Ottawa OKs Long Wharf deal - Development Government gives Irving Oil approval for 99-year lease
SAINT JOHN - A 99-year lease of Long Wharf to Irving Oil Ltd. has been approved by the federal government, paving the way for the company to build its $30-million world headquarters on the waterfront.
Saint John MP Rodney Weston says the approval for Irving Oil Ltd. to lease Long Wharf for 99 years means ‘it's one step closer to ensuring there will be a $30-million investment in this community.'
Saint John MP Rodney Weston received word from Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird on Thursday.
"We've got it," Weston said Thursday afternoon.
"The federal approvals are in place for the Long Wharf project to proceed. This is huge. It's one step closer to ensuring there will be a $30-million investment in this community."
Securing the Long Wharf leasing deal was one of four election promises Weston made.
"I'm excited. This one's done," he said.
"I was pleased to be able to call the Irvings and tell them and I was pleased to be able to let (port board chairman) Stephen Campbell know."
The leasing arrangement is a crucial step in developing Long Wharf.
"This has been a hurdle," he said. "If anybody wanders through the bureaucracy, they know it's no small feat."
The deal would also see Irving Oil hand over the former Lantic Sugar site, which it has a tentative deal to buy from the city for $1.2 million, for a section of Long Wharf where its new headquarters would be built, while it leases the rest of the wharf for 99 years.
Weston declined to divulge any other lease details.
The MP said his pitch to the federal minister hinged on the fact that no federal dollars were needed.
"We have a private company looking to invest $30 million in our community and all we needed was to receive the federal approvals to proceed. It's an opportunity to put dollars into the economy that aren't generated by the government."
Weston said he was not provided with a project timeline but added that the Irvings are "anxious" to get going.
"From the federal end of it, this is us doing our part to make sure this project moves," Weston said.
"I said I was going to do something and I've been able to deliver on it."
Irving Oil has outgrown its office space on Union Street and wants to construct a new building to bring together about 1,000 employees in the uptown. At an open house in January the company announced it is looking at a phased development of the Long Wharf site, based on needs.
Plans revealed at that time showed a low-rise structure about four storeys high. If the business needs more space in the future, there is room on the Long Wharf site to put up another low rise beside it.
Phase one of the project would also include the development of a secondary cruise ship berth and infrastructure to support Saint John's cruise ship industry, such as a welcome area for passengers, bus parking and vendor space. There would also be new public spaces such as walkways, trails, green space and park bench areas.
The building has been designed with the natural landscape of Saint John in mind.
The proposal includes disguising the flatness of the wharf by bringing in enough earth to create some contour to the land and provide the ability to section off the wharf front for security reasons when it is used by cruise ships.
Published Friday April 10th, 2009 Telegraph Journal