It was a case of hit the pause button Tuesday at the Elgin County Courthouse as the Sutherland Press building saga entered a new year.
A scheduled hearing between the City of St. Thomas and David McGee, owner of the four-storey structure, failed to get off the ground when his lawyer, Valerie M’Garry, was unable to attend due to illness.
McGee is challenging an unsafe building order issued Oct. 28 by the city that gave him until Dec. 15 of last year to provide a detailed work plan and schedule repairs to begin by next Monday at the boxy tribute to the city’s industrial era.
The work order covers remediation of spalling or damaged bricks and securing the southwest corner of the roof which suffered a partial collapse more than a year ago.
In response to the request for a postponement by M’Garry’s office manager Ian Nielsen, Judge Thomas Heeney said the turn of events “is regrettable” and added “this needs to go on ASAP.”
He asked John Sanders, the city’s legal counsel, whether the public is in any immediate danger.
Sanders advised the existing barriers on Moore Street are “very adequate,” however “there is minimal protection on the main street (Talbot Street). It is not a pleasant situation.”
He added, “This is the time of year when there is a concern with the snow load.”
Speaking to the Times-Journalon Wednesday, city manager Wendell Graves stressed, “He (McGee) has to produce a plan to make the building safe and he hasn’t . . . It’s a continuing concern for us.”
In an interview last November, M’Garry said the lack of specificity with regard to repairs mandated by the city, combine with the unreasonable time frame to complete those repairs resulted in a situation that is “just not realistic.”
The hearing is now tentatively scheduled for Feb. 13, although it could be moved forward should an earlier court date open up.
On a second front, the city is appealing a Sept. 27 decision at the Elgin County Courthouse in which a notice issued in March of last year warning of demolition of the structure for failure to comply with a work order was declared null and void by Justice Kelly Gorman.
She ruled the notice was improperly delivered to McGee and the work order lacked specificity.
That appeal will be heard Feb. 7 in Toronto.
Visit us on FacebookFollow @ianscityscope