Concerned citizens in Brockville, Ont., are fighting to save a historic downtown building from the wrecking ball as an important decision is fast approaching.
Tucked away on the corner of Water and Market streets in downtown Brockville, right behind city hall, is a nearly 100-year-old former residential building.
Following a Brockville city council decision earlier this year, the structure is set to meet the wrecking ball to make way for future development — a decision that hasn’t sat well with some residents.
One of them is Bob Runciman, a veteran Canadian politician and former senator, who said more input is needed.
“A lot of citizens are concerned about it. Citizens have not been involved in the decision with respect to whether this building should be saved or demolished,” he said.
On the other side of the argument, Brockville city councillor Jeff Earle said they simply can’t justify spending potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the building to address issues identified in an engineering report.
“For one building standing alone like that, I just don’t believe there’s value in it,” said Earle.
Some residents have expressed concern that the building is being demolished to serve as a parking lot and nothing more but Phil Wood, director of operations for the City of Brockville, disputed that.
“We are not demolishing buildings to make parking. We are making parking on this location for the time being, due to the fact that the buildings need to be demolished,” Wood said in a statement.
Runciman, who lived down the block from the building for 18 years, isn’t convinced demolition is the right move.
“Their justification is that it’s going to cost too much, after neglecting it for eight or nine or 10 years and not putting any real money into it. That’s too often an excuse for governments to make these kinds of decisions,” he added.
In the end, Runciman simply says that he wants the people of Brockville to be more involved in the decision with the building, while Earle says it will cost too much to save. Brockville council will make a decision on whether or not to stay the decision at a special meeting next week.