Capital Pointe project has Regina city councillor questioning construction permit system

The City has to renew its permit an unlimited number of times, despite the fact that almost a decade of construction hasn't brought the project above ground.

Downtown skyscraper project’s permit set to expire in September

The City of Regina has to renew Fortress Real Development Inc.'s Capital Pointe permit an unlimited number of times, despite delays. (CBC News)

A construction permit for Regina's Capital Pointe project is set to expire next month, and despite the skyscraper's construction facing delays, the municipality must continue to renew the permit if requested.

One city councillor said the project illustrates that new bylaws, setting time limits for construction, might be needed.

The project at Victoria Avenue and Albert Street, where the old Plains Hotel used to sit, has been in the works since 2010. Those who invested in condos expected to be living in the 26-storey building by 2013.

Right now, though, the project is still a large pit.
Fortress Real Developments Inc. took over the development in June 2014. (CBC News)

After the project faced trouble getting started with another company, Fortress Real Developments Inc. took over the development in June 2014 and set the completion date for 2018.

This year, the company adjusted that timeline, saying it would reach ground level construction in November and complete the project in spring 2019.

Natasha Alibhai, communications manager with Fortress, said there have been no major changes to the development's overall timeline since the spring.

"The project is not coming to an end, but progressing at this time," she said in an email.

Ward 2 Coun. Bob Hawkins wouldn't speculate on whether he thought the project will ever be completed, but expressed frustration on behalf of Regina city council.

"It's disappointing, very disappointing, that the project is taking so long to complete," he told CBC on Wednesday.

"I think the city administration is doing everything it can do in terms of trying to move the project forward. I think, though, we have no regulations which require a project to be completed within a certain time and that, in this case, is causing a real problem."
The city has asked the developer to clear the sidewalk on Victoria Avenue in front of its building site. (CBC News)

Fortress was issued a permit for excavation and shoring on Sept. 16, 2015. The current building permit on the Capital Pointe project expires on Sept. 15, 2017.

The developer needs to obtain a new building permit before the expiration date or construction activity will have to stop.

And the city must renew Fortress's permit an unlimited number of times, providing it meets the standards of the National Building Code and city regulations.

'An eyesore'

City council has heard about the project countless times from frustrated residents, Hawkins said. The build site is not far from City Hall, and councillors as well as business people in the area find it hard to ignore, he said.

The project is on the corner of a main intersection of the city, where it has been blocking the sidewalk on Victoria Avenue and a lane of traffic on Albert Street.

"The project is also an eyesore. It's right in the heart of our downtown and it's not the kind of hole in the ground that we want to see," Hawkins said. "People are aware that this is taking a very long time and moving very, very slowly."

Hawkins said city bylaws are under review by administration and any changes will come before council in the next year or two.

Freeing up the sidewalk

For now, the city has asked the developer to clear the sidewalk on Victoria Avenue in front of its construction site. Louise Folk, director of development services with the City of Regina, said the department wanted the developer to restore pedestrian access in the area.

The developer agreed to this request and has the rest of the week to make it happen, Folk said.
Fortress has the rest of the week to make sure the sidewalk is clear. (CBC News)

"Currently, this work is underway. It is the developer's responsibility to carry out these plans," she said in a statement.

Alibhai confirmed that "a scheduled pedestrian tunnel walkway along Victoria" will "facilitate future stages of construction."

About the Author

Alex Soloducha

Alex Soloducha is a reporter for CBC Saskatchewan.