As reported on CTV News, a grassroots group in Halifax is demanding that 20 per cent of construction jobs and contracts related to a major redevelopment project be set aside for African Nova Scotians.
Halifax is planning to redevelop the Cogswell Interchange area into a mixed-use community with parks, bike lanes, shops and a transit hub. Initial estimates put the cost of the project at $65 million.
The group 902 Man Up, which provides mentoring for black youths, says one-fifth of the construction contracts must go to construction companies owned by African Nova Scotians, one-fifth of all construction jobs must go to African Nova Scotian workers, and one-fifth of businesses located in the development area must be owned by African Nova Scotians.
A release from the group says the quotas are needed because black people experience unemployment rates that are much higher than the provincial average and make less money than white Nova Scotians.
According to 2016 census data from Statistics Canada, 2.4 per cent of Nova Scotians identified as black. In Halifax, the percentage is 3.7 per cent.
Local business owner Duane Jones told CTV Atlantic that he supports the proposal.
“These types of programs are important to help us catch up,” Jones said. “Ultimately I’d love to be in a world where we don’t even have to do that, we could just have whatever last name we have, look the way we are, and it’s all about what kind of work can you actually do.”
The president of 902 Man Up told CTV Atlantic that their next move is to gather support for the campaign. They plan to release more details ahead of a public meeting on Monday, May 27.
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