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  • Writer's pictureJohn Chisholm

Property Rights in The Prestons

I would like to share the work of Evangeline Downey. She's working on an issue in the Prestons that I've followed since I was a kid growing up on the other side of the Waverley Game Sanctuary. Land Title is the problem. You can help.

For more than 200 years, many African Nova Scotians have been living on land passed down by their ancestors without clear land title. Without clear title, they can’t get a mortgage, bequeath or sell their land, or access housing grants.

Though you may not have heard about this local issue, here's a BBC article about it.

In 2016 the government announced there's a Land Title Initiative 'in the works'. It's been in the works since the 1800's. I've written about it many times and shared the news each time it comes up.

It could get settled permanently this year.

Here's some recent media about the context of the issue well written by lawyer Robyn Schleihauf . It's astonishing with all the 'anti-racism' talk that this isn't the first issue. Imagine growing up through generations on family land that you can't really call your own in the eyes of authourity. It would drive me to... I don't know what.

Here's the story of Chris Downey and his family in McLeans Magazine who recently won a long hard fought battle through the courts against the government of Nova Scotia.

In a statement provided to CBC News after the ruling, the minister in charge of taking the Downey's to court rather than helping them, Iain Rankin said, "We will continue to look for ways to streamline this process and remove barriers wherever possible.” That's some bad politics right there. He's implying they' were helping up to this point. They were not. And months later as far as I know they are not. There's been no public update and no news of any progress.

The reason I think this story is right for this broad issues blog beyond its enduring painfulness is because it's one of those issues that gets bounced around between the three levels of government like a huckster's shell game. If you ask the municipal government (the level that still often charges people property taxes on these disputed properties), they would say it's a provincial issue. Likewise, land settlement claims of this and even higher import should be federal issues. I'll be writing about how bureaucrats and politicians use the 3 level 'shell game' system to make hay and avoid responsibility and decision-making in a later article.

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