So much happening in the North End. (Now just imagine a community hub at St. Patrick’s – Alexandra…

Twenty organizations serving the North End – from Cogswell to Devonshire – met at Veith House last week for the monthly North End Multi-Service roundtable.  (Read about the concept here.)  It was a rich exchange of concerns and opportunities.

One recurrent theme: as a community, we need to increase meaningful volunteer opportunities for youth.   Multiple organizations – including Phoenix Youth, Family SOS and the Community Justice Society  – are looking for placements.  Please dive into the notes (May 6- NECCnotesRoundtable) if you want to get in touch with them.  There are other great nuggets in the notes too, including opportunities to get help quitting smoking, learn mental health first aid and enjoy free recreation programs.

Our last roundtable before summer will be June 3 at 9 a.m. at Veith House.   If you think you could learn something or contribute something, please feel welcome.  The idea is simply to bring people into the same room so that more good things can happen through the relationships that are built… sort of the like the good stuff that could happen by having the three organizations that make up the North Central Community Council come together under the roof of St. Patrick’s-Alexandra.

Here’s a letter of support for the NCCC sent to Halifax Regional Council by NECC coordinator Lisa Roberts.

“12 May 2014

 Dear members of council,

I am a north end resident and work as community facilitator with the North End Community Circle, a project of the Community Justice Society that connects with dozens of North End-serving organizations (includes churches, non-profits, schools, etc.) and more than a hundred North End residents.  I am writing to tell you that there is widespread support for community-determined redevelopment of the St. Patrick’s-Alexandra site and a sense that this is an opportunity not-to-be-missed.  

As the staff report itself reflects, the North Central Community Council (NCCC) brings together three established, stable non-profit groups in Central Halifax, each of which has a track record of serving the community. Further, each of the three partners in the NCCC already maintains older properties and manages to do that – despite challenges – while developing programs that respond to the needs of historically marginalized citizens of Halifax.  They are up to the challenge that the staff report also outlines.

You have an opportunity, with this decision, to inject some balance into the development of downtown Halifax. The peninsula – and specifically, Gottingen St. and Agricola St. – are buzzing with new local restaurants and businesses.  Real estate prices have easily doubled in the past eight years. This is good news, but not if long-time residents are left feeling excluded.  Families and individuals should be able to move from public housing or rental housing to home ownership without leaving the peninsula, as this proposal would allow.

The non-profits that make up the NCCC have been extremely resourceful and even entrepreneurial in their approach to managing scarce resources. They likewise deserve a home.  At the June 26, 2013 public meeting, residents described the M’ikmaw Native Friendship Centre (MNFC) on Gottingen St. as “bursting at the seams.”  An institution like this belongs in or near downtown and we’re fortunate to have this chance before us.

Frankly, condos aren’t where community is built, but many people who live in those condos will also value the recreation programs, film screenings, community gatherings and services that can flourish in a community hub like the NCCC envisions.

This decision is important in its substance: this is a large piece of land, in an important location, and what happens on it matters to people with a long connection to the school and to the partners of the NCCC.  The message that you will send with your decision also matters enormously.  You can make a decision on St. Patrick’s Alexandra that will redress some of the historic wrongs committed by the city Halifax – and indeed, Canada as a whole – and move us towards a better future as a city.  Does Halifax Regional Municipality care about all of its residents?  When it can, will it use its power to help shape a more equitable future?  

Please take this opportunity on our behalf.”

One Comment

  1. Joanne Kerrigan May 12, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

    Great letter to council, thanks for doing that.

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