728 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2020
to our landlord representatives, starting in December 2019. We followed up
in each of January, February, and April. However, other than advice (in
January) that the landlord representatives would “need to discuss this with
my team and also likely have a look at the market, as I really don’t know how
we go about pricing this sort of space. Let me get back to you.”, we heard nothing
further until a conference call convened by you, on behalf of the landlord
in early May. At that time, we were informed that the decision had
already been made not to renew the lease and that the matter was not open
for discussion. It has also become clear from subsequent conversations with
our landlord representatives that the decision had been made much earlier,
yet we were not given the courtesy of receiving timely notice, and had no
input into the decision. We question the optics of this lack of consultation
with stakeholders, given the intended new purpose.
Furthermore, while we do not doubt that the Province or its Ministries
require more office space right now, leaving aside all of the above considerations,
we question the business case for the landlord’s assertion that it is
better to repurpose this space for offices, than to rent elsewhere in the
downtown core. In particular, any such business case needs to take into
account the fit-out cost, that only around ¾ of the demised square footage
is actually usable office space, and the inefficiencies incumbent in changing
that space into offices. In addition, there is the anticipated drop in
demand for office space as a result of a shift to more working-from-home
following the COVID restrictions, coupled with new office space coming on
line within the next 12 to 24 months.3 Respectfully, while prior to the
COVID impact, there may have been a business case for focusing exclusively
on the rent differential between the current use and the landlord’s
planned use, we question whether that still exists.
In closing, we implore you to reconsider and reverse this generational decision,
before it is too late.
The Lawyers Inn Society is ready to negotiate a new lease and deal with the
rental arrears, so that we may move forward into the next 40 years, as custodians
of the restaurant, continuing to improve the space for the public and
the legal profession, while rendering rental income to the Province for the
privilege of doing so.
We look forward to commencing a dialogue with you on this.
President, The Lawyers Inn Society