With the design plans of Halifax’s new convention centre set to pass final regulatory hurdles, a local group has turned to the courts to expose what they call preferential treatment for the project.
The Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia has filed a request for judicial review with the province’s Supreme Court, seeking to quash the April 29 regional council vote that authorized three changes to the convention centre’s design: the size and shape of the towers, the decision to move the ballroom above ground and the closure of part of Grafton Street.
The Grafton Street sale was approved during a closed-door meeting at City Hall this week, though details won’t be made public until the deal is finalized.
Developer Joe Ramia said the design changes were a result of public consultation, but the judicial review filing alleges that the municipality breached its own charter and bylaws, “acted unfairly, arbitrarily or in bad faith”, and “was biased in its decision-making.”
Heritage Trust’s Phil Pacey said lawyers won’t meet on the issue until late June or early July, but he was confident that a judge would agree with his group’s position.
“I’m optimistic,” Pacey said. “We have strong ground to stand on.”
Pacey cited several issues that he objected to with the convention centre’s design, chief among them a lack of realism in how the Nova Centre will interact with the surrounding area.
“All of the mock-ups of the building are from the perspective of some area floating in space,” he said. “We haven’t seen how it will compare to the rest of the area on a proper scale.”
The Heritage Trust is not seeking to stop the project completely through an injunction, just to reverse the changes that arose from the April 29 meeting.
Downtown South councilor Waye Mason, whose district includes the Nova Centre development, could not be reached for comment.