Historic courthouse in Niagara Falls will be demolished

It turns out the old courthouse in Niagara Falls will be demolished after all.

During the council meeting this week, Shayne Chesney from Ontario Environment & Safety Network Ltd. outlined the current condition of the building. "We've got lead, we've got asbestos, we've got mercury, we've got mould. The conditions could cause imminent health response in people. You would go in, you would leave, and you would not be able to breathe."

The pictures accompanying Chesney's presentation provided a startling glimpse into what has happened to the former courthouse over the years.

Experts estimated an abatement cost of $1,160,000 to $2,320,000.

When asked how the building was allowed to get to such a point of disrepair, Niagara Falls CAO Ken Todd pointed out the building has been unoccupied for more than 20 years. "It just got to the point where if you're not in there and paying attention to it on a daily basis and you're not spending money - and to try to justify spending a lot of money on, at that time, an empty building that we really weren't using when we had other buildings that needed to be fixed was pretty hard to justify. I can say it looks like the building has gotten significantly worse over the last 2 or 3 years. To the point where, quite frankly, I don't think any of our staff has been in there in the last year and half perhaps, just because it's at a condition where it's not environmentally safe to go in there."

Although council ultimately decided the building must come down, Councillor Chris Dabrowski offered up an option to preserve some history. "I would like to preserve at least a piece of the original facade, whether we create a cornerstone out of it. I would like to preserve the plaque that's out front of the old city hall as well."

Almost 2,000 residents signed a petition asking council to save the historic building that also once served as city hall.

The Queen Street building dates back to 1866.

 

courtesy City of Niagara Falls Council Agenda (Ontario Environment & Safety Network Ltd. presentation)

courtesy City of Niagara Falls Council Agenda (Ontario Environment & Safety Network Ltd. presentation)

courtesy City of Niagara Falls Council Agenda (Ontario Environment & Safety Network Ltd. presentation)