Dodging the wrecker’s ball . . . again

Proving to have more lives than the proverbial cat, the Sutherland Press building appears to have dodged the wrecker’s ball one more time.

Toronto owner David McGee has advised city hall he is not prepared to demolish the four-storey structure and, instead, is proceeding to stabilize the building that dates back to around 1910.

After a partial roof collapse discovered Sept. 11, the city hired a structural engineer to update staff on measures needed to minimize risk to the public until the future of the building – a significant example of the city’s early industrial heritage – could be determined.

Those included the closing of Moore St. for a short stretch south of Talbot St., blocking the sidewalk in front of the building and temporarily moving operations out of the transit centre located immediately to the east.

Speaking to the Times-Journal on Tuesday, city manager Wendell Graves advised McGee has retained an engineer to provide drawings related to stabilizing derelict building.

“Chris Peck, our chief building official, is reviewing those drawings and we are acting as quickly as we can on our side to respond back to those,” explained Graves. “It does look like he has a plan in place to shore it up.”

Asked who will determine if the remedial efforts will suffice Graves advised, “Anything can be done for any amount of money. If he (McGee) is going to invest what it takes to shore it up then certainly (city) engineering would support that. It’s just following through on the investment and performance.”

Graves confirmed shoring up the building includes protection from the elements.
“That’s what we understand, yes. Shoring up the inside and protecting the roof level from the elements.”

McGee originally planned to convert the building into condominiums but revised the game plan to senior’s apartments.

No updated plans have been submitted to the city at this stage.

“Not that we have seen,” noted Graves. “Our primary cause was to do something with the emergency situation of the building. It’s in his court at the moment and his engineer’s court to get rid of that risk.”

While work commenced Monday, Graves said no time frame has yet been established for remediation.

“That’s one thing I have not had a chance to connect with our chief building official on in terms of getting a better understanding on the timelines. But they started yesterday (Monday) and they are supposed to be there this week working on it.”

In May of this year, then city engineer John Dewancker told the Times-Journal a report from McGee’s structural engineer several years ago required a biannual inspection be undertaken to ensure the building’s integrity.

“So we are reminding him when the time comes that it’s time to re-engage for an inspection and a report. So from a due diligence point of view, there is a requirement for the owner to refresh the engineering inspection for safety.”

At that time, Dewancker noted McGee was fulfilling that requirement, “subject to being reminded.”

Graves is uncertain at this time as to whether that requirement will remain in effect.
“We will have to evaluate that in terms of what he ends up with at the end of this. What I understand is happening is this shoring is temporary in nature, it’s not permanent. There will have to be a Plan B after this shoring is in place.”

McGee did not return several calls from the Times-Journal.

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