The Muskrat Falls Inquiry will have office and hearing space available in the Beothuck Building in St. John’s.
At the end of December, cabinet green-lit the Department of Justice to enter into a two-year lease agreement with Beothuck Investments for the space. The start date was New Year’s Day.
The department is committing $292,700 from the 2018-19 budget and $219,500 from the 2019-20 budget to cover the lease.
EDITORIAL: Inquiry tally
According to information provided Thursday, the inquiry staff will have 8,671 square feet of space on the building’s third floor and 2,585 square feet of space on the fifth floor.
The space was previously occupied by other government agencies. The Labour Relations Board and Human Rights Commission have been relocated to the Natural Resources Building on Elizabeth Avenue.
Meanwhile, the province is ready to bankroll early inquiry costs. In another piece of business before the holidays, there was an Order in Council for the transfer of up to $1.57 million from the Department of Justice and Public Safety’s contingency reserve budget. The money is for any Muskrat Falls Inquiry needs to March 31 and the next provincial budget.
A notice from the Commission of Inquiry Respecting the Muskrat Falls Project Order on Dec. 18 stated Justice Richard LeBlanc was already started on the foundation for the work ahead — establishing a basic organization and hiring needed staff.
A chief administrative officer and additional administrative staff have been hired, and the commissioner has appointed co-counsel: Kate O’Brien and Barry Learmonth.
An official inquiry website has been promised with more information for the public.