When dignitaries gathered this week for the P.E.I. Convention Centre's grand opening, almost $7-million in cost overruns probably wasn't one of the things they were celebrating.
The initial price tag for the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation's 3,240-square-metre convention centre was pegged at $17.5 million, but that increased to the final cost of $24.3 million announced Wednesday.
Ron Waite, CADC's general manager, said a big part of that increase is roughly $5 million involved in a lawsuit claim against several companies involved in the building's construction, although he wouldn't comment further on the legal proceedings.
"It's one of those ones that it's about as much as I want to say about it right now," he said.
Plans for the convention centre were first announced in 2010 with a $17.5-million price tag cost shared between the provincial and federal governments.
With the work finished, the federal government's share stayed at $8.6 million, but the provincial government ended up spending almost $7 million more on the project than initially planned.
CADC owns the convention centre and the two levels of government funded it, although the province also has a stake in the development corporation.
The convention centre was built out into the Hillsborough River on top of fill that was poured into an area enclosed by a seawall.
But during the construction, the seawall buckled, which led to work stopping until engineers determined it was safe to continue.
A company was brought in to strengthen the ground under the convention centre by pouring concrete into the dirt and mixing the two.
Issues at the site led to lawsuits and counter lawsuits between CADC and several contractors over allegations of unpaid bills and problems with the work.
Waite said when it came to cost overruns it was a matter of a choice between finishing work, cutting back on what was done or not finishing the project.
"In a number of cases it was the impact of reducing work would have had a significant impact on the finished product," he said.
Infrastructure Renewal Minister Robert Vessey was also contacted about the cost overruns and said that while the claims were outstanding it wouldn't be fair for him to comment on the amount the project was over budget.
He did say that what happened was unfortunate, but it was something that had to be dealt with.
"We feel we have a very strong case," he said.
Vessey made similar comments to Waite and said when a project like the convention centre is started it needs to be finished.
"CADC has built a very state-of-the-art building that all Islanders should be proud of."