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Bloomfield developer evaluates building after fighting original order

The former Bloomfield School in Halifax, N.S., is seen on Nov. 25, 2023. (Galen McRae/CBC - image credit)
The former Bloomfield School in Halifax, N.S., is seen on Nov. 25, 2023. (Galen McRae/CBC - image credit)

After weeks of delays that resulted from an appeal, the Halifax developer behind the vacant Bloomfield site has complied with a direct order from the city to conduct a structural assessment of the building.

In October, the former Bloomfield School site, now owned by developer Alex Halef of BANC Investments Ltd., was described as an "immediate safety risk" in an inspection by Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency's Dustin Garnett.

Garnett wrote that, in the past, there have been fires set in the building from people experiencing homelessness trying to stay warm. He was concerned obstructed entry points meant fire crews wouldn't be able to get in to help if a fire spread.

Garnett also documented several structural concerns with the building, including collapsed ceilings.

Garnett ordered Halef to carry out a structural integrity assessment on the building, but the developer appealed that decision to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB).

In November, Halef and city lawyers said they'd reached an agreement, but provided no details.

On Monday, just days before a hearing on the issue, a municipal lawyer sent a letter to the UARB stating that BANC has fulfilled the order to take action, and the appeal has been withdrawn.

Halifax spokesperson Laura Wright said in an email Monday that BANC has submitted the structural integrity report to the municipality.

Councillors and the public have called for development to get going on the site, but Halef said last May that he couldn't afford to demolish the building and did not have firm plans yet.

A condition of the sale is that construction must begin before January 2026.

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