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Mountainview owner optimistic it can be saved 0

MORGAN IAN ADAMS

The Mountainview Hotel may be on borrowed time, as orders against the property from the fire department and the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit could spell the building's demise.

But the building's owner is determined to bring it back up to snuff. Larry Dunn, while hesitant in commenting to the media, says he is looking at the option of creating a subsidized housing project.

"We would have to do a lot of work to it, but there's all kinds of government grants out there," he said. "We're looking at all opportunities."

Back in May, the Collingwood Fire Department issued an order to evict the tenants for health and safety reasons. The problems cited by the fire department included an inoperable fire alarm, breach of fire separations, inoperable emergency lighting, inoperable fire extinguishers, and inadequate exit signs.

The fire department issued a second order in June calling on the owner to properly secure the building to prevent entry; that order has been appealed by Dunn to the Ontario Fire Marshal's Fire Safety Commission.

A ruling from the commission is expected to be handed down in the very near future.

According to the minutes of a June meeting of the town's Heritage Committee, committee members were told the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit will be seeking a demolition permit of the building if it isn't restored to a habitable condition by the owner.

Marina Whelan, the health unit's manager of health hazards, told the E-B the health unit doesn't comment on specific properties, and declined to say if the health unit is even involved with the property.

"The health unit becomes involved in situations where, in our opinion, a health hazard exists or is likely to exist, and that (the owner) must take steps to prevent exposure," said Whelan.

She said an order would be provided to either the occupant or the owner; that order would also be shared with municipal or other government (federal or provincial) ministries, but it was not the health unit's practice to make those orders public unless there was a possibility of public exposure to the health hazard.

The property is on the other side of the line designating the downtown heritage district; that means as long as all the proper documentation is in place, the building department would have to issue a demolition permit.

Deputy chief building official Ron Martin, who is also the resource person for the town's heritage committee, said provincial legislation and the municipality's heritage bylaw only specifies that redevelopment must be compatible with a heritage district.

"Really, other than that, we can just control future development," he said. "If the owners of the property want to demolish it and all the paperwork is in order, we have to issue a demolition permit."

A demolition permit for a property within the heritage district is reviewed by the heritage committee, which then forwards its comments to town council for a final decision.

The only other circumstances that the building department can issue a demolition order for a building within the district is if it is structurally unsound.

Dunn said it would be interesting if any agency attempted to force the demolition.

"They may want it down, but it's quite another matter to take it down," he said. "It's a private building, and nobody is going to take it down except for me."

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