Demolition begins on Hamilton education centre

Demolition of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Education Centre at 100 Main St. is expected to take the rest of the summer.
The walls at the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Education Centre at 100 Main St. W. started to come down Wednesday. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Demolition has started on the former public school board headquarters at 100 Main St. W.

Crews are taking down the 46-year-old building, which housed the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Education Centre.

By early Wednesday afternoon, a portion of the west wall had been removed.

The demolition is mostly hidden because of a hoarding fence that lines the property. But passersby were shooting photos over the fence as crews worked.

"This is really sad," one man said.

"There's an empty parking lot on the other side of the property. Why not build a new building over there and leave this intact?"

The building is being demolished to make way for McMaster University's new $85-million downtown health centre. The board will construct a new facility at its Crestwood location on the Mountain.

McMaster took possession of the property August 1. With the size of the building, demolition will likely take the rest of the summer, said Gord Arbeau, McMaster director of public and community relations. Construction will likely begin in the fall.

Downtown activist Matt Jelly has protested tearing down the building. He believes McMaster and the school board should have searched harder for alternatives.

He was at the demolition site Wednesday afternoon taking photos as backhoes tore away pieces of the building.

"We've already seen this too many times (in Hamilton)," he said. "We've seen so many buildings torn down before it was necessary to tear them down, and for McMaster and the board of education to contribute to that, it's a shame."

Adrian Brassington, who has started a new blog This is Our Hamilton, was also taking photos. He has no attachment to the building or its architecture, he said.

But he sees its demolition as "emblematic of a problem in this city" where developments aren't discussed early enough by the public, he said.

The land will be divided into two pieces, and the university will likely apply for the portion of the property facing King Street West to be zoned residential/institutional.

Board staff members have moved into three interim locations in downtown Hamilton — the Standard Life facility, the Stelco Tower and the Robert Thomson building.

View a timeline of the Education Centre building