Nova Scotia

Wooden Monkey loses bid to fast track claims over Nova Centre work

A Halifax restaurant has lost its bid to fast track a hearing into its claim for lost business due to overdue construction of the Nova Centre after the province's regulator ruled Wednesday it will not hear the case.

Halifax restaurant asked for $500K to cover lost revenue due to Nova Centre's construction

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

A Halifax restaurant has lost its bid to fast track a hearing into its claim for lost business due to overdue construction of the Nova Centre after the province's regulator ruled Wednesday it will not hear the case.

The Wooden Monkey asked the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to hear its claim for $500,000 in lost business because of prolonged construction of the one-million-square-foot downtown Halifax convention centre and hotel complex.

The Grafton Street restaurant, which is across the street from the large development, was seeking compensation from the municipality, the Crown agency Halifax Convention Centre Corporation and the province of Nova Scotia.

On Wednesday, the regulator agreed with the city and province that it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case because none of the governments were acting under the Expropriation Act in approving or funding to the project.

"There is no specific authority or direction, express or implied, in any of the relevant statutes, for the construction of the convention centre by the respondents or the causation of injurious affection," the review board wrote in a 41-page decision.

Go to court

The board concluded the Wooden Monkey should take up its case in the courts.

"Should the claimant wish to pursue its claim, it will have to do so in a court of competent jurisdiction."

Halifax restaurant The Wooden Monkey has lost its bid to fast track a hearing into its claim for lost business due to overdue construction of the Nova Centre. (Screengrab/Google Maps)

Developer Joe Ramia, through his company Argyle Developments, is building the $500-million complex.

Construction delays have pushed the opening date back three times since work started in 2012. Construction is expected to be substantially completed by December 2017.

Complaints

The Wooden Monkey blamed construction for a wide range of problems, including interruptions to electricity, water, internet and phone service that forced the restaurant to occasionally close.

It also complained about reduced parking, sidewalk closures, dirt, noise, dust vibration and unsafe conditions for customers due to crashes involving trucks.

"The construction of the works has had a significant, sustained, unreasonable impact on the claimant's business," Wooden Monkey lawyer Ray Wagner argued it in the review board application.

The governments argued all or part of Nova Centre is a private development, not a public work liable for compensation that may be claimed under the Expropriation Act.

Between them, the three levels of government are contributing $150 million towards the convention centre, which will be leased to the province for 25 years.

Mayor 'didn't think it was a legal case'

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage was not surprised by the outcome.

"We're sensitive to the fact that construction causes issues for people," he said Wednesday, following an announcement at Nova Centre that Rogers Communications has been selected to wire the building.

"I didn't think it was a legal case, but as a city it doesn't mean that we don't take it seriously. We do." 

Ramia was not named in the Wooden Monkey compensation claim before the review board. The restaurant has criticized the developer for not responding to complaints. On Wednesday, Ramia deflected the issue.

"Some of these retailers have done very well during the construction. Some have not. So we're very sensitive to their cause. But we're not really involved, so I can't really comment on it."

What's next

Wagner said Wednesday he will meet with the Wooden Monkey owners next week to discuss next steps.

"The discussion will centre around a couple of options," he said. "One option will be an appeal. The second option is to commence a class action proceeding."

Wagner said at least six other businesses in the area are prepared to move forward with a class action.

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