FREDERICTON -- A natural gas leak forced the evacuation of government offices and some downtown Fredericton businesses for about three hours Wednesday.

Construction crews working on the Centennial Building on King Street hit a natural gas line shortly before 9 a.m. local time.

A strong smell of gas could be detected throughout the downtown and city police asked people to avoid the area, but shortly after noon they said the gas leak was under control and the evacuation lifted.

Gilles Cote, sergeant-at-arms at the provincial legislature, said mid-morning that all offices within the legislative precinct had been evacuated.

A legislature committee meeting and a scheduled, second-quarter fiscal update were both cancelled because of the leak.

Enbridge Gas crews were able to cut off the gas supply while repairs were made.