Nova Centre

The city has issued the last building permit needed to construct the Nova Centre.

A project as large and as complex as the Nova Centre must obtain a number of permits—in this case 13. They range from relatively minor permits removing existing sewer lateral connections to the city’s main, to two blasting permits, to four temporary encroachments of sidewalks and one permanent encroachment of Grafton Street.

The final permit was the building permit, which in this case was split in two, a very unusual, perhaps unprecedented, procedure.

Because developer Joe Ramia made significant changes to the proposed Nova Centre design, there was insufficient time for the proposed building to make it through the normal regulatory process and for Ramia to complete construction by January 1, 2016, the date he promised the province he would open the complex.

Should Ramia miss the opening date, he will not receive the $163.4 million he is scheduled to receive from the various levels of government. Moreover, if the convention centre portion of the complex doesn’t open on time, booked conventions for the facility will have to be either cancelled or moved to the existing convention centre.

To avoid those possibilities, the province granted Nova Centre an exemption to the city’s normal planning and building codes. Specifically, Ramia was allowed to build the underground portions of the complex while the design of the above-ground portion wound its way through the regulatory process. Because construction of the upper portion of the complex is dependent on the layout of the load-bearing lower portion, in practical terms the exemptions meant that the city couldn’t reject or demand changes in the upper portion, but everyone went through the fiction of the regulatory process anyway. Lo and behold, the upper portions were approved, exactly as Ramia had proposed them.

So, because of that two-step approval process, the final construction permit was split in two. The first part, for constructing the underground parking garages, was issued on September 9, 2013, a week after the province granted the exemptions. The second part of the construction permit, for all the above-ground construction, was issued last Wednesday, August 6.

Moving forward, when construction is completed Ramia, will need an occupancy permit. And there will likely be leasehold permits needed for construction specific for tenants’s needs.

Here’s a list of all the permits issued:

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Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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