New Brunswick

Work on proposed Fundy Quay project in Saint John to begin in the spring

All three levels of government have pledged a total of $24 million to help prepare the former Coast Guard site on Saint John's waterfront for a new development.

All three levels of government pledge a combined $24 million

This is an architect's preliminary concept for the former Coast Guard site. (Submitted by Develop Saint John)

After some false starts over the years, construction on the Fundy Quay project in Saint John is set to begin this summer. 

"This has been a project we've been talking about for a long time. Today is about action," Mayor Don Darling said Friday during a funding announcement for the project.

All three levels of government were represented to announce their portions of the project — $6 million will come from the province, $9 million from the city, and $9 million from the federal government. 

In 2019, the city granted a two-year option on the six-acre (2.4-hectare) property to a private company, Fundy Quay Developments Inc., but the deal hinged on the site being construction-ready by the end of 2021.

David Elias, the president and CEO, said there were too many issues with the site to make it viable for construction. 

"Once those are removed, this will be the prime property in Atlantic Canada to be developed," he said Friday. "And we're pleased to be a part of it."

Work will begin in the spring to prepare the old Canadian Coast Guard site for the proposed Fundy Quay development. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

The remediation phase of the project will begin in the spring. That will include removal of contaminated soil, raising of the overall level of the site in anticipation of a rise in sea levels, and improving underground storm infrastructure. 

Once that's done, Elias said, his company will begin a five-phase project over the next 10 years to construct a mixture of commercial and residential buildings on the former Coast Guard site. 

He expects construction on the first foundations to begin within two years. 

The project will also incorporate public space into the development, including 500 metres of multi-use paths along the new development, and a pedestrian connection between the new site and Market Wharf. 

Premier Blaine Higgs acknowledged the stop-and-start history of development on the old Coast Guard property.

"I know all good things take time, and this one has taken time, but I am excited about it being a catalyst for the city like never before," he said during the Zoom announcement. 

The former coast guard administrative building on Water Street was demolished in 2018 to make way for future development of the site. (CBC)

"Not only will this investment create new economic activity during the construction phase, but the transformation of the area will attract substantial private-sector investment in the longer term."

Higgs said the project is expected to generate $138.1 million in total GDP, more than 2,000 jobs, and $21.4 million in provincial government revenue. 

Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long said the project will allow the city to "unlock the full economic potential of the waterfront." 

Darling said the economic spinoffs from the project will extend beyond Saint John.  

"Let's focus on the positivity of changing a parking lot into a major investment in vibrancy, moving this community forward," said Darling. 

"This is an historic day for this community." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mia Urquhart is a CBC reporter based in Saint John. She can be reached at mia.urquhart@cbc.ca.

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