Demolition is ongoing at the site of the former Grace Hospital, and while items from the interior of the building were removed last month by the contractor, demolition of the smaller buildings on site is scheduled to begin next week.
According to a municipal press release, the city expects demolition to begin with both the carpentry shop and the boiler room (which includes the iconic smokestack) coming down first.
“It’s just starting now – we’ve been waiting so long, but at least we see that there is action now,” commented Yun Chang, the owner of Skippy’s restaurant which is located across the street from Grace Hospital.
When asked why he thought it took so long for the building to be demolished, Chang chucked and responded, “good question … I think that it’s politics.”
Chang saw a noticeable drop in business when the hospital was first closed, and explained that the derelict building located across the street from his restaurant significantly impacted his ability to make a living.
“I’d like to see some type of shopping mall, in this area around here, we don’t have any grocery stores, [there are] no stores available here,” explained Chang who hopes that new investment in the property will help to spur revitalization.
While many residents were relieved to hear that the province has pledged to provide funding to demolish the property in a joint press conference held by Minister Piruzza and Mayor Francis earlier last month, some voiced their concerns that nothing would get done and that the promises were simply empty gestures.
“It’s relieving to see trucks in there, but I wont believe it’ll be down until I see the last brick driven off,” said Thomas, a Windsorite who didn’t want to give his last name. “It’s a project that’s been mishandled since day one, so I won’t be surprised if it’s screwed up again.”
“A lot of people in this neighbourhood have waited a long time for this day,” stated Mayor Francis at the press event. “This has been an intrusion into their way of life [and] this neighbourhood. We can finally move to bring some normal back to the residents and the neighbours who have had to deal with this for some time.”
The Mayor had proposed a Greek Orthodox multi-use complex which would feature soccer fields, a church, a community centre, and an open concept atrium and patio. The proposed deal would be the result of a land swap which members of the Greek Orthodox community would have to approve.
“[It’s] not a bad idea,” said Chang regarding the proposed facility. “But not just for church, it’s a whole concept for a community … if they do it right, it’ll be great for the area and the Greek community too.”
The city expects demolition to be complete in roughly five months.
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.