Downtown Halifax restaurant ends legal action over Nova Centre construction losses

The Wooden Monkey is directly across the street from the Nova Centre project, which has seen multiple delays and is now expected to be complete in December 2017. Rebecca Lau/ Global News

The owners of a downtown Halifax restaurant have decided to end their legal action to recover losses they say they had to endure during the five-year construction of the Nova Centre.

Lil MacPherson and Christine Bower, the co-owners of The Wooden Monkey, say they will not be appealing after the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) declined to hear their claim.

“We are just exhausted … and we just want to turn the page, get on with our life and put this behind us. So we decided to back out.”

In June 2016, The Wooden Monkey, along with six other downtown businesses, retained Wagners Law Firm to recover losses during the construction.

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

MacPherson says street and sidewalk closures, reduction in street parking, noise and dust all contributed to a slowdown in business.

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“We’ve lost like 35 per cent of the traffic and our income has been lost and so we will never recoup that,” MacPherson said.

Construction of the Nova Centre began in January 2013, and is currently still ongoing, with a projected opening date of December.

READ MORE: Mayoral candidate Lil MacPherson calls on Halifax to think bigger

The municipal, provincial and federal governments, as well as Argyle Development Inc, its parent company and the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation were all advised last summer of the businesses’ claim for injurious affection.

The claim was for personal and business damages as a result of the Nova Centre construction disruptions.

WATCH: Halifax businesses take legal action over Nova Centre construction

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Halifax businesses take legal action over Nova Centre construction – Jun 27, 2016

When they did not receive replies to their notices of negotiation, The Wooden Monkey filed a claim with the UARB seeking to recover a loss of $508, 107.

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That figure was reached by a forensic accountant and the claim was made against the municipality, the province and the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation.

The Nova Centre is a million-square-foot mixed-use development that will include a convention centre, hotel, business towers and restaurants. Rebecca Lau/ Global News

But the respondents challenged the board’s authority to hear the claim because they said they were not responsible for the project, and therefore not responsible to pay damages.

In September, the board ruled the developer was responsible for the construction and the UARB didn’t have the jurisdiction to hear the claim against the municipality, the province and the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation.

READ MORE: Downtown Halifax businesses lose bid to fast track claims against Nova Centre

Lawyer Ray Wagner says he believes The Wooden Monkey’s case has shown the gap in the legal system when it comes to public-private partnerships and who is responsible when construction causes business losses.

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“We’re disappointed with the outcome and the fact we didn’t have jurisdiction with the UARB,” Ray Wagner told Global News.

“We’ve exposed the need to address compensation and exposed the significant gap in legislation where it can cause harm and there is no way to redress because of the way the government sets up its business model.”

Wagner says it is up to the other six businesses if they would like to start the legal process again with their own cases at this point.

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