism industry and the built heritage sector. In particular, the Halifax Citadel NHS and its Town Clock are iconic attractions, well-recognized and well-loved symbols of Halifax and Nova Scotia.
Strategic relationships, with other levels of government and provincial and regional tourism organizations, are key to mutual success. Parks Canada will continue to work closely with tourism partners on initiatives such as integration with the local destination marketing organizations, product development that meets the needs and interests of target markets, and focussed promotions which present opportunities to reach a broader market in the local tourism environment and increase site visitation.
As well as protecting important aspects of British and Canadian history, the Halifax Defence Complex sites also conserve substantial green spaces associated with them. In the past, Citadel Hill and the Garrison Grounds have been valued and well used as green and recreational spaces, serving as venues for royal visits and concerts, for example. Today, these areas are used by residents and visitors alike for relaxation and recreation, as well as for formal and informal public events and celebrations. Urban green spaces are increasingly important as places for people to simply get outside and into nature, particularly in urban centres such as downtown Halifax. These areas have great potential as venues for a range of uses, including recreation, community events (e.g. Canada Day) and the arts (e.g. Nocturne; interpretive light and sound displays). Parks Canada will actively work with partners to facilitate and encourage creative and innovative use of the sites for visitors’ and residents’ enjoyment. In addition to the well-attended Canada Day and Victorian Christmas celebrations and citizenship ceremonies, hosted by Parks Canada with partners at the Halifax Citadel NHS, more events and occasions led by third-parties at the sites will increase awareness, appreciation and sense of connection of target audiences to the sites.
The Halifax Defence Complex sites are embraced and appreciated as venues for recreation, events and community celebrations.
Increase the number of people attending events held at the Halifax Defence Complex over the next 5 years.
Strategic relationships increase public awareness and support for the Parks Canada program at the Halifax Defence Complex sites.
Increase the number of strategic relationships between Parks Canada and other parties with an interest in the Halifax Defence Complex over the next 5 years.
Increase the number of events held, arising from these relationships, over the next 5 years.
The Halifax Defence Complex sites continue to play a key role in regional economic generation and tourism promotion.
Increase from 37% to 40% by the next State of Site Assessment the number of surveyed visitors who cite that visiting the Halifax Citadel NHS was important in their trip planning.
Maintain or increase the percentage of all visitors to Nova Scotia who indicated that they visited the Halifax Citadel NHS from 11.7% in 2017 (source: Tourism Nova Scotia).
Maintain or increase the proportion of cruise visitors to Halifax who visit the Halifax Defence Complex from 9% in 2018.
7.0 Management areas
Management direction in this section outlines specific objectives for each of the five sites of the Halifax Defence Complex.
Management Area 1: Halifax Citadel NHS
The Halifax Citadel NHS is the flagship site of the Halifax Defence Complex, receiving by far the highest proportion of visitors of all the sites of the Complex, both in the interior of the fortifications and on the grounds. This 22.6-hectare (55-acre) site overlooking downtown Halifax is well recognized for the Town Clock, for its extensive glacis, or grassy slopes, as well as its fortifications. The cultural resources at the Halifax Citadel NHS are generally in “Good” condition, although more work is needed on the south ravelin and the south counterscarp. Viewplanes from the Halifax Citadel NHS toward Halifax Harbour continue to be protected through municipal by-laws.
As the Halifax Citadel NHS is the flagship site, a strategic management decision was taken to focus visitor experience investments at this national historic site for the interpretation of all the sites of the Complex. The Halifax Citadel NHS has a vibrant living history program, personal interpretive offer, other fee-for-service programs (delivered largely by the site partner, the Halifax Citadel Society), and exhibits, including a principal exhibit slated to open in spring 2020.
While visitation at the Halifax Citadel NHS is significant, it represents only a fraction of the approximately 3 million annual visitors to the Halifax waterfront. Collaboration with tourism partners, integration with the local destination marketing organizations, product development which meets the needs and interests of target markets and focussed promotions present opportunities to reach a broader market in the local tourism environment and increase site visitation and site revenues significantly.
Maintain an increasing trend in visitation to the Halifax Citadel NHS.
Maintain or increase the proportion of visitors to Nova Scotia who also visit the Halifax Citadel NHS.
In partnership with others, increase the use of the grounds of the Halifax Citadel NHS for community events and celebrations.
Parks Canada, the Halifax Citadel Society and the Army Museum continue to work together in a coordinated fashion toward shared objectives for the Halifax Citadel NHS.
Investments in programs and infrastructure that support the visitor experience at the Halifax Citadel NHS are maintained or increased.
Management area 2: Georges Island NHS
Georges Island NHS is a 7.4-hectare (18-acre) island, located in Halifax Harbour and readily viewed from the downtown Halifax waterfront. The site is notable for Fort Charlotte and a series of underground tunnels, as well as for spectacular views of the harbour and downtown Halifax and Dartmouth. Georges Island is of historical and cultural significance to the Acadian community, having been a detention site for Acadians awaiting deportation during the Grand Dérangement. A pilot project is in the planning and development stages to explore increased access opportunities for Georges Island. Georges Island has great potential to become an integral part of a vibrant Halifax waterfront experience, as has been explored through the provincial Harbour Islands Visitor Experience Strategy. Future increased access to and development of Georges Island NHS will require strong partnerships and collaboration. Parks Canada will continue to work with the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse to ensure the cultural significance of the island to the Acadians is appropriately conveyed. Future development should take into consideration the potential impacts of climate change, especially on coastal erosion, and to species at risk.
Strategic relationships facilitate opportunities for increased access to Georges Island NHS.
Pilot operations are successful and result in an ongoing program offer on Georges Island NHS.
The visitor experience offer for Georges Island NHS is developed through collaborative relationships, particularly with the Acadian community through the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse.
Management area 3: York Redoubt NHS
York Redoubt NHS is an extensive property (75 hectares or 185 acres) located about 10 kilometres from downtown Halifax off Purcells Cove Road. While an historic site, York Redoubt NHS is probably better known locally and regionally as a site for recreation, particularly by dog walkers. Interpretive panels provide visitors with information about the historic significance of the site and the Complex. Greater community use of York Redoubt NHS for events and celebrations would increase public awareness and understanding of the heritage values of the site, as well as instill a greater sense of stewardship and connection to the site.
Opportunities are explored to increase the local stewardship and community involvement at York Redoubt NHS to support Parks Canada’s mandate at the site.
Awareness and appreciation of York Redoubt NHS grows through its increased use as a venue for recreation, community events and gatherings.
Management area 4: Prince of Wales Tower NHS
Prince of Wales Tower NHS is a 0.78-hectare (about one acre) site within the 75-hectare (185-acre) municipal Point Pleasant Park, located at the southern tip of the Halifax Peninsula. While there are several other remains of historic shore defences within the park, Prince of Wales Tower NHS is the only one designated as a national historic site. The interior of the Prince of Wales Tower NHS has been closed to the public for the past several years, and there is some public interest in it being reopened. The site is periodically opened for special events, and the grounds, with existing exterior interpretive panels, are suitable for informal or organized alternative uses.
The cultural resources and architectural presence of Prince of Wales Tower NHS are protected so the site remains an integral feature of Point Pleasant Park.
Opportunities to open Prince of Wales Tower NHS to visitors on a financially sustainable basis will be explored.
Management area 5: Fort McNab NHS
Fort McNab NHS is a 12-hectare (31-acre) enclave within the as yet undeveloped McNabs and Lawlor Islands Provincial Park. The site is open and available for self-guided exploration by visitors, and there is potential for self-guided interpretation, such as a map or mobile app, to be developed. Priority cultural resources of the site will continue to be conserved. The site supports a regionally-important colony of nesting Barn Swallows, a species at risk; Parks Canada will continue to meet its obligations toward this species at risk. The Friends of McNabs Island Society has been dedicated to the preservation of McNabs and Lawlor Islands since 1990, and has a great interest in the future of Fort McNab NHS.
The cultural resources of Fort McNab NHS continue to provide a compelling heritage feature for visitors to McNabs and Lawlor Islands Provincial Park.
Collaborative opportunities to support visitor experience at Fort McNab NHS are explored with the Friends of McNabs Island Society.
Continued collaboration between Parks Canada, Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry, and Develop Nova Scotia ensures that Fort McNab NHS supports the objectives of McNabs and Lawlor Islands Provincial Park and the provincial Halifax Harbour Islands Visitor Experience Strategy.
8.0 Summary of the strategic environmental assessment
Parks Canada is responsible for assessing and mitigating the impacts of management actions on ecosystems and on cultural resources. The Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (2010) prepared by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, requires a strategic environmental assessment of all plans and policies submitted to the federal Cabinet or to a Minister for approval and deemed to have important positive or negative environmental effects.
A strategic environmental assessment was undertaken on this management plan, and the management direction found within has been adjusted to respond to findings. The following is a summary of the environmental assessment:
The purpose of the strategic environmental assessment is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally-sound decision making. Individual projects undertaken to implement management statement objectives at the site will be evaluated separately to determine if an impact assessment is required under the Impact Assessment Act.
The scope of the assessment included the area within the boundary of the Halifax Defence Complex, which consists of five national historic sites on the shores of Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia: Halifax Citadel, Georges Island, Fort McNab, Prince of Wales Tower, and York Redoubt. The timeframe considered was ten years from the date of the plan, at which time the plan will be reviewed. In addition to cultural resources, and visitor experience, environmental components of note at this site include migratory birds and species at risk.
Many positive residual effects will occur as a result of the implementation of the plan, for example: building upon relationships with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia; protecting priority cultural resources; and improving engagement, awareness and appreciation for the site among residents and tourists. Increased visitation to areas such as Georges Island also provides an opportunity to educate visitors about species at risk thereby expanding the visitor experience and supporting the Parks Canada mandate.
Actions identified in the management plan that could potentially result in negative environmental effects are related to increased visitation and expansion of the visitor offer to Georges Island. Increased visitation could impact the integrity of cultural resources over time at all sites and increased impacts to migratory birds and species at risk could result from vandalism, increased maintenance requirements and/or addition of infrastructure to facilitate new visitor experiences. However, these effects can be minimized by following existing guidelines, including the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada; conducting project-level impact assessments and applying species at risk mitigations as appropriate; continuing species at risk monitoring programs, including adding Barn Swallows at Georges Island to the existing monitoring program; including species at risk education and outreach into visitor programming and signage; and complying with the requirements of the Species at Risk Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act and Parks Canada policy and guidance.
Public and Indigenous engagement was conducted on the plan in January-March 2019. Public concerns raised were incorporated into the plan as appropriate.
The plan supports the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy of Connecting Canadians with Nature. There are no important negative environmental effects anticipated from implementation of the management plan.