Nova Scotia

Africville dispute may be settled

Halifax and the federal government may soon settle a decades-old dispute with former residents of Africville, a black community destroyed in the 1960s, displacing hundreds of people.

The City of Halifax and the federal government may soon settle a decades-old dispute with the former residents of Africville.

Africville was a black community at the northern tip of the Halifax peninsula which was ordered destroyed in the 1960s. Hundreds of families were evicted and relocated.

The area, now Seaview Park, is a national historic site, but former residents and their descendants have been demanding compensation and redevelopment.

"The offer that's come forward from HRM [Halifax Regional Municipality] is more than what the society put on the table," said Irvine Carvery, president of the Africville Genealogy Society.

"They have met our request and even exceeded it and we are very, very pleased with the offer coming from HRM and we're looking forward to moving ahead with the rebuilding of our church and the building of our interpretive centre in Africville," said Carvery, who was born in Africville and was 13 years old when it was bulldozed.

"It'll mean that the people of Africville, future generations, and Nova Scotians, Canadians, everyone will be able to go to the actual site of our community to learn about our rich history and culture and traditions on a site right in Africville. It will mean a living legacy for future generations."

Ottawa supports deal

Carvery declined to divulge details about the deal, accepted by the society Saturday during a closed meeting at a Halifax library. But a report Sunday in the Halifax Chronicle Herald says it includes a $3-million payout and about one hectare of municipal land.

Halifax municipal council, which has dealt with the matter behind closed doors, is scheduled to vote on the package in an open session Tuesday.

The federal government will support the tentative deal, said Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

He announced $250,000 to support the creation of an Africville Heritage Trust during a news conference Sunday in Halifax.

"The government of Canada is committed to investing in projects like this that protect and promote diversity in Nova Scotia," said MacKay. "The trust will enhance the community's ability to properly commemorate the spirit of Africville and celebrate its history."

The funding, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency's innovative communities fund, will be used to plan the memorial project. Consultants will be hired prior to the building stage, under the shared direction of the Africville Genealogy Society and the Black Business Initiative, MacKay said. The consultants will help ensure the success of the memorial site and support the development of an African-Nova Scotian tourism sector, he said.

The City of Halifax expropriated Africville between 1964 and 1969 in a series of ambitious renewal projects. The small, close-knit community, which had existed for about 150 years, was levelled to make way for a bridge over the Halifax harbour.