Tear down hotel: BIA
With each passing year, the Rainy Lake Hotel becomes more of an eyesore and health hazard—and it’s high-time it’s demolished, the chair of the Downtown BIA told town council Monday night.
Doug Anderson asked council to seriously consider the demolition of the hotel, which closed its doors in 2005, in the 2014 municipal budget.
He added this past summer, shoppers have been telling him the downtown area is “quaint,” has “charm,” and is “vibrant” and “fun”—something he and his brother, Blair, had never heard them say before.
But despite the positive response to birdhouses painted by children, the tree with a face carved by Joe Kneisz, and the “lush” flower baskets lining the street, Anderson also heard comments about how the old Rainy Lake Hotel stinks of mold and is an “ugly eyesore.”
What’s more, the iconic landmark now has become a serious health hazard to the inhabitants of buildings and businesses in the surrounding area, he added.
The building has broken and boarded up windows, there’s animal excrement on and around the building, hanging cables, weeds, rusting pipes and ladders, gaping holes around the base of the building, and garbage around it.
Mayor Roy Avis said that before Monday’s meeting, council was provided with background information on the old hotel.
He noted it will cost about $1 million to properly remove all of the hazardous materials from it and then demolish it.
But the mayor added council definitely will be looking at the matter in its 2014 budget.
Anderson admitted $1 million is “a hell of lot of money,” and does not want to see all of that burden fall on taxpayers.
“A lot of people are struggling to make ends meet and I don’t want to throw this on them or the downtown,” he stressed.
“But I think [demolishing the hotel and revitalizing the property] will create a lot of value that is missing there,” Anderson said, adding it will encourage more people to set up shop downtown.
Mayor Avis said the town will be looking for any grants to help cover the high cost of demolition.
“It sounds like there might be a provincial election and it seems like the government throws money around at that time,” he remarked.
“Maybe we might get into a situation where we can get some money from senior levels of government,” the mayor added.
“If that was to take place, I am sure that we, as a council, would support this project.”
As previously reported, research has found demolition is the only option for the Rainy Lake Hotel.
Plans for the vacant Rainy Lake Hotel to be levelled and redeveloped as a “Mainstreet Market Square” were unveiled in the spring of 2012.
The market square would contain a gateway paying homage to the former Rainy Lake Hotel (possibly using some of the bricks from the original building), as well as market stalls, a band shelter, outdoor heaters, trees, and public washrooms.