Downtown businesses drop legal action over Nova Centre construction

Seven downtown Halifax businesses have dropped their legal action over lost revenue due to construction delays at the Nova Centre.

'We're exhausted. We're tired,' says Lil MacPherson, co-owner of the Wooden Monkey, as lawsuit abandoned

Construction on the Nova Centre has hampered access to downtown Halifax for several years. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC)

Seven downtown Halifax businesses have dropped their legal action over lost revenue due to construction delays from the Nova Centre.

The Wooden Monkey and six other businesses hired lawyer Ray Wagner to take legal action seeking to recover money lost due to the construction. They went after Halifax Regional Municipality, the province and the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation.

"We're exhausted. We're tired," Lil MacPherson, co-owner of the Wooden Monkey, said Tuesday. "We're going to get out of it."

The restaurant is directly across the street from the new convention centre construction site. Work began in January 2013 and is now two years behind schedule. Auditors working with Wagner's firm estimated the Wooden Monkey lost $508,107 in revenue in that period.

The businesses blamed street closures, reductions in parking, reductions in pedestrian traffic, dirt, noise and dust from the building site for the losses.

'Not an appetite for us to win'

Wagner took the case to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, hoping it would get them compensation. But the board said the developer, Argyle Developments, was responsible for the construction, so the board had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

"When the UARB decided to say no, we just knew right then," MacPherson said. "We feel strongly that there is not an appetite for us to win."

Halifax also carried out extensive streetscaping on several downtown streets, further impeding access to the area. That project is nearly done.

"We're almost at the top of the mountain. We can see the grass," MacPherson said. "Maybe there's some green grass over there and we can clean our windows."

Lack of council support

The Wooden Monkey co-owner said neither the mayor nor her district's councillor stopped by to ask her how the construction was affecting business.

"Clearly the city doesn't care about small businesses and how these mega-projects affect us," she said.

The other businesses involved in the abandoned lawsuit were the Economy Shoe Shop, Attica, the Carleton, Indochine, Drala Books and Gifts and Biscuit General Store.