WINNIPEG – What hides beneath the barricades on Albert Street has a lot of people concerned the sidewalk and road could suddenly fall in. Photos obtained by Global News show a widening gap and crumbling cement but there are no immediate plans for repairs.
Two weeks ago, pylons and temporary barricades surrounded a three foot wide and six foot long sinkhole but people could still walk on the sidewalk in front of the St. Charles Hotel.
The next day, more pylons went up and now a six foot high fence closes the sidewalk and one lane of traffic on Albert and Notre Dame.
“I would say it’s because the building is vacant and I think our biggest concern is having vacant and derelict buildings that shut off their heat in winter,” said Cindy Tugwell with Heritage Winnipeg.
The St. Charles Hotel is deemed a heritage building but has sat empty for nine years. Photos taken underground show a void between the basement wall of the hotel and the sidewalk.
The city wouldn’t provide an on-camera interview but a resident who contacted 311 shared the city’s response via an email, with a spokesperson writing:
“The wall has crumbled in slightly allowing the earth under the sidewalk to wash away into the basement of this building creating the void that we are currently dealing with.”
Going on to say they can’t fix the gap.
“If they try to fill the hole with concrete, it may pour into the basement of the hotel and the City would then be liable for damages.”
The owner of the hotel says two weeks ago he had no idea there was a problem here, now he’s hired his own engineers to find out what happened. He denies he’s to blame.
“What you’re doing is creating urban blight in a national historic site and that’s a disgrace,” said Tugwell, who predicts the building will have to be demolished.