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Ihtoli-maqahamok - The Gathering Space has been unveiled as the official name for the redeveloped space in and around Fundy Quay in Saint John. Image: Submitted/City of Saint John

Saint John waterfront redevelopment faces delays

By Brad Perry Dec 18, 2023 | 2:00 PM

The redeveloped space along Saint John’s waterfront will not be ready by year’s end as initially planned.

City officials say the $20-million project will take a few months longer than they first expected.

Utilities and Infrastructure Commissioner Ian Fogan said crews have run into some challenges along the way.

“They uncovered a ductwork that they didn’t know existed. There were contaminated materials on sites that they didn’t know existed,” Fogan said during an update to council last week.

The redeveloped waterfront space will be known as Ihtoli-maqahamok, which means “The Gathering Space” in Wolastoqey.

Once completed, it will include a skating rink, patios, a new stage, a space for craft and food vendors, and access to the waterfront.

Fogan said the initial vision was to have open-air patios but they have since decided to install year-round glassed-in patios. That required a redesign, an HVAC addition and a connection to Market Square.

He said the patios will be ready for next year’s summer season, with the scheduled completion date set for April.

Fogan said the skating surface is completed and the ice plant is being installed in the basement of the stage building.

However, the surface area is needed as a lay-down for the new patio structures, which were due to arrive last week, meaning it will not open until next winter.

Fogan said the amphitheatre and Harbour Passage upgrades are in progress. Certain components have been delayed for better weather, such as planting and painting.

This component requires coordination with the Fundy Quay construction due to cranes in the area, he said.

Construction is underway on the tidal steps and Market Slip, although Fogan said they did run into some challenges with underground infrastructure and working around tide cycles.

Some redesign has been required, he noted. For example, the seawall rebuild has narrowed the slip slightly, meaning the existing city docks do not fit. They will either get a new system or reconfigure the existing one.

Fogan said the goal is to have the tidal steps and Market Slip completed by May.

When it comes to the stage, the city is working with the boardwalk restaurants to on a vision that could draw some major events a few times a year.

Fogan said they may need to add some components back into the contract, such as screens, Wi-Fi, cameras, heating and a green room.

Overall, Fogan said there have been some budget impacts, but the city is mitigating those costs.

“At this point, we don’t foresee coming back to council to ask for any additional funding from the city,” he said.

Coun. David Hickey questioned whether there is any room to compensate the restaurants that have dealt with the impacts of COVID and construction over the past few years.

Fogan said while the city does not currently have that type of program, it is working with the restaurants to develop “favourable terms in the lease agreement” that may help them cover.

“We are keenly aware that they were impacted by COVID and then this construction project. That’s part of why we’re spending some time around the stage component,” he said.

“If their vision comes to life where they can have some large events and people there all the time, hopefully they’ll be able to recover.”