A Halifax park will soon be renamed in honour of Raymond Taavel, nearly seven years after the prominent gay rights activist’s death.
The small park, located on Barrington Street in the south end, will bear a sign that includes a write-up about Taavel’s contributions to the LGBTQ community in the city.
Taavel, 49, was beaten to death outside Menz Bar on Gottingen Street on April 17, 2012, when he tried to break up an early-morning fight between two men.
A group that has been working on public art to honour Taavel confirmed the project has the go-ahead and posted a rendering on Facebook that shows what the park may look like in 2019. They say they are meeting with the municipality to start work on beautification ideas “and hope the park will become a beautiful reminder of a beautiful person.”
“We wanted someplace in the city that people who knew him could go and remember him,” said Adriana Afford, a friend of Taavel’s and member of the group.
“A place where people could talk, someplace where people can gather.”
They say they’re considering new benches, plants, lighting and art projects to transform the area.
WATCH: Friends of murdered Halifax activist Raymond Taavel started a campaign in 2015 to create a public work of art to commemorate his life. Rebecca Lau reports.
While the timeline for the project is not set in stone, the group does hope to have the park ready in time for July.
“We’re aiming for July because that’s the month that pride week happens and we’d like to be able to celebrate the park at that time,” Afford said.
Andre Denny later pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with Taavel’s death and was sentenced to seven and a half years in custody. Denny, who was 33 years old at the time of Taavel’s death, had been reported missing from the East Coast Forensic Hospital after failing to return from an unescorted hour-long leave the night before.
He has since served his full sentence, but remains at the East Coast Forensic Hospital because he was found not criminally responsible. He has slowly been receiving more privileges, including day passes that allow him to leave the facility.
In the years since his death, Taavel has posthumously received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and has been honoured with memorials and commemorative plaques.