Strategic plan to guide future of historic Africville Park
The chair of the board for the Africville Heritage Trust hopes a new, strategic plan will guide the organization's future, and its efforts to preserve the history of the Black community that was displaced and demolished by the City of Halifax in the 1960s.
The trust was established in 2010, following a settlement and an apology from the municipality. A replica of the community church was also constructed overlooking the Bedford Basin.
Percy Paris, a former Nova Scotia cabinet minister who now chairs the trust's board, said the apology and settlement only takes things so far.
"We don't have a sustainability plan, we don't have continuing funding coming from our own resources or any outside resources," he said in an interview.
"So eventually, whatever money that was received 10 years ago is going to run out. It's going to dry up and what's going to happen then?"
Paris said the aim of the new plan is to answer that question, along with producing a business plan and a path to sustainability.
On Friday, the province announced it is spending $150,000 to support the plan, which is expected to be developed by September.
A key priority for Paris is the establishment of an interpretive centre on the Africville land. Although there are artifacts and information inside the replica church, Paris said something more is required.
"Something where we can truly have items on display that represent Africville's past, present and future, and we don't have the space for that right now."
The trust continues to push for making the site more accessible through public transit connections and the development of sidewalks along the road leading to the church and Africville Park.
Designs have been assembled for how that could look, but the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the ability to have consultations.
Megan Backos, the planner working on the project for Halifax Regional Municipality, said the work would now become part of the Africville vision process. That process is intended to look to the future and could consider things such as reparations and future development potential.
One development the trust continues to pursue is the future of infilled space created near Africville Park.
The Halifax Port Authority has proposal a land swap with the municipality, that would see HRM then transfer title for some or all of the new land to the Africville Heritage Trust.
A spokesperson for the municipality said a potential land exchange continues to be explored.
Paris said several options for how the land could be used have been discussed, but an overall goal of the trust is to make the Africville site a gathering place, beyond the annual reunion it hosts for former residents and descendants.
There is growing interest in the history and story of Africville in Nova Scotia and from people in other countries as they learn about it, said Paris. It's important for the future of the site that it be able to grow in a way to foster and develop that interest, he said.
"Africville, at one time, was a gathering spot and I think it can be that again."
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
MORE TOP STORIES