City tells appeal board Capital Pointe hole is “unsafe” amid calls for the site to be decommissioned

Click to play video 'City tells appeal board Capital Pointe hole is “unsafe” amid calls for the site to be decommissioned' City tells appeal board Capital Pointe hole is “unsafe” amid calls for the site to be decommissioned
The City of Regina revealed engineers quit the Capital Pointe project and are calling for the site to be decommissioned – May 16, 2018

The Saskatchewan Building and Accessibility Standards Appeal Board heard arguments for a stay of proceedings in regards to the City of Regina’s order for the developer to fill in the Capital Pointe hole.

The City of Regina argued the site – which has been “abandoned for months,” according to the city’s legal counsel Christine Clifford – is unsafe.

Clifford noted the “excavation exposes the faces of buildings on adjacent properties,” as well as the road beds of Albert Street and Victoria Avenue.

“Those road beds also house city infrastructure…including high-pressure gas lines,” Clifford continued.

The city argued prolonged exposure had could pose a hazard, providing examples of past gas leaks, and noting that heavy precipitation unsettled exposed buildings in the past, highlighting the fact that while the site was currently unsafe, the risk could increase at a moment’s notice.

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Sahil Shoor, the lawyer for Westgate Properties Ltd. – the company who owns the development –  argued the site was never unsafe on April 3, and that there was no evidence to support the city’s claim at the time. They said there should be a stay on the order to fill the hole until after the appeal has been decided.

Since April 3, there has been evidence displayed. In the hearing it was revealed that Isherwood Geostructural Engineers, the former engineer of record quit the project on May 11th, and issued a recommendation that the site be “decommissioned.”

READ MORE: Capital Pointe developer appeals Regina’s order to fill hole

It’s unclear what they meant by decommissioned, but Clifford suggested they were referring to filling in the Capital Pointe hole.

Westgate said they’ve already sunk $14 million into the project since taking over in 2009, and that if the appeal board does not decide to stay it will cause “irreparable harm and prejudice” to the company if the city is allowed to fill the hole.

The discovery that Isherwood Geostructural Engineers left the project means that Capital Pointe no longer has a shoring contractor, general contractor, or a engineer of record associated with the project.

READ MORE: City of Regina prepared to force Capital Pointe development to back-fill site

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Neil Abbot, another lawyer for Westgate Properties, said they are “scrambling to deal with this,” adding that they hope to have new contractors from western Canada in place by the end of the month.

If the stay is not granted the city would be allowed to fill the hole, something Clifford said they expect to take 17 weeks and 53,000m³ of dirt.

The appeal board said they would make a decision on the stay “in due course,” and that the decision would be emailed to participants.

The Ministry of Government Relations has clarified that this is not the appeal hearing; a date for that has yet to be set.

The city filed the order to fill the hole in early April after the developer failed to meet a deadline to resume construction on the project.

“This action is taken under the authority granted to the city by The Uniform Building and Accessibility Standards Act,” Louise Folk, city of Regina development services director said in a statement on April 3.

“Under the Act, the property owner may appeal the order to the Saskatchewan Building and Accessibility Standards Appeal Board of Saskatchewan within 15 days from today.”

Exactly 15 days later, Fortress Real Developments filed the appeal, and informed Global News they would no longer comment on what was “certainly a legal matter.”

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Construction on Capital Pointe started in October 2015 with plans to build a 27-storey condominium and hotel complex. The project was initially announced in 2009, just three years before the former-standing Plains Hotel was demolished.