KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Call it rural gentrification. Lucasville, an African Nova Scotian community near Lower Sackville with a proud 200-year history is slowly being erased.
A nuisance horse farm that makes neighbours’ life miserable, a busy road without sidewalks, no public transit, the list of grievances of Lucasville residents is long. Many residents believe racism is part and parcel of why their complaints are not being heard.
But this time at least we have some good news to report. It appears that the stubborn issue of shrinking community boundaries will finally be addressed.
At the time of HRM amalgamation, driven by a civic addressing initiative and without any community involvement, City bureaucrats mapped the Lucasville community boundaries.
As far as long time residents were concerned, these new community boundaries didn’t make any sense. Their beloved Lucasville was shrunk by half, and notably excluded a large trailer park on the Lucasville Road that is currently considered to be part of Hammonds Plains.
Community meetings were held, residents thought they were being heard, but nothing much happened for many years. To add insult to injury, a new variation on the original map, still excluding the trailer park, made a mysterious appearance.
Last night, with a new councillor for the area in Lisa Blackburn, yet another community meeting was held at the Wallace Lucas Community Centre. It was a full house.
While 183 out of 200 communities in HRM by now have their boundaries finalized, Lucasville boundaries are still up in the air, Blackburn told the people at the meeting.
“The long time residents of this community are asking for their history, they are reclaiming their history, just so that we can finally get our community signs installed,” said Iris Drummond, chair of the Lucasville Community Association.
History was on the side of the residents. At the meeting Elmer Grove, local historian and director of the Fultz House museum in Lower Sackville, spoke about his research relative to the Lucasville boundaries.
Grove reported that historic deeds and grants confirm what local residents have known all along. Historic Lucasville includes the trailer park, and is a lot larger in size than HRM’s original civic addressing map suggests.
But some worries remained.
Affected residents are asked to let the city know which boundary configuration they prefer, which will be reflected in staff’s recommendation to Council. And Black long-time residents are outnumbered by the people who live in the trailer court.
Changing your address is a bit of a nuisance, and dare I say it, some residents may prefer not to have an address that includes a Black community. What if the original Lucasville residents are simply overwhelmed by responses that go counter to their wishes?
“The people here, who live in the great community of Lucasville, you know we will be outvoted. This is a proud Black community. It is not fair one bit if it comes down to a vote,” said one resident.
“We don’t need any more consultation, just do the right thing,” said another resident.
Blackburn, and Lower Sackville councillor Steve Craig who also attended, did their best to reassure the community.
“This is about righting a historical wrong,” said Blackburn, suggesting that she was getting the message that came from the community loud and clear. “I want to take this passion back to staff, because this is so much more powerful than an email or a letter.”
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