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Niagara Falls
Thursday, May 30, 2024
Letter: Rotting wood, peeling paint plague Old Town buildings
Reader Greg Hope took these photos of buildings in need of repair downtown. He wonders why nothing is being done to fix the damage.
Reader Greg Hope took these photos of buildings in need of repair downtown. He wonders why nothing is being done to fix the damage.
Reader Greg Hope took these photos of buildings in need of repair downtown. He wonders why nothing is being done to fix the damage.

Dear editor:

I am a newer resident, having lived here for 18 months, and want to express my concerns about the slow disintegration of some downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake storefronts and buildings.

I used to visit here before and I don’t recall the disrepair of buildings to this degree. Many of the storefronts have rotting wood or aggressively peeling paint around windows, doors and siding. It is in many buildings.

Clearly it has taken years to get to this state. I don’t know if it’s the property owner not doing the the maintenance or the business that is supposed to be doing it as part of a lease agreement, but it certainly is being neglected.

What the store owners and businesses are forgetting to realize is that this neglect is seen by every tourist and potential customer walking by. Maybe they come this year, but may think to themselves and tell their friends that this place is going downhill and not worth the visit again?

I am not picking on any stores in particular, but here are a few examples.

The Bank of Montreal building’s window ledges have rotting wood and peeling paint in several places including near the sign. It has been neglected for years.

I am a BMO customer and a few months ago I went in to speak to the manager, but she was busy so I spoke to an employee about how it looks.  She said she never noticed – and I said, “Maybe you work here and just walk by and don’t think about it.”

The building is nice and fancy inside and care has been taken to make sure the customers have a nice place to visit. But what about the presentation outside?

We know BMO cares about its reputation, but somehow in this historic district its business front is looking shabby.

You would think here in NOTL, especially, they would want to get it right. I left my name and number for the manager to call and never heard back. As of a few days ago no repairs had been done.

Other examples: Greaves Jams’ building is missing paint in many areas of the storefront. At the Shiny Company the wood is decaying so badly around the window areas that it appears to be completely gone. I inquired and was told they were hoping to get something done but not in the immediate future.

Even the Shaw ticket office has stucco falling off and missing from the side of the sales office. If you look at the Pillar and Post’s sign at the corner of John and King, it is so rotten it looks like it may fall apart soon.

And the beautiful metal fence around the house there is all rusting as it hasn’t been painted in many years.

I walk my dog in the Commons near Butler’s Barracks and sticking out like a sore thumb is the horrible shape of the two old military buildings there beside the one Parks Canada building that is maintained.

Both buildings are a mess of peeling paint and rotted doors and windows. No doubt animals can get inside.

I asked the manager there why these two buildings are not maintained and he didn’t have a good answer, saying it was too expensive to do a full repair, so they just sit for now.

He said it would cost $4 million to have the buildings brought back, a figure that sounded bizarre to me. This could have been avoided with regular painting and maintenance.

If you let things go, it costs so much more in the end. Again, what must tourists from other countries think? That Canada cannot even preserve its heritage? It is embarrassing.

I am not trying to pick on any specific business because the problems are everywhere. If I notice this, wouldn’t many of the visitors also? And do they speak to their friends and says it’s not worth coming here again?  It really could lead to a slow erosion of tourism.

As a regular reader of The Lake Report, paper I see the people up in arms about many things, such as new builds and how they won’t fit into the character of this beautiful town.

Shouldn’t they and the business owners be concerned about the shape of the downtown core and its disintegration?

Greg Hope

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