Chief Building Official issues Emergency Order to proceed with the demolition of the former Preston Springs Hotel due to imminent public safety risk

Posted on Thursday December 24, 2020

The City’s Chief Building Official has exercised his authority under the Building Code Act to issue an Emergency Order to proceed with the demolition of the vacant building on Fountain Street to ensure public safety.

“Due to the unsafe condition of the structure, approaching winter weather, and the ongoing challenges of securing the property from trespassers, there is an immediate risk to the community,” said Dennis Purcell, the City’s Chief Building Official.

“Unfortunately, it has now come to a point where the structure is unsound and a threat to public safety. Anyone entering the building, including emergency or fire officials, could be placed in peril. Frankly, this is not a risk I am willing to take.”

Under Section 15.10 of the Building Code Act, an Emergency Order, where there is immediate danger, may be made and extends powers to the Chief Building Official to take any measures necessary to terminate the danger.

The building, known as the former Preston Springs Hotel and a designated heritage property under the Ontario Heritage Act, has been boarded up and vacant for over 25 years. The City has endeavored to work with several owners and multiple proposals to restore the troubled building but finding a solution has proved complicated and cost-prohibitive. 

Over the course of that time, there have been significant issues in terms of vandalism, safety, trespassing, and keeping the building secured. These problems have further contributed to the condition of the property.  Numerous public complaints and concerns have been received over the years by the City, Cambridge Fire and the Waterloo Regional Police Service.

Last year, two independent engineering firms, both with heritage experience, determined that the building is in poor condition which will lead to structural failure.  A report in November reiterated these findings and found the property to be unsafe and in an advanced state of deterioration. Fire prevention officers recently issued a Fire Order due to new security breaches at the vacant building.

“We recognize that this building is a community landmark and this decision has not been made lightly,” said Mr. Purcell.  “Cambridge is a city rich with history and architecture and it is always our preference to work with private owners to preserve our past. However, public safety is our first priority and there is no other option but to issue an Emergency Order.

“Every effort has been made to respect the heritage processes but the building continues to deteriorate and present security challenges which will be compounded this winter,” he added. “Preserving heritage is important and valuable to the community but not at the expense of public safety and any further delays to demolishing the building increases the frightening possibility of someone being seriously injured or killed.”

The Order includes further direction to follow a heritage salvage plan to ensure that any historical value left in the building can be saved. The City’s heritage staff will work with the owner to find potential options to pay tribute to the history behind 102 Fountain Street South.

Demolition work is expected to start within the next week.



Primary Media Contact

Susanne Hiller
Director of Corporate Communications
City of Cambridge