Getting started

Long Wharf Preparations begin on site of Irving Oil Ltd.'s proposed headquarters

SAINT JOHN - Preparations on the Long Wharf property, where Irving Oil Ltd. intends to build its new headquarters, will begin this week to take advantage of the short summer construction window, company spokeswoman Lesley MacLeod says.

                                   

A worker uses a blowtorch Wednesday on a test pile that has been driven into Long Wharf. The purpose of the procedure, part of pre-construction work for Irving Oil's new headquarters, is to help determine the specific rock composition below the surface of the asphalt.

This pre-construction work will include driving test piles into the site to help determine the specific rock composition below the surface of the asphalt.

In accordance with city's noise bylaws, construction equipment will be operated between the hours of 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., MacLeod said.

In addition to driving test piles, Irving Oil will also have fencing, work trailers, fill and additional scaffolding on-site over the summer months and into the fall.

"There are a number of steps that need to take place before the construction of the building can proceed," MacLeod said.

The company is not assuming the rezoning and amendments to the municipal plan needed for the project will be approved, she said. The work beginning this week is required in order to plan effectively for any future construction on the site.

"This is just due diligence work that needs to be done to the site so that we know what we are working with," she said.

The work being carried out during the summer months will have no impact on those using Harbour Passage.

"All the work being done this summer will be inside the confines of the Long Wharf site, within the area that is already fenced in," MacLeod said.

City planning commissioner Ken Forrest said the city is having discussions with the company on the amendments that need to be made to the municipal plan and the zoning bylaw for the project to go ahead.

"But the applications haven't formally started working forward into the process," Forrest said. "We are going back and forth on the details of the application and that kind of thing."

Once the application is received at City Hall, it will have to go to the planning advisory committee for a hearing, with notification to the public, and then go through three readings and votes at common council before becoming law, he said.

Long Wharf was always federal port land, designated for transportation in the municipal plan.

"There is a lot of detail to go through as that land goes out of port land and into potentially urban, commercial development," he said.

A plan amendment takes three to four months, once it is ready to go, and it is not at that stage yet, he said.

The proposal by Irving Oil envisions developing the site in three phases. Phase one could begin this year.

It would include construction of a new office building, approximately 185,000 square feet in area, to meet Irving Oil's need for additional office space. The plan also includes the development of a secondary cruise ship berth and infrastructure to support the cruise ship industry, including a welcome area for passengers, bus parking and vendor space.

The first phase would also include new public spaces such as walkways, trails, green space and park bench areas to allow the public to enjoy the area surrounding Long Wharf.

Phase two includes construction of a more formal entrance onto the site to allow easy access for pedestrians and movement of vehicles, including tour buses for cruise ship passengers.

Phase three is only a possibility. It includes adding more office space depending on demand and market conditions. It would include additional landscaping at Long Wharf slip with the potential for a naturalized edge on the west portion of the property.

Published Thursday May 7th, 2009 - Telegraph Journal