Coun. Rob Lantz says CADC was under pressure to get construction underway
Architect's rendering of the Prince Edward Island convention centre planned for lower Queen Street in Charlottetown. - Submitted photo
Questions are being asked about how the $17.5-million convention centre project in Charlottetown was allowed to begin without a permit from the city.
Coun. Mitchell Tweel brought the matter up at a public meeting of city council, explaining why he’s raising the subject almost two years after construction began.
The councillor said he has been hearing things “throughout the community.’’ He asked Coun. Rob Lantz, chair of the planning committee, if all the procedures and processes were followed with the project and if there were any issues.
The answer was no.
Lantz said the project was well under construction before a building permit was ever issued.
“How can that possibly happen?’’ Tweel asked. “A major venue being constructed in the city of Charlottetown being built without a permit with the staff that we have. Where is the communication breakdown?’’
The project is slated to wrap up in 2014. When it’s finished, it will double the Delta Prince Edward hotel’s convention space.
Lantz told Tweel this is not the first time a project has started in the capital city before the permit was issued. Permits allow developers to proceed with work.
Tweel was told the city was in constant communication with the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation (the developer). The convention centre is a design-build project, meaning not all the design and plans were finished up front.
“We were not at the stage where we were able to issue a building permit until well after it was under construction,’’ Lantz said. “However, we had some difficulty communicating with CADC and getting the information we needed.
“I can tell you and anyone on planning board can tell you the last time they visited prior to them actually getting their building permit, I made it extremely clear to them that I was
very unhappy about the entire way the process unfolded.’’
Lantz said he thinks the project has been driven, from the beginning, by the provincial government.
“CADC was under the gun to have the project on schedule to be completed for 2014,’’ the chair of planning said, noting the initial permits for things like excavation and the foundation took place at the appropriate times.
Lantz said there were still questions about the design of the structure itself and answers weren’t forthcoming after work began.
Tweel then suggested the city should have stepped in with a stop-work order.
Lantz said the planning department can recommend such an order be issued but it wasn’t considered in this case.
“All along the way, it wasn’t an ideal process. It just took some time to receive some of the information we needed but there was never any deviation from the plans that we always had.’’
Lantz said the final design ended up being almost exactly what CADC indicated it would be during the initial news conference to announce the project.
“I don’t think a stop-work order was appropriate in this case.’’