The Society

Africville deal details in report

Compensation revelations in previously private document
Chronicle Herald - MICHAEL LIGHTSTONE City Hall Reporter
Feb 26, 2010

Behind-the-scenes revelations about the Africville compensation agreement are contained in a previously private Halifax city hall report [PDF - From].

It includes a chronology of deal-making events leading to the multimillion-dollar pact between the Africville Genealogy Society and Halifax Regional Municipality, and previously unreported financial information.

» Click here for the city's collection of Africville archives

For instance, a planned replica of Seaview United Baptist Church and an interpretive centre are projected to operate under a deficit during the first five years of their existence, the report said.

It also indicated there was a long gap between a society-launched lawsuit seeking redress and a concerted effort by governments to address the group’s appeal for reparations.

This week’s settlement put to bed the contentious issue of compensation for the historic black community, razed in the 1960s. Several opponents of the package — people with ties to Africville — have said the deal isn’t legal and have vowed to go to court over its ratification.

The agreement includes a $3-million payout from the municipality, $1.5 million from the provincial government and $250,000 from Ottawa.

It also gives a little more than a hectare of land in what’s now Seaview Park to the society for future development. The park is to be renamed Africville. No personal compensation will be dispensed.

Mayor Peter Kelly issued a formal apology Wednesday at a Halifax news conference.

The city’s Africville redress report was confidential but has been declassified. Municipal staff provided a copy to The Chronicle Herald late Thursday afternoon.

Among other things, it says:

•Ottawa approved its $250,000 contribution, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, four months ago.

•The society filed an action against the city in 1996. In 2005, a committee with representatives from the three levels of government and the Africville group was formed to help put together "a fitting memorial for the former community."

•An education trust fund for descendants of Africville’s residents was approved by Halifax city council in 1994. That fund is not part of the terms and conditions of the settlement.

•The society in the fall proposed the memorial project be built in two phases. The first would focus on construction of the church "on the site where it once stood," followed by the building of the interpretive centre.

•Capital costs of the memorial project, "based on the recommended architectural, site and interpretive concept," are estimated at more than $4.3 million.

"Preliminary estimates indicated the need for a $3-million trust fund to ensure operation stability," said the report, presented to regional council at a closed session Tuesday.

Staff recommended the report be released upon the politicians’ ratification of the compensation package in open council and after the public announcement Wednesday. The deal was approved Tuesday night.

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