New Beechville subdivision to be built in area of historic Black homesteads

Subdivision will surround Beechville Baptist Church

The Lovett Lake subdivision in Beechville got another step closer to reality on Tuesday.

The Halifax and West community council passed a motion to consider changes to the development agreement and to schedule a public hearing.

The proposed changes include adding 15 acres of land to the development site which include creating a second road to access St. Margaret’s Bay Road and two parkland areas. It would also add an extra 93 residential units totalling 348 units across the subdivision.

In June 2014, the community council approved the mixed use residential and commercial development in Beechville. The initial development agreement allowed for 257 residential units in addition to commercial use space to be built over two phases.

This development plan was presented at a recent heritage advisory committee meeting.   HRM Staff Report

The development surrounds the Beechville Baptist Church, which was founded in 1844 and has been a heritage property since 2005. Given its proximity to Lovett Lake, the church has traditionally used the lake for baptism ceremonies. The passage between the lake and the church is known as the baptismal path.

In 2020, council passed a motion to require Armco Capital to work with the Beechville Community Development Association (BCDA) and the Beechville Baptist Church to address concerns identified by the Beechville African Nova Scotian community.

A staff report noted several concerns from the BCDA and Black community in Beechville during the community engagement process. The community was worried about losing historic lands and artifacts in the area and about heritage preservation in the area near the Baptist church.

An archeological study of the site found and excavated a historic homestead foundation. The study concluded that the building was likely related to the first-generation War of 1812 Black refugees who formed the community.

This graveyard is adjacent to the Beechville Baptist Church. Behind the graveyard is the wooded area known as the baptismal path that runs to Lovett Lake.   Meagan Byrd

At a Nov. 10 meeting of regional council’s heritage advisory committee, Coun. David Hendsbee discussed the possibility of recognizing the families who formed the community.

“I think this is an opportunity for some family heritage to be recognized for the founding families of that area,” Hendsbee said during the meeting. “I’m sure there’s an opportunity here for some local homestead names from the Beechville area that should be established in this subdivision. It’d be great to see.”

The new development plan proposed transferring ownership of the baptismal path back to the Beechville Baptist Church.

“This is a marvellous opportunity to give back to the community and to strengthen its heritage origins,” said Lois Yorke, a heritage advisory committee member, at last week’s committee meeting. “It’s also an excellent opportunity for the developer and HRM and the community to work on appropriate signage … to explain the origins and heritage of the community.”

Meagan Byrd

Meagan Byrd

Meagan is a multimedia journalist for The Signal at the University of King's College. She got her HBA in Political Science from the University of Toronto and is completing a Master's in Journalism at Kings. She likes podcasts and a good cup of coffee.

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