Ontario Construction News staff writer
Metrolinx is preparing to contract for the demolition of 21 vacant properties along the site originally planned for Hamilton’s cancelled Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, a measure that has resulted in outrage among local affordable housing advocates.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) reports that the transit agency is demolishing the buildings “for safety’s sake.” Work will begin in the fall to reduce fire risk and “other potential hazards.”
Budget Demolition has been awarded the contract and, pending permit approval, it’s set to begin in fall 2020 and be completed by early 2021, the broadcaster reported.
The transit agency says the status of another approximately 40 properties on the route is undecided, because possible future development or ownership plans have yet to be determined.
Advocates and tenants have called for the vacant buildings to be turned into affordable housing.
Sharon Miller, who still lives in a Metrolinx-owned duplex along King Street East, said Friday (Sept. 11) that the buildings between her and one of her few remaining neighbours will be pulled down, something she sees as an effort to get them to leave.
“A lot of the these buildings could be used for housing,” CBC quoted her as saying, adding that if she’s eventually forced to leave she believes she’ll end up living on the street. “I sit on pins and needles every day,” she said.
Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins told the broadcaster that that no residents living in homes owned by the agency are being asked to leave, as long as they remain in good standing.”We completely appreciate that this is a very difficult time for a lot of people given the pandemic,” she said.
At present, seven of the 60 or so properties that Metrolinx owns are occupied by residents, and five are being rented as commercial sites.
The provincial government cancelled the multi-billion Hamilton LRT project last December. A Transportation Task Force is reviewing options about how to spend the $1 billion that the provincial government had originally allocated for an alternative transit project.
“Metrolinx officials note vacant structures can become safety hazards, prone to vandalism and break-ins, no matter what efforts are in place to secure them,” says a Metrolinx news release.