Property standards must be enforced at Alma College site

Alma College plaque

Alma College plaque

The Alma Advocacy Association has written to the City of St. Thomas to complain about the condition of the property at 96 Moore St., the site of Alma College.

Chief Building Official
St. Thomas City Hall
PO Box 520
St. Thomas, Ontario
December 15, 2008
Re: 96 Moore Street, St. Thomas, Ontario, known as Alma College

Dear Chief Building Official;

We wish to file a complaint regarding the condition of the heritage property at 96 Moore Street, St. Thomas, Ontario.

Our concerns relate to the buildings and structures remaining at 96 Moore and public health and safety hazards.

We would request that your department investigate these conditions and enforce property and health and safety standards. We have particular concerns in regards to the following;

1. The chapel roof has holes exposing the building to the elements. Bricks are falling at the back of the chapel and being chipped away. Eaves troughs and downpipes have been removed.
2. The music building has serious leaks from the roof and bricks are being chipped away from the entrance.
3. The gate needs to be retrieved from grass overgrowth and should be restored for future re-attachment to the existing pillar. There is also another large section of fencing by the dining hall that should be retrieved and safely stored.
4. The former dining hall remains three quarters demolished, without permit, and the old walk in freezer has become a hang out for trespassers and vandals. The dining hall debris must be cleaned up in its entirety.
5. The outdoor amphitheatre is being chipped away at by vandals and is a safety hazard to those who wander the property. Access to the amphitheatre from the McCaig property to the east needs to be blocked off to ebb the flow of trespassers.
6. The debris from the main building should be cleaned up as soon as possible, retaining its foundation and footprint.

We would request that you inspect and investigate said property immediately and move to enforce property standards forthwith.

We look forward to your response,

Suzanne van Bommel
On behalf of
Alma Advocacy Association

One thought on “Property standards must be enforced at Alma College site

  1. I read the attached response (published Jan.3rd, 2009 in the Times-Journal) from the former chief building official in St, Thomas. In my opinion, it is a reflection of the lack of accountability, will and management that has become the order of the day within the inner chambers at city hall.

    The retired chief building official’s suggestion that the mess at the south end of Moore Street should summarily be dumped onto the Alma Advocacy Association and others is a continuation of the perpetual and circuitous journey that the buck travels any time the word accountability, city hall and the mayor’s office are mentioned in the same breath.
    Mr. Foster does not mention that property standards were not enforced to ensure that the owners maintained Alma College or that just before she was destroyed by fire, Alma appeared to be defying gravity from sheer neglect by owners and city officials alike.

    In early March, two months before the blaze, city council overwhelmingly supported the order to demolish Alma College. If the demolition had occurred as scheduled, council had already decided who would foot the bill, the residents of St. Thomas.

    Another potential solution is looming; with the majority of Alma College burnt to the ground, allegedly by two local area teenagers, why not have their parents pay the bill for the cleanup if they are found guilty of the destruction of Alma College? That should keep the buck from stopping anywhere for another year, heck maybe even until the next election. In cosmic circles its called perpetual motion, in layman’s terms it is a complete and utter disgrace.

    At the south end of Moore Street, if you listen carefully you can hear the wind weep and moan through the rubble as if the grand old lady is trapped below the ashes. How many more indignities must she suffer? Our mayor, council and city officials should reflect on the words of the proverb, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”.

    Bill Sandison
    St. Thomas, ON

    Alma’s bucks stop where? – January 3rd, 2009
    Re: “City abdicates on heritage responsibilities” (City Scope, Times-Journal, Dec. 20)
    Apparently Suzanne van Bommel, who represents the Alma Advocacy Association, and others feel that the city in the past and the present is financially responsible for the well-being of Alma. College.
    The property is privately-owned and when the main building was standing, architects and engineers conveyed that $20 million would be required to renovate the building, provided that a viable use could be found for the building.
    Now that the building has been destroyed by fire, Suzanne van Bommel feels that it’s up to the city to expend funds to clear the site and fix the remaining buildings.
    I say to Suzanne van Bommel and others, show the city your money and I’m sure the city would be pleased to expend your funds to clear up the site and fix the remaining buildings, and probably would forward the bill to the property owners on your behalf.
    Jim Foster
    Retired chief building official,
    City of St. Thomas
    London, Ont.

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