Historic downtown building unsafe

Darrell Cole
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Portion of sidewalk closed for fear of falling stone

AMHERST - Concerns over the structural safety of a historic downtown building have led the town to barricade a portion of the sidewalk on Victoria and LaPlanche Streets.

Late last week, Amherst's transportation and public works department placed the barricades around the former police department to protect pedestrians from the risk of falling stone.
"After receiving a report from an engineering consultant that was commissioned by the unsightly premises committee, the decision was made to restrict access to the sidewalk in front of the building," Amherst CAO Greg Herrett said.
"It was done for public safety reasons."
Herrett said the report, completed by Jim Giffin Engineering, pointed out the risk of falling stone from the parapet at the top of the building.
The town has issued an order to the property owner, Tang Dynasty Investments of Halifax, to repair the building's facade within a set period of time.
Staff, he added, has been in communication with the owner of the building and he's hoping the work will be completed as quickly as possible.
The town, he said, does have the authority to act if the property owner does not make the necessary repairs.
"We're asking him to rectify the situation and fix it to the standard mentioned in the engineering report. There was no major structural damage, but there were some issues with water infiltration and stability of the building internally," Herrett said.
If nothing is done with the property, the town can have the work completed and bill it to the tax account.
The building could be among those being looked at by the town through its proposed vacant buildings bylaw that will come up for second reading later this month.
If the bylaw passes, the town would have the power to acquire vacant buildings and resell them or remove them.
At present, the town only has the power to order property owners to fix up their derelict buildings and properties.
The former police station has been vacant for about a decade since the department moved up the street in the mid-1990s.
The building was also used as a youth centre in the late 1990s by the former Project Echo group.

Organizations: Jim Giffin Engineering

Geographic location: AMHERST, Victoria

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Recent comments

  • Glenna-Mae
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    This Historic building needs to be recognized and saved,there is something great about that old stone building that belongs to Amherst itself.Most of the building looks intact. I was born in Amherst and will be deeply disappointed with many others, if this structure is taken down.It will be a reckless decision if this project fails. It looks like our historical downtown buildings are going to disappear one by one. The current museum is chock-full of more than enough fascinating artifacts to fill up another building. Also, a downtown museum would be another tourist attraction to the Main Street area.

  • sparky00
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    I'm with you 2 cents,

    It's been vacant for that long, which means it is probably degraded more than can be seen.As nice as the old buildings are, If it is run down and vacant it does nothing to help the town, so let's move toward the future. Or if it is to be saved, let the heritage group buy it and restore it and they can turn it into a museum.

  • think long term
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Amherst needs to capitalize on its downtown heritage. Charge the current absentee owner for the cost of the repairs.

    You need to give tourists a reason to stop downtown and empty buildings have a negative economic effect on other businesses in the downtown area.

    I always thought it would be great to offer downtown heritage tours of the great buildings in Amherst. Amherst has more than enough great stories to make it a worthwhile activity.

  • Another 2 Cents
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    It has been vacant for almost a decade!

    Build a new modern building that will attract tenants (businesses). I am sure there is a reason why it has been vacant for so long, no one wants their business in it.

    As things get old, you get new things. Lets stir up some economic development here and stop looking backward all the time.