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Letters to the editor, January 5, 2017

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Development's war on history
I feel as though there is almost a war going on against the history and culture of Halifax. Maybe it's far-fetched, but I'm reminded of the looting of ancient artifacts by American soldiers during the Iraq war. Also by the destruction of Christian villages by ISIS and the demolition of the beautiful ancient city of Aleppo in Syria by Russian and American bombs.

The tearing down of exquisite, hand-crafted sturdy mansions along Young Avenue, Barrington Street and Spring Garden Road, to name just three of the streets, is happening and is horrific. These buildings were from the Age of Sail, when Halifax was larger and more important than New York. This is part of a proud history we are losing rapidly.

If we, and especially our children, don't know our history, don't have a built history to experience, we do not know who we are—we don't know who we can be. For example, buildings bought up by developers along Spring Garden Road include a house where Margaret Marshall Saunders, the first bestselling author in Canada, lived. Seven million copies of her book Beautiful Joe sold around the world. At least you can see a portrait of her at the Just Us! Cafe across the street from her home. But her house should be saved. We don't honour our own.

I implore developers to stop demolishing our heritage. You are citizens of Halifax and should be proud of our storied past. I also implore city council to stop permitting these demolition permits. There is something wrong with a system that, without declaring war, is destroying our history. —Wendy Scott, Halifax


Help me help you
"Either you stand for something or you stand for nothing."

It's time for my New Year's resolution. Those of you who know me know the lack of accessibility in this city has been a thorn in my side. Yes, things have improved (the sidewalks on Spring Garden come to mind), but this city still has a very long way to go. I've had meetings with the mayor and others from city hall, and while some people say they legitimately do care (I'm not one of those people who believe that), the powers that be don't have a clue on what needs to be done. Yes, it's an old city and yes, somethings can't be fixed without major renovations. I get that. But things like wheelchair ramps and four-strap systems on a bus aren't rocket science.

My resolution is this: If I can't enter your building on my own without any assistance, I can't support you.

There are some people living in this city who are amazing advocates for accessibility, and I thank you for it. However, I've said this so many times in the past two years that I should have it tattooed across my forehead: If you have mobility issues, DO NOT move here. The city has made living here a nightmare, and until those affected by this—whether you have mobility issues or you own a business that does not have barrier-free access—band together and say "enough is enough," things will never change. This might mean some of you will be seeing less of me (or is that a good thing?), but Halifax has really forced my hand.

Two thousand sixteen was a terrible year for many people, so I sincerely hope things begin to turn around in the coming year for everyone. Be good to each other. If I can physically get to you, I'll see you around. —Brian George, Halifax


Johnston's legacy
I congratulate The Coast and writer Evelyn C. White for the feature on James R. Johnston, African Nova Scotia's lost leader ("Consider the saga of James Robinson Johnston," The City, December 22). A century after his death, his legacy is more timely and resonant than ever. Johnston was the progenitor of the concept for black education which, immediately after and probably on account of his sudden tragic death, was reduced by the white philanthropists who hijacked it to build an orphanage for blacks: the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children. Had Johnston lived, we might have had in Nova Scotia a Hampton or Tuskegee University. —Barry Cahill, Halifax

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