Halifax to consider reparations to African Nova Scotians | News | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
Conceptual drawing for what New Roots land trust would do with a block on the Cogswell development

Halifax to consider reparations to African Nova Scotians

HRM has a functioning strategic plan

On Thursday, May 16, Halifax’s Community Planning and Economic Development committee met to hear two presentations and an update on Halifax’s municipal playing field strategy.

The first presentation was from New Roots, an African Nova Scotian land trust in Halifax’s North End. In his presentation to council, Treno Morton, New Roots’ community engagement coordinator, reminded the committee about Halifax’s strategy of urban renewal. He told the committee that the man in charge of Halifax’s urban renewal circa 1957, Gordon Stephenson, identified the homes and businesses of African Nova Scotians for razing because the buildings were dirty, decaying, or rubbish. “Our properties were always adequate enough to be seized from us and developed upon,” Morton wryly remarked during his presentation.

click to enlarge Halifax to consider reparations to African Nova Scotians
New Roots
The black dots on the left are properties identified as dirty, decaying or rubbish that could be razed for the Cogswell exchange in the 1950s. The purple dots on the right are the same dots overlayed on the modern plan for the Cogswell redevelopment.

When the city of Halifax was planning for the Cogswell Exchange, it used Stephenson’s map of properties that could be demolished quite easily due to the structural racism in the HRM’s city planning in the 1950s and ’60s. This move displaced many African Nova Scotians from their homes and businesses. But now that Cogswell is being torn up again, there is an opportunity for the city to correct some of that historic racism by giving a block of the new Cogswell Redevelopment Project to the New Roots land trust.

The non-profit New Roots land trust wants to use the block of Cogswell as a bulwark to prevent the continued displacement of the African Nova Scotian communities from Halifax’s North End. Their vision for the block is high-density housing, including affordable housing, community spaces and commercial space for African Nova Scotian businesses.

click to enlarge Halifax to consider reparations to African Nova Scotians
New Roots
Conceptual drawing for what New Roots land trust would do with a block on the Cogswell development

Right now, the group needs about a million dollars for preliminary design and planning work and is looking for governmental assistance from the city or the province. Councillor Lindell Smith put forward a motion asking for planning staff to take this presentation and write a report for council to see how the city might be able to help.

The committee also got an update on the HRM’s new municipal playing field strategy. Last April, when council first implemented this plan, most councillors had some questions about their local fields. They were reassured by Chief Administrative Officer Cathie O’Toole this strategic plan is designed to address all of their concerns. So far, when it comes to the city’s ball diamonds, this strategic plan appears to be working. In responding to questions from councillors, city staff explained how the city is going to use scheduling to increase its sporting capacity with existing assets in the short term.

This new plan also proactively plans for predictable future challenges. For example, the city’s sports fields are facing a huge increase in demand and use, especially at younger ages. When young kids first start playing sports outside, almost any field will do, but they’ll need better fields as they age. Under six sports programs don’t need lines or nets, but teenage sports do. Thanks to this strategic plan, staff are starting to figure out solutions to an upcoming problem proactively. Not to alarm anyone, but at long last the city appears to have figured out how strategic plans are supposed to work.

Finally, the Spryfield Lions want to keep control of their community room in the Spryfield rink. They are concerned because the rink will soon need to be replaced, and new HRM policies say they can’t keep the room when that happens. Thanks to a motion from councillor Smith (on behalf of chair Patty Cuttell, who couldn’t make the motion from the chair), this, too, will get a report to see if the Lions can keep their den.

Matt Stickland

Matt spent 10 years in the Navy where he deployed to Libya with HMCS Charlottetown and then became a submariner until ‘retiring’ in 2018. In 2019 he completed his Bachelor of Journalism from the University of King’s College. Matt is an almost award winning opinion writer.
Comments (0)
Add a Comment