New land created near Africville Park likely destined for community use

A sliver of rocky land that has been described as an “eyesore” may be turned into a park.

New land that has been created by infilling part of the Bedford Basin near the Fairview Cove Container Terminal likely will be designated for community use when the project is complete.

Commuters and other travellers on the MacKay Bridge or the Bedford Highway may have noticed dumptrucks depositing material into the water over the past several years, and a growing infilled area stretching from the container terminal toward Africville Park.

The Halifax Port Authority, which operates the terminal and is responsible for the infilling project, is working with the Halifax Regional Municipality’s African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office and the Africville Heritage Trust to determine a future use for the land.

“The intention is that we might do something that’s community-based,” said Lane Farguson, the port authority’s spokesperson. “We don’t have the final plan in place yet, but that’s really the intention.”

Asked how the land could be used, Farguson said, “a park is certainly one of those ideas, and maybe some sort of a boardwalk as well, but until the final plans are in place and everybody’s agreed to it, we really can’t say a whole lot more.”

A spokesperson for the HRM would only say the municipality is collaborating on the future use of the area, “complementary to historic Africville and Africville Park.”

Juanita Peters, the executive director of the Africville Museum, declined to comment on the project until plans were firmed up.

Tourboat docking a possible use

During a natural resources and economic development committee meeting last October, Halifax-Needham MLA Lisa Roberts questioned Capt. Allan Gray, the port authority’s president and CEO, about the infilling work. She said her constituents had called it an “eyesore.”

Gray said the Africville Heritage Trust, which operates the Africville Museum directly across from the infilled land, was initially concerned about the view from Africville Park being blocked, but the organization later became comfortable working with the port authority on the project.

The Halifax Port Authority, Halifax Regional Municipality’s African Nova Scotian Integration Office and the Africville Heritage Trust are working to determine future use for the new land. (Halifax Port Authority)

“The Africville Heritage Trust wants to use the bay-like area for some purposes,” he told the committee. “They’ve talked about getting tour boats to be able to access there, so we’re making sure any design work and infill work is compatible with those uses.”

Infilling project still underway

The infilled land is currently owned by the port authority, a federal Crown corporation. Farguson said while the corporation is generally not allowed to sell land, it is permitted to do land swaps, land transfers or long-term leases.

The infilling project, called the Fairview Cove Sequestration Facility, began in 2012.

The fill is largely pyritic slate that has been removed from construction sites on the peninsula. The port authority is paid for accepting the material, but Farguson declined to say how much.

The infilling project in the Bedford Basin can be seen clearly from the Africville Museum. (Google Street View)

As of the end of November 2020, about 6.3 hectares had been infilled, or an area about one-third the size of Citadel Hill. Some of that is being used for port operations.

On the above and below maps, the purple area has already been infilled, and the yellow area is still in the process of being filled in. The green area would be a treed area to provide a buffer zone between the port activities and the rest of the new land.

 

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