Too Soon to Decide What's Next for Leamington's Big Tomato

A structural engineer has been called in to review the deteriorating structure of Leamington's Big Tomato. 

As heard first on AM800 News on Tuesday, the iconic Tomato Visitor Information Booth has been closed after it was found to be in a "state of disrepair."

Mayor Hilda MacDonald says the ceiling had visible damage and mold was detected in some areas, and it's not safe for their volunteers. 

MacDonald tells AM800 News a structural engineer has been called in to assess what it will take to patch things up, but she's confident there's nothing to worry about.

"For now, until we have a report from a structural engineer who gives us a condition assessment so there really isn't any need for fear at this point in time," she says. "We just need to see what the condition is and what it will take."

The tourism centre and attraction is operated by the town and the Leamington and District Chamber of Commerce. 

It will be the first summer in nearly 60-years that the 'Big Tomato' won't be open to kick off the spring and summer tourism season. 

Some residents in the community fear the symbol of the town's main industry would be destroyed -- but MacDonald suggests people steer clear of "coffee shop rumours."

"It's such an iconic symbol of our community that any hint of something different happening strikes fear in the hearts of our residents and it's completely unnecessary at this point in time," added MacDonald. "It's not something that we're going to do without public consultation, so, until we know more we're just in a holding pattern."

MacDonald is unsure of the exact opening date of the tourist centre, but the archive at the University of Windsor's Leddy Library has photo's dating back to May of 1961.

The municipality is also looking at how to effectively deliver visitor information services, which may focus on the use of mobile technology to fill the gap for the 2019 season.

— with files from AM800's Rob Hindi