Metrolinx will begin tearing down 21 unsafe buildings in Hamilton starting this November

The provincial transit agency has been in contact with the City Manager, to discuss any proposals the City of Hamilton may bring forward related to the 37 other properties owned by the provincial transit agency along the former LRT route.

Metrolinx is going to begin taking down 21 vacant building it owns along King and Main streets in Hamilton, starting next month pending permit approval.

These vacant properties, which were originally purchased by the provincial transit agency for the former LRT project in Hamilton, are creating unsafe conditions in their east-end communities – and so a decision was made to take them down.

Despite the best efforts of Metrolinx and its contractors to secure these sites, they say the buildings are uninhabitable and have been broken in to and vandalized several times.

“In the case of one of the properties, the thieves were so determined they actually chiselled out a section of the brick wall in order to break in,” says Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager of media relations in the region. “It was like a scene out of a Hollywood style heist.”

Once inside, the thieves not only removed materials and items from the property but also cut electrical wires, discharged fire extinguishers and caused other damage to the building.

Metrolinx says among the 21 properties that were selected for demolition this year, there was evidence of some kind of criminal activity, drug use or fire hazards in all of them.

Image shows a door that has been smashed
This building located at 1183 King St. E. is one of the vacant properties that will be taken down along the former LRT route later this Fall. Despite the best efforts of Metrolinx and its property manager, the front door has been kicked down and broken in to and vandalized several times. (Metrolinx photo)

Aikins also explained the state of these buildings did not play a factor in to whether Metrolinx would purchase the properties or not – they were needed in order to widen the street to accommodate the former LRT project; they were purchased with the sole intention of being torn down.

However, despite that, the Metrolinx property management team still did some preliminary cost estimates to determine whether these 21 vacant buildings would be suitable for tenancy.

Initial inspections suggest asbestos, lead and other hazardous building materials are likely present throughout many of the properties. Given the extensive work needed to make them safe, it was anticipated the costs would be too high and prohibitive.

A house is shown with siding coming off the front.
Significant foundational and structural damage can be seen at this vacant property that’s scheduled to be demolished in the coming weeks. (Metrolinx photo)

Notices that inform the community of the pending demolitions are now being delivered to residences and businesses in close proximity of the buildings, and community members will begin seeing contractors preparing the sites in the next few weeks. The deconstruction of the buildings is expected to get underway at the end of November.

Two other buildings will also be demolished – but not until 2021, as part of a separate contract.

Metrolinx is telling residents and businesses near the demolition sites to anticipate increased noise from excavators and other construction equipment between 7am and 7pm on weekdays.

They say the demolition contractors will abide by all City of Hamilton bylaws for dust mitigation to help minimize the impacts of dust. Additionally, a pest management plan is also being implemented. Any abatement of hazardous materials such as asbestos or lead will be dealt with by a licensed contractor and in accordance with provincial regulations. 

Once the work is complete, the sites will be cleared of all debris and backfilled to create a level surface. Where necessary, the properties will also be fenced off and secured.

All buildings and land acquired by Metrolinx will continue to be monitored by property management and security contractors.

Image shows a tractor in front of a property.
An excavator is parked out front of a vacant, uninhabitable property along King St. E. Community members will begin seeing more contractors preparing the 21 sites for demolition in the next few weeks. (Metrolinx photo)

As for the other 37 properties the transit agency owns along the former LRT corridor:  some are still occupied, others will soon be available for short-term commercial lease opportunities, while others have been the subject of discussion within the community.

During the course of those discussions, Metrolinx has said to the City Manager it is willing to listen and consider any proposals the City of Hamilton may bring forward in terms of their future use.

However, what ultimately happens to all of the 60 properties purchased for the former LRT project – depends on if they are required for a future rapid transit project.

Back in April, the Hamilton Transportation Task Force released a public report, recommending three specific higher-order transit projects that allow the Government of Ontario to keep its commitment of $1-billion in capital funding for transportation and transit projects in Hamilton.

They include:

  • Light-Rail Transit;
  • Bus-Rapid Transit; and,
  • Commuter GO Rail.

Metrolinx is now working with Infrastructure Ontario to undertake further technical analysis on the proposed options included in the report.

The provincial transit agency promises to provide updates about the 21 vacant properties as more details become available.

Looking for more information about properties acquired for the former Hamilton LRT project?

Story by Matt Llewellyn, Metrolinx spokesperson and senior advisor, media relations and issues