After three years — and $14 million out of the developer’s pockets — the Capital Pointe hole is finally set to begin construction.
Or so the developer claims.
Neil Abbott, counsel for WestGate Properties Ltd., told Global News the developer chose the first option put forth by the Saskatchewan Accessibility Standards Appeal Board: complete the project.
“Obviously, my client was not inclined to fill it — that was the whole reason we opposed the order to comply,” Abbot said.
The 17-metre deep hole, located at the corner of Albert Street and Victoria Avenue in Regina, was dug to provide five storeys of underground parking for what was to be a 27-storey building. Work on the project began in 2015 but stopped in August 2017. The city and Westgate have been in a legal battle over the fate of the property.
On Aug. 23, the appeal board said the developer had until Sept. 30 to choose between one of three options for the site: complete the construction project; construct permanent shoring; or decommission the project and backfill the site.
“The election to proceed with building it is not a recognition that the site is unsafe, rather it’s a decision our client has made, and they’ve expressed their interest in completing the development of the site,” Abbott continued.
The decision to complete the build comes with certain timelines set out by the board. WestGate will need to create a new temporary shoring design, and apply for excavation permits by Oct. 31 and work on the new shoring must be underway no later than Dec. 8.
The timeline also calls for designs for the building and a building permit application to be submitted no later than Feb. 28, 2019, with construction beginning by April 1, 2019, and concluding no later than March 30, 2022.
Whether those deadlines will be met, or even can be met, is an unknown. Abbott made clear that WestGate understood the timelines that came with agreeing to build the project, but noted they weren’t timelines set out by the city or WestGate.
“The board came up with this proposed schedule and timeline independent of counsel, and independent of counsel. This is the board’s deadline, whether they are practical is something our client can address directly with the city,” Abbott noted.
What happens if those deadlines aren’t met? It’s a question Abbott can’t answer, and one the City of Regina refused to speak on.
“Short answer, I don’t know. The order is an order of the board and the act does have certain compliance requirements with orders issued by the board and it would be up to the board or the city to address non-compliance directly with our client,” Abbott said.
The city appealed the board’s decision allowing the continued construction of the project, calling it “unreasonable,” arguing that the appeal would require building, development and street use approval that the board does not have the authority to approve or compel the city to approve.
An appeal hearing will be held at the court of Queen’s Bench on Oct. 23.
“It is a very odd situation where the City will essentially be trying to stop the development and try to backfill it, when that is certainly not what our plan intends,” Abbott noted.
If the city is successful in its appeal, the courts can have the board re-hear the issue, overturn the board’s ruling, or make their own — all of which could undo any progress made on the site in the interim; leaving WestGate on shaky ground.
“As of now, they are essentially saying to my client that they still want to backfill the excavation,” Abbott said.