Conference centre hotel will miss permit deadline

NANAIMO – SSS Manhao is not expected to get a building permit before the application expires.

The multimillion-dollar conference centre hotel isn’t expected to meet its building permit deadline, but the project isn’t dead, according to Mayor Bill McKay.

SSS Manhao and its architect have indicated to the City of Nanaimo that it will not meet the deadline for its building permit application this December, which was needed in order to begin construction of a 21-storey conference centre hotel.

The project was initially anticipated to get underway in October, after SSS Manhao announced the construction phase of the hotel with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in August. But the company has not filed the necessary paperwork to break ground.

Tom Weinreich, the city’s manager of building inspections, told the News Bulletin the developers didn’t have a lot left to submit, but now face new and more onerous building code requirements if they reapply after Dec. 17. He said it sounds like the developers intend to wait until the spring to reapply.

“We have been waiting months and months and months … it’s kind of like pushing on a rope, you know, everybody wanted the project to go ahead but it just didn’t seem like there was enough impetus on the other end to actually just get the work done and finish it off,” he said.

McKay, who has spoken to senior staff and the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation about the project, says the delay is caused by design changes the company is looking to make, which requires a new building permit.

“When they came to us their biggest expectation was they wanted to get going and they wanted to make sure that the message was loud and clear to us that they did not want us delaying their process and then to see this change, came as a wee bit of a surprise,” he said.

“Having said that, now is the time to do it.  If you want to make some slight design changes and it’s going to delay you, well, you are the ones that are creating the delay, not us.”

He said people are trying to read “all kinds of different things into it,” but this is not the end of the project. “They are just in the beginning phases and making sure when you are building a project of this magnitude that you get it right the first time, is so critically important.”