Lanarkist

Demolition process moves ahead for Smiths Falls water treatment plant burned by fire

The water treatment plant at 25 Old Mill Road in Smiths Falls was burned by fire in May 2023. It will soon be demolished, but first, a list of salvageable items will be created by the heritage committee and town council. – Laurie Weir photo

The delay of the demolition of the former water treatment plant in Smiths Falls has to do with the salvageable bits.

Both the Municipal Heritage Committee and Smiths Falls town council are working on a list of parts they wish to save from the four buildings included in the site eyed for demolition at 25 Old Mill Road after a fire ripped through it in May 2023.

There are two commemorative plaques, as well as decorative brickwork, arched openings, remaining windows and doors, corner quoins (mason blocks on corners), façade stone, stone sills, a date stone, and entrance extrusion with masonry columns and piers, on the list of items to be saved.

These pieces “provide the best value for potential re-use in a new project,” noted Karl Grenke, manager of development services, in his report to council on June 10.

It is the wish of the heritage committee that prior to demolition, all cultural heritage resources be removed and documented through an assessment for archival purposes with a history, photographic record and measured drawings, including the use of photogrammetry in accordance with industry standards, Grenke’s report states.

They would also like to see council establish the appropriate planning tools at the time of the sale of the land or its future development to establish an expectation that new development is appropriately sympathetic to the heritage context of this area and appropriately re-uses material in a manner that is consistent with heritage best practices.

The Municipal Heritage Committee would also like to be consulted and given the opportunity to provide feedback on the design of any new building before it is finalized.

Mayor Shawn Pankow said he wouldn’t like to see a lot of the heritage brick that is centuries old go into the landfill, recognizing that there are “hundreds of homes in our community that would have similar brick.” The mayor indicated those homeowners may wish to capitalize on some of this heritage brick for their own home, if needed.

“I’m not suggesting we recover all the brick,” he said but a certain number of them because “I think if REAL Deal would be able to host these on site this would be a great resource for our community … maybe it could be a fundraiser for REAL as well.”

Coun. Peter McKenna said he doesn’t want to take a step back by saving everything. He wanted to stick with the recommendation by the heritage committee and staff.

Council agreed with the staff recommendation with a friendly amendment to save some of the brick – “not all” – but whatever seemed practical.

It is the hope of staff to get moving on the tender process for demolition as soon as possible.


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