Lucasville residents worry boundary changes won't reflect original community

Residents of Lucasville say proposed changes to increase the boundary size of their historic black community don't go far enough.

'We do not want to become another Beechville with nothing but a church and graveyard," says Iris Drummond

Iris Drummond chairs the Lucasville Community Association. She said residents don't want Lucasville to end up like Beechville, another historic black community that lost land to development. (Contributed by Iris Drummond)

Residents of Lucasville are fighting to change where their community lies on the municipal map. They're opposed to boundary changes that have blurred the lines between Lucasville and Hammonds Plains.

"My biggest concern is they're taking away our identity. It's a black community and they're taking away, the part of our community that they're taking away from us, they're saying it's Hammonds Plains and it's not," said 69-year-old Pearly Oliver. 

He said one municipal map shows that a trailer park next to land his grandfather owned in Lucasville is now considered by the city to be part of Hammonds Plains.

"The issue is the land was taken away; it's getting smaller," said Iris Drummond, chair of the Lucasville Community Association. Her husband, Ernest Drummond, is also a descendant of the community's earliest black settlers.

"We do not want to become another Beechville with nothing but a church and graveyard standing there."

Beechville is another black community on the outskirts of Halifax that has lost much of its land to development.

Halifax's municipal government is asking for feedback on boundary lines drawn between Lucasville and Hammonds Plains.  

Affected residents have until March 6 to give input on the current map and two new versions, which will help determine the boundaries. 

'Rush job' boundaries

Coun. Lisa Blackburn, who represents Lucasville, was expected to hold an information meeting with residents to review the maps Wednesday night.

She said the purpose of the meeting would be to consider how the historical significance of Lucasville will help shape the final boundary.

The current Lucasville map shows boundaries that were drawn up in 1996 during amalgamation. (Halifax Regional Municipality)

In an interview, Blackburn said the current boundaries were drawn in "a rush job" during amalgamation in 1996 when 911 services were centralized. 

"They did it without formal consultation with the residents in each community," she said.

"So this is now just going back to right those wrongs; to make sure that the boundaries that are drawn are historically accurate as possible."

Clearing up confusion

Lucasville Road goes from Hammonds Plains Road to Sackville Drive, but that entire stretch is not Lucasville, Blackburn said.

"Some of it is the community of Hammonds Plains, some of it is even the community of Middle Sackville," she said. "So it's a question of historically how is this community actually plotted on the map?"

In a Jan. 17 letter sent to residents, the municipality's civic addressing co-ordinator said updating the boundaries would make things easier to understand. 

"According to our records, there has been some confusion regarding your mailing address community name (Lucasville or Hammonds Plains)," wrote Gayle MacLean. "This project will clear up any confusion."

Residents want the old Lucasville

Some long-time community residents argue the map from 1996 is not accurate because it does not go far enough up Lucasville Road. 

This is one of two proposed Lucasville maps the municipality has sent to residents that shows new boundary lines. (Halifax Regional Municipality)

Oliver said the boundaries incorrectly place the Lucasville trailer park in Hammonds Plains. 

"I just want Lucasville to be where it originally was," he said. "They're taking part of Lucasville and saying it's Hammonds Plains."

Residents are relying on historical records and maps from Fultz House Museum that date back to the early 1800s when the Black Refugees from the United States first settled the area after the War of 1812.

Residents say the second proposed Lucasville map is still missing land that belongs to the community. (Halifax Regional Municipality)

Recommendations going to council

Once it receives community feedback on the boundary changes, municipal staff will write a recommendation to Halifax regional council, which approves all community names and boundaries.

Residents will receive a letter confirming their community name and new welcome signs will be installed once the boundaries are approved.

About the Author

Sherri Borden Colley

Reporter

Sherri Borden Colley has been a reporter for more than 20 years. Many of the stories she writes are about social justice, race and culture, human rights and the courts.