Judge rejects attempt to add more Africville residents to statement of claim
HALIFAX -- Dozens of people will not be allowed to join a legal case over the relocation of Africville residents in Halifax in the 1960s, a Supreme Court judge has ruled.
The residents had argued that they should be allowed to be part of a 1996 statement of claim seeking redress of the expropriation of land in the black community.
Even though they had signed release claims in 2010 after a settlement was reached with the municipality, they say they should be allowed to join the ongoing legal matter.
However, Judge Patrick Duncan said in his 35-page decision issued Thursday that those who signed the releases did so with legal advice and knowing the effect of the agreement.
"To permit this result would effect a total repudiation of the agreement," Duncan wrote in his decision. "They accepted the terms of the settlement knowingly and with the advice of legal counsel."
The settlement included a public apology from then-mayor Peter Kelly and $3 million to rebuild the Africville church, among other things.
Karen MacDonald, the lawyer for the City of Halifax, said adding former residents who already signed off on the settlement would have effectively reopened the deal.
"The city negotiated that settlement in good faith," she said. "They shouldn't be allowed back in."
Robert Pineo, who represents the residents, wasn't available for comment. He has said in the past that if the proposed amendment were not granted, he may decide to restart the entire class-action process anew. It has not been certified.
Pineo argued in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in February that the City of Halifax expropriated the land in Africville, but did not follow its own rules under the city's charter.
Pineo said the residents were never informed at the time there was a process they could follow to appeal the amount of compensation they were offered for the land.
He also argued that the new expropriation evidence should mean that roughly 65 people who signed the 2010 release claims should be allowed to join the new action.
Pineo said the amount of compensation the residents are seeking is not known at this point, but would be based on land values.