A building that has occupied a key corner in Sudbury for more than 50 years is being torn down.

The demolition of the former Kingsway Hotel, which has been abandoned for about three years, comes as a relief to some.

Deputy fire chief Dave Wickenden said the fire department took over the building when the hydro was cut in 2009.

The people living there had to re-locate and the fire department boarded the place up.

But he said it was a battle to keep people out.

Some homeless people would get in, sometimes leaving behind needles from drug use — something that posed a danger to firefighters if there was a fire at the building.

“If our fellas are going on their hands and knees and there's any kind of sharp needles, the risk of being infected by these needles to the firefighter is very high,” Wickenden said.

Wickenden says he's pleased the building is being torn down.

In the meantime, the company that won the demolition contract has put up a fence around the perimeter of the building, said the co-ordinator of capital assets for the City of Sudbury.

“The property now becomes his liability so he has to keep people out of there and protect his worksite,” Ed Vildis said.

The demolition is expected to take two to three weeks.

Once the building is gone, the city will be able to assess in the spring how far pollution from a former gas station on the property has spread.

“We'll determine exactly how far they've extended under the building and it'll be kind of a ‘dig and dump’ situation with the environmental clean-up,” Vildis said.