Magee House deadlock galls neighbouring businesses

Businesses near Magee House in Hintonburg are pleading with the city to do more to help shoppers make their way around the partially collapsed heritage building.

Sidewalk closure in front of crumbling building appears 'indefinite,' BIA fears

The sidewalk and on-street parking spots in front of Magee House have been fenced off since the heritage building partially collapsed in July. (Laura Osman/CBC )

Businesses near Magee House in Hintonburg are pleading with the city to do more to help shoppers make their way around the partially collapsed heritage building.

Ever since the west wall of the old stone house at 1119 Wellington Street W. crumbled on July 24, a chain-link fence has blocked access to the sidewalk and on-street parking spots in front of the property.

That fence will likely remain in place until the building's owner, Ovidio Sbrissa, begins work to restore the building, but there's no telling when that will happen — if ever.

"We're assuming that this is going to be an indefinite situation," said Dennis Van Staalduinen, executive director of the Wellington West Business Improvement Area.

"That's what drives us absolutely insane."

Sidewalk closure 'devastating'

The BIA has drafted a letter to the mayor pleading with the city to reinstate the sidewalk regardless of what happens to the building.

"All I want is my sidewalk back, and I want it back yesterday," Van Staalduinen said.

'All I want is my sidewalk back, and I want it back yesterday,' said Dennis Van Staalduinen, executive director of the Wellington West Business Improvement Area. (Laura Osman/CBC )

The sidewalk closure has been "devastating," nearby businesses told CBC.

"It effectively has cut off any of our walk-by business. People know now that the sidewalk is closed, so they kind of avoid this block," said Ian Fraser, co-owner of Cyclelogik​, a bike shop and spinning gym next door to Magee House.

The fence has also reduced scarce street parking, Fraser said. But more concerning is the threat to pedestrian safety.

Dennis Van Staalduinen, head of the Wellington West Business Improvement Area, wants the city to figure out a way to reopen the sidewalk in front of the partially-collapsed Magee House. He says the closure is bad for business and dangerous for pedestrians. 0:48

Magee House sits halfway between Carruthers Avenue and Pinhey Street, and Van Staalduinen fears pedestrians who choose to jaywalk rather than backtrack to the nearest crossing are risking their lives.

"We're just lucky we haven't seen anyone hurt or killed," he said.

Councillor pressing for solution

The city did not respond to CBC's request for an interview before our deadline.

Kitchissipi Coun. Jeff Leiper called news of the continuing closure discouraging, but vowed to keep working on a solution.

"I'm pressing the city to try to come up with some kind of a creative solution to get that sidewalk reopened," Leiper said.

Some Hintonburg shop owners say the partial collapse of Magee House is hurting their bottom line and they want something done about it. 8:12

City officials have ordered the owner of the building to come up with a plan to stabilize the building by Dec. 10, and will monitor it in the meantime.

The city has said Sbrissa is responsible for all costs related to closure of the sidewalk and loss of parking spaces.