Heritage Theatre block demolition planned to revamp downtown Brampton

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Published February 22, 2024 at 12:53 pm

Brampton’s century-old Heritage Theatre and over a dozen other buildings could be coming down as the city is looking to breathe new life into the downtown.

Brampton City Council is expected to sign off on a $6 million budget amendment to hire a demolition firm to tear down properties on Main Street north of Queen Street.

Many of the properties are in rough shape and some share common load-bearing walls, meaning the “most cost-effective method for their demolition is to demolish all buildings at the same time,” according to a new report.

The report was received by a committee of council on Wednesday and will be sent to Brampton City Council for final approval.

Most of the buildings are “not structurally sound” and only four are currently occupied, according to the report. A few are listed as heritage properties including the Heritage Theatre, while at least four others are currently privately owned and will need to be purchased by the city prior to demolition.

The building at 30 Main St. North is in particularly rough shape “due to ongoing concerns with its mechanical and electrical systems, building envelope, and roof, which exhibits a pronounced sag, and general state of disrepair,” the report reads.

RELATED: Homes ‘in significant disrepair’ could come off Brampton’s heritage register

News of the proposed demolitions came as a surprise to Peeyush Gupta, owner of The Wee Smoke Shop at 65 Main St. North, who said he only learned about the plan through the news.

He says the store has been a smoke shop dating back to the 1850s and is located inside one of the city-owned heritage properties with a five-year lease from the city.

And while Gupta says he supports the demolitions if they will lead to the redevelopment of downtown Brampton, he wants the city to work with displaced business owners on relocation or give them first dibs on new retail spaces.

“If demolishing the building is a necessity for the redevelopment of downtown Brampton then I support that,” he told Insauga.com. “I understand development has to come…but it should be properly planned.”

The city has already spent over $1 million on structural assessments, and the report says some of the buildings sit above the abandoned underground Etobicoke Creek channel.

The province recently announced plans to kickstart the Hurontario LRT project with plans to extend into downtown Brampton and connect to the Brampton Innovation District GO station just blocks from the demolition site.

“No project downtown we were able to complete without dealing with this. And so we’ve now dealt with it,” Mayor Patrick Brown told CBC, calling the situation “a headache.”

The report says Brampton’s Heritage Board would need to sign-off on an impact assessment before tearing down several buildings which are on the city’s register.

While the new plan could see the Heritage Theater destroyed, the city is still actively seeking offers for its restoration and says it will be moving ahead with improvements to Garden Square, including an urban square, park, more benches, patio seating, planters and a gazebo.

On top of the $6 million budget shuffle, council is expected to ask city staff to speed up efforts to acquire the remaining properties located at 22–28, 48, and 52 Main Street North.

Originally known as the Capitol Theatre, the Heritage Theatre was built in 1922 and opened on February 28, 1923.

The theatre was used for the presentation of vaudeville acts and silent films with admission at just 30 cents for adults and 15 cents for children.

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