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Hamilton councillor seeks stricter rules for demolishing industrial buildings

A building on the former Hamilton Specialty Bar site was demolished on Sept. 30 and sent a massive dark dust cloud into the air, spreading throughout north Hamilton neighbourhood. Smash Salvage on Instagram (filmed by Patrick Ferguson)

The province is being asked to impose stricter rules around the demolition of commercial and industrial buildings.

A motion presented by Ward 3 councillor Nrinder Nann, and approved by Hamilton’s planning committee, seeks policy changes in response to the demolition of a former industrial building on Sherman Avenue North.

Read more: Demolition of old Hamilton Specialty Bar building results in massive dust cloud

Nann notes that the Sept. 30, 2019 incident, covered several, east end neighbourhoods in black soot, when the wind carried dust and debris a “considerable distance” from the former steelmaking site.

She says the soot was deposited on homes, cars, gardens, outdoor furniture and playground equipment throughout the affected communities.

Despite the fact that the company, American Iron and Metal (AIM), was in full compliance with its demolition permit, Nann says residents were “shocked and scared” by the incident, with no advanced warning of the demolition, no knowledge of its immediate health implications and very little guidance of how to deal with the aftermath.

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Nann’s motion asks the province for a wide-ranging expansion of demolition requirements including mandatory notification to all neighbours of the date and time, a list of any contaminants that could enter the air, water and soil and their potential health impacts.

Nann says Ward 3 residents, already burdened with chronic exposure to airborne emissions, “need every effort to be made to prevent further degradation” of their air quality.

Read more: Adverse health affects from Hamilton demolition dust cloud ‘unlikely’: city

The Ministry of the Environment’s testing of the massive dust cloud, which resulted from the September 2019 demolition, ultimately found that it was “unlikely” to result in any “adverse long-term health outcomes.”

Associate Medical Officer of Health Bart Harvey told Global News the particles in question, consistent with ordinary minerals and metals found in a simple dirt sample, were too big to be deeply inhaled by typical human lungs.

“These particles are so large that they would get caught up in the mucous lining of the nose and the throat and essentially would be sneezed out or coughed out,” said Harvey.

Click to play video: 'Old Hamilton Specialty Bar building on Sherman Avenue North demolished' Old Hamilton Specialty Bar building on Sherman Avenue North demolished
Old Hamilton Specialty Bar building on Sherman Avenue North demolished – Sep 30, 2019

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