Nova Scotia

Province prepared to expropriate city land for QEII parkade: report

A classified report on the QEII redevelopment project's parking lot was made public on Tuesday and it includes information about a proposed tunnel under Summer Street and a plan to expropriate land from HRM if the municipality is unwilling to sell it.

Information is contained in a report that was made public at HRM council on Tuesday

The proposed Halifax Infirmary parkade is set to be built on the Museum of Natural History's parking lot on Summer Street in Halifax. (CBC)

A classified report on the QEII redevelopment project's parking lot that was made public on Tuesday indicates the province is willing to expropriate land from HRM if the municipality is unwilling to sell it.

The Jan. 14 report was released just as council voted to start a process to close a portion of the west side of Summer Street to permit the province to "co-locate" the proposed new parkade and power plant with the main hospital site.

It's not clear what will come of council's new pitch. In a statement, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines said the province is happy to work with the city on its proposal. 

But he said more work needs to be done to determine if the plan is a viable option. On Wednesday, Premier Stephen McNeil said if the proposal works for the city, "it works for us."

Parking plan

Currently, the proposed parkade is set to be built on the site of the Museum of Natural History's parking lot, but it would also be on land owned by HRM.

This includes lands to the south of the museum parking lot that would impact the existing entrance to the Wanderers field and centre of this block and lands east of the museum that would impact the Bengal Lancers riding school.

"[Province of Nova Scotia]/NS Lands has been and advises they are committed to working with staff to mitigate stakeholder impacts and ensure HRM, citizen and stakeholder requirements are considered and accommodated wherever practical," reads the newly declassified report.

"[Provincial government] staff have indicated that if HRM is unwilling to sell, they would proceed to expropriate the required land."

The document appears to contradict statements made recently by officials with the province. Deputy transportation minister Paul LaFleche told the legislature's public accounts committee that the government wasn't looking at expropriating land.

"Expropriation was only raised by some of the members opposite," he told the committee, referring to opposition MLAs.

"We haven't raised that at all."

McNeil disputes talk of expropriation

On Wednesday, following at an appearance before the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters he does not believe LaFleche misled the House.

"[The HRM document] didn't attribute those remarks to anyone. They themselves believe that's the only option for the province. They've always believed that. I've never said that, nor has anyone else."

McNeil said any decisions about expropriating land would always go to cabinet for final sign off.

The report noted the municipality has "binding obligations" to Sports & Entertainment Atlantic for use of the Wanderers Grounds for Canadian Premier League Soccer as well as to the Halifax Junior Bengal Lancers that would have to be addressed before any sale to the province could be concluded.

This existing hospital parkade on Robie Street will be demolished and relocated. The new structure is expected to be operational by March 2021. (CBC)

Both parties, as well as Coun. Waye Mason, have raised concerns about the location. The proposed multi-storey parkade is described as a standalone structure, but the report raises the possibility of an expansion that could include a "three-storey enlargement" and a pedestrian bridge.

"[The province] has submitted a letter requesting an above-ground encroachment over Summer Street to support this enlargement and connection between the parkade and hospital," the report stated.

While the letter has been received, the report noted encroachment applications and fees would be required.

If it proceeds with the original plan, the province intends to build a new central physical plant by the parkade. It would include boilers, stacks and fuel tanks and new structures to house the boilers, control room, chemical room, compressor room and more.

Horses from the Halifax Junior Bengal Lancers. The riding school is one organization that would be impacted by the province's plan to building a parking garage on Summer Street. (CBC)

An encroachment licence has been requested by the province to build a tunnel under Summer Street to move equipment, personnel and utilities between the heating plant and the main hospital complex.

Some functional issues were highlighted in the report, including an impact on traffic around the parkade, "including a potential four-way intersection at Veterans's Lane and Summer Street."

The province is aiming to have the parking structure built by March 2021.

The full report is now available to read on HRM's website.