Halifax businesses want utility board to decide battle over Nova Centre and lost revenue

The Nova Centre on June 27, 2017. Rebecca Lau/ Global News

A group of downtown businesses in Halifax hopes the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board will be able to settle the battle over lost revenue due to the construction of the Nova Centre.

Thursday’s full-day hearing will try to determine whether the board is the correct jurisdiction for the cases.

The province of Nova Scotia, Halifax Regional Municipality and the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation all say that the board doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear a complaint over what is called “injurious affection” damages and that the case should be heard before the province’s supreme court.

READ MORE: Opening for Halifax’s Nova Centre delayed again

But the Wagner’s Law Firm, which represents the group of downtown of businesses and are using The Wooden Monkey restaurant as a test case, say otherwise.

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According to Ray Wagner, the province’s utility board is supposed to hear complaints against publicly funded projects and that is what the Nova Centre amounts to.

“The whole complex of the Nova Centre would not be proceeding without the three levels of government giving up to $150 million to that centre,” said Wagner. “When it’s being promoted as [a public project] by the city and the province it seems to be as such.”

The Wooden Monkey, a restaurant on Grafton Street, claims to have lost $508,107 as a result of the construction of the Nova Centre, which has forced sidewalks and streets to be closed, reduced parking and cut down pedestrian traffic.

Other businesses that have taken legal action include Biscuit General Store, Attica, The Carleton, The Economy Shoe Shop, Indochine and Drala Books & Gifts.

READ MORE: Downtown Halifax businesses take legal action over Nova Centre construction impact

The Nova Centre was supposed to have been completed in January 2016, but numerous delays have caused that date to be pushed back to December 2017.

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“The delay means we’re behind for a few months but on a job of this magnitude and this complexity, you know, there’s always challenges you have to deal with,” Joe Ramia, president and CEO of Argyle Developments Inc, told Global News in November.

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