Burned-out Hamilton building is to be torn down, reducing pedestrian hazard


Published March 3, 2023 at 3:26 pm

There is some indication that pedestrians in downtown Hamilton will not have to pass within practically an arm’s length of oncoming cars when they pass a building that was gutted by fire just before Christmas.

Since the vacant building at 168 King St. E. was gutted in a multiple alarm blaze on Dec. 19, fencing has been in place that takes up the majority of the sidewalk. The damage is covered by a wooden façade, and the fencing pushes anyone walking on the south side of King E. to within feet of westbound cars on an one-way street.

But the building’s owner had applied for a demolition permit last summer, and Ward 2 Coun. Cameron Kroetsch indicated that more of the sidewalk will be available when the teardown begins.

“According to City staff, and the owner’s engineer, there are some bits of wooden facade that could come loose and fall,” Kroetsch wrote in a social media post. “The fencing has to be out this far to ensure that there’s no potential harm to pedestrians. But a solution is coming – the owner has applied for a demolition permit. During demolition, the fence will be moved closer to the building.”

The building owner filled a NOID — notice of intention to demolish — was filed with the City of Hamilton last summer. It was also supported by a CHIA — a cultural heritage impact assessment prepared by a consultant. The 1872-vintage buildings were listed as “non-designated properties” with the city, which means they are not protected by the Ontario Heritage Act and can be torn down with 60 days’ notice.

“Cultural Heritage Planning staff concur with the findings (of the CHIA) that the subject properties have very limited physical or design value and do not make a significant contribution to the adjacent portions of King Street East,” a report reads.

Kroetsch noted in a tweet that no one had objected to seeing the 2½-storeys buildings torn down.

The report from last July noted the owner intends to “salvage the carved stone blocks from the roof parapets and undertake the installation of an interpretive display to mitigate the loss of CHVI” — cultural heritage value or interest — “through demolition of the buildings.”

Friday marked 74 days since the fire had occurred.

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