Halifax councillor says reaction to proposed Lucasville boundary change alleges reverse racism

Halifax councillor ‘disappointed’ with tone of feedback on Lucasville boundary changes proposal
Halifax's Lucasville community has an official boundary, and the process to change it drew emails with a tone that the area's councillor said left her “disappointed.” Steve Silva reports.

A councillor said she felt “somewhat depressed” earlier this month because of negative feedback on proposed official boundaries for the Halifax community of Lucasville.

District 12 Councillor Lisa Blackburn spoke with reporters on Dec. 12 about the emails shortly after Halifax Regional Council approved the boundaries at Halifax City Hall. She said some residents expressed concern that their property values would decrease as a result of the name change.

“You know, it did take me by surprise. I thought we were better than this. I really did,” she said. “Many called it reverse racism, that we were making this decision to make the black community happy.”

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Actually, Blackburn added, the boundaries were based on maps dating back to the 1800s, among other documents.

READ MORE: Halifax councillors expected to choose Lucasville community boundary in December

Residents of Lucasville had been working for years to get the municipal government to erect signs, as other communities have, that identify their community.

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No signs could be put up until the boundaries were official, according to the municipality.

WATCH: A staff report heading to Halifax Regional Council will help determine the boundary of the community of Lucasville 

Lucasville residents await boundary confirmation, signs
Lucasville residents await boundary confirmation, signs

The municipality has been working since 2002 to determine the official boundaries of all its 200 communities.

Among other work, municipal staff consulted residents before coming up with the report (PDF) and recommendations.

Part of Lucasville’s official boundaries stretches into what others believed was the community of Hammonds Plains.

“A lot of them seemed to imply that their home values would plummet as a result of this community name change,” Blackburn said of the emails.

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“It sounds like a little racism to me,” Debra Lucas, secretary of the Lucasville Community Association, said on Saturday regarding the emails.

She said her family’s roots in the community date back several generations, and the boundaries mark a victory for the community.

“As far as I’m concerned, property values are not going to devalue. Mine keeps going up,” Lucas said, noting that she worked for a property assessment organization for decades before retiring.

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The signs, according to a municipal government spokesperson in November, can be put up when the weather warms up.

Iris Drummond, the association’s chair, said the signs would help residents feel like their community exists.

“It’s about the future generations to have pride. I know that the elders in the past generations have fought for this community and have lost because of being told where their place is,” she said.

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Lucas said she thinks Blackburn should let people know who sent those emails. Regardless, “it’s onward and upward for us.”