The town of New Glasgow, N.S., has reversed its decision after initially recommending the development of a long-term care facility in a historically Black community.
Council voted unanimously to rescind its proposal for a 144-bed facility Monday night, following strong opposition from community members.
"We listened to the concerns of the Black community in particular and felt that it it wasn't reasonable to move forward with that location," said Mayor Nancy Dicks.
Coun. Russell Borden said if council didn't reverse its decision, he would have stepped down.
"I had my letter of resignation already typed," Borden said. "There was mishandling of this whole procedure."
Borden said he was disappointed to see people "undervalued and underserved."
More consultation needed, says councillor
He said a lack of consultation with community members was a problem, and the town must change its approach in the future.
The decision was welcomed by residents who campaigned against the plans.
"We're very proud of what we've done," said Brandy Borden-Sylla. "They were able to see and feel the effect that their decision was having on our community."
Residents organized march
Council initially chose a site on Brother Street as the preferred location for a new facility to replace Glen Haven Manor in December.
Residents organized a march to town hall earlier this month to tell council how the facility would have dramatically changed an area close to a recreation centre that is well used by families.
"We all gather there to celebrate, to dance, for sports. It would have changed everything to have a big, huge building just plunked right there," Borden-Sylla said.
Some community members said the plans for the development caused a lot of stress.
"I am not praising the town of New Glasgow for finally correcting their mistakes," said Wayne Desmond.
Resident calls for apology
He wants council to work at building a better relationship with the Black community.
"They should understand the harm that they've done," Desmond said. "I would like to see an apology and not just words written on paper."
Desmond suggests meetings between councillors and the community as a way to build trust.
Dicks said she agrees council has work to do.
"The lesson was loud and clear to us that we need to do a better job of communicating, consulting and understanding the historical aspects of that community in particular," Dicks said, adding she is open to meeting people.
The search for a new location
Council will now investigate other locations for the facility.
Six other possible sites were identified prior to the Brother Street location.
However, Dicks said none of those are ideal, so council will need to broaden its search to find a more suitable site.
The initial plan was for construction to begin this summer with a completion date of 2027.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
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