Nova Centre developer sues Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia

Argyle Developments Inc. has filed a legal action in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia against the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia and its board of directors.

Heritage Trust spokesperson describes legal action as 'personal' and 'upsetting'

Argyle Developments Inc. says it is taking legal action "to protect the integrity of the Nova Centre construction schedule and to meet its obligations to tenants for occupancy by late 2015." (Argyle Developments Inc.)

The developer of the massive Nova Centre project in downtown Halifax has filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia against the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia and its board of directors.

Argyle Developments Inc. says the Heritage Trust is trying to stall construction of the Nova Centre and believes the Heritage Trust is acting outside of its mandate as a heritage preservation society.

"The Heritage Trust’s persistent efforts to quash downtown development — including Nova Centre — is beyond their expressed mandate, adds costs, and has a negative impact on the progress of our city and province," said Joe Ramia, the CEO of Argyle Developments, in a news release.

When the Nova Centre's final design was approved, the Heritage Trust argued the design was too big for Halifax's historic downtown and has since applied to the court for a judicial review of the decision made by city council.

Legal action 'upsetting'

A board member of the Heritage Trust calls Argyle Developments' legal action upsetting.

"It's clear that this is simply an attempt to intimidate the board of the Heritage Trust," Phil Pacey said. "As far as we can tell, it's an action that doesn't have any merits. It says that we're trying to stall construction and that's certainly not our objective."

Pacey said he feels the legal action is personal.

"We certainly never criticized Argyle Developments as a corporate body or any member of that firm," he said. "Our concern has always been with the process and the actual development that's proposed. We're seeking to protect the public interest here."

Controversial development

Just more than a month ago, Argyle Developments was on the other side of a legal action when another developer filed a lawsuit against the company in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

The Thiel Family Group of Companies — which owns the Bank of Montreal Building, TD Centre and the buildings proposed to be redeveloped as 22 Commerce Square — argue the Nova Scotia government failed to follow two of its own laws when it granted Argyle Developments an exemption from municipal planning rules last year.

The lawsuit claims the changes were made so Argyle Developments could "meet an aggressive and otherwise unobtainable construction schedule," and "were intended to protect the commercial interests of and gave an unfair advantage to Argyle over the interests of other private developers and commercial landlords."

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The $500-million Nova Centre will be the home to a new $164-million convention centre, a luxury hotel, as well as business and retail space.