August 30, 2014 12:30 pm

A community left in the dark when it comes to NCC’s future

MONTREAL – The walls of the Negro Community Centre (NCC) have been crumbling since the spring, but Montreal’s black community is in shambles as word circulates that efforts to save the NCC may have been in vain.

“It’s been sold,” said Michael Farkas, the director of Youth in Motion.

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READ MORE: The NCC in Little Burgundy gets a new owner

Yet, the saga isn’t over for the centre, which has been a staple of Little Burgundy for almost a century.

Community leaders are demanding to know what will happen next.

“Many people do not know what has been going on,” said Keeton Clarke, a concerned citizen.

“The board has been silent. That means there are a lot of outstanding questions.”

Community leader Michael Farkas says the board of the NCC may have rushed to file for bankruptcy too soon back in April.

Nevertheless, upkeep expenses were crippling – the overhead cost more than $30,000 a month.

WATCH: A lost bid to restore aging community centre

The role of the city, one of the NCC’s creditor’s, is also in question.

“It’s another piece of Montreal heritage that might not be salvaged, and might just be torn down without any consultation,” said Farkas.

READ MORE: A rally to save a piece of Montreal’s history

The company in charge of the sale, Price Waterhouse Coopers, wouldn’t confirm whether or not someone purchased the site – rumoured at a price of $300,000.

Yet, Craig Sauve, a city councillor told Global News that citizens should not worry.

Sauve says if a demolition occurs, or if the site is turned into condos, it will all to go to a public hearing first.

“It’s zoned ‘educational-institutional,'” he explained.

“And that’s just for that lot right there. Of course for zoning there’s a process. There’s zoning that has to be built, consultations to go through, votes.”

WATCH: Rally to save the NCC

The historic site was founded almost 100 years ago in an old church.

It was the center of community life in Little Burgundy.

READ MORE: As Little Burgundy changes, a piece of its history crumbles

So much so that Nelson Mandela visited the site after his release, but the building was abandoned in the mid-nineties and began a slow, but steady decline.

“In fact I would say to the new owner that they have now the legal obligation to secure the wall, and the moral obligation to restore the building,” said Sauve.

“It’s not just any building, it’s the NCC.”

WATCH: NCC on verge of bankruptcy

Some worry that the site will become condominiums that would represent gentrification more than community pride.

“This is the symbol of the black community in Montreal,” said Farkas.

Yet, it’s a symbol that now looks like it could face the wrecking ball.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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