Nova Scotia

Nova Centre faces legal action from Attica, Wooden Monkey and Carleton

Three Halifax businesses are threatening legal action against the Nova Centre and more could join them, lawyer Ray Wagner said Monday.

Lawyer Ray Wagner says his clients have lost about 30 per cent of gross revenues because of the construction

Some downtown Halifax businesses say they're losing big business because of construction of the Nova Centre. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC)

Three Halifax businesses are threatening legal action against the Nova Centre and more could join them, lawyer Ray Wagner said Monday.

The businesses say the ongoing construction has badly hurt their earnings. Wagner said the Wooden Monkey, the Carleton and Attica have retained his firm, and he's talking to others. (Wooden Monkey owner Lil MacPherson has said she is running for mayor in the fall elections.)

"We have some more meetings later this week, but we really can't announce their participation until such time as they've signed on," Wagner told CBC News.

Losing hundreds of thousands of dollars

He said the losses are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"The business disruption is in the order of 30 per to 35 per cent loss of gross revenues on an annual basis," he said.

The businesses will seek compensation under the "injurious affection" provision of Nova Scotia's Expropriation Act, Wagner said, although no land was expropriated in this case.  

"That provision provides for where there's a capital project, a government project, that impacts upon the businesses that surround it," he said. "There's a provision for compensation for people who have suffered as a result of the disruption."

Wagner said the group has told Nova Centre developer Argyle Developments, parent company Rank Inc., all three levels of government and the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation. The convention centre is part of the Nova Centre.

Halifax reviewing documents

Wagner invited them to negotiate a settlement. If they can't agree in a few months, Wagner said he will take the case to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to seek redress.

A spokeswoman for Halifax confirmed it has been notified.

"We will be reviewing the documentation and determining next steps on our response to the filing," said Tiffany Chase. 

Calls to Rank Inc. were not immediately returned. 

In the meantime, Wagner said the merchants face almost daily problems and are unhappy with the response they're getting from the builders.

"There's not a lot of patience and there's not a lot of flexibility. This has had a terrible impact upon very businesses," he said.

Call to protect businesses during megaprojects

He hopes the action compels Halifax to develop a mitigation strategy to better protect businesses affected by future megaprojects.

"Otherwise we'd just be destroying small business for the big monoliths. And that's really just not fair," Wagner said.

The Utility and Review Board determines compensation under the Expropriation Act where a property owner and an expropriating authority cannot agree on the compensation.

The board website says Section 26 of the law provides that compensation payable to the owner "shall be the aggregate of the market value of the land or family home, the damages for injurious affection, the value to the owner of any special economic advantage arising out of, or incidental to, his or her actual occupation of the land, together with the reasonable costs, expenses and losses arising out of, or incidental to, the owner's disturbance."


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