Rubble of Welland House Hotel in St. Catharines one step closer to clean-up

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Published November 17, 2021 at 10:14 am

St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik, right, speaks to firefighters who put out the Welland House Hotel fire.

It looks like the stand-off between St. Catharines and the owner of the Welland House Hotel has ended.

Although reluctant for the longest time, the owner of the property, a numbered company in the Vaughan area, has finally submitted a heritage preservation plan – a necessity before anything could be cleaned up on the site.

All that remains of 165-year-old hotel with a prestigious history in the city is a 10-foot-high pile of rubble after a July fire gutted the five-storey building.

The cause of the fire is still shrouded in mystery. After several months of investigation, the Ontario Fire Marshall never learned the cause and simply moved along. The Niagara Police were equally stymied in their investigation and also threw in the towel.

Under the Ontario Heritage Act, the owner had to get a heritage permit before the city could issue a clean-up permit. That was a stale-mate for a while as one can’t be issued without the other and the owner was doing their best to get the heritage designation pulled off the property.

The St. Catharines Heritage Committee believes there’s still material among the rubble that can be saved from the pile. It’s also likely that regardless of what the owner wants to build on the hugely valuable downtown tract of land, a plaque commemorating the building’s history will also be erected.

The clean-up is likely to take roughly a month.

(Photo of the July fire taken by St. Catharines MPP Jennie Smith)

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