Ryan Elliott, Director of Structural Engineering with G. Douglass Vallee Engineering Ltd., investigated the building at 25 Old Mill Road in Smiths Falls on Tuesday, and shared an update with the Committee of the Whole during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Elliott was engaged by the town to determine if the former water treatment plant requires immediate demolition, or if it could possibly be preserved and rehabilitated. The heritage building, which suffered an overnight fire a little over a week ago, has been deemed unsafe for police to enter, in order to conduct their investigation into the fire.
Elliott thanked the fire department for letting him use their aerial vehicle in order to safely investigate the building.
“I was able to obtain a number of mortar and stone samples. My overall opinion of the structure at this point is that you do have options.” He noted that demolition and abatement and a brownfield clean up is certainly an option, but also pointed out that “the deterioration of mortar wasn’t as detrimental as I had expected.”
This type of building was constructed with a fire-containment strategy, Elliott explained, “the timber was intended to burn out, with the load bearing stone remaining intact.”
Elliott noted that “the red brick 1896 building, it was in excellent condition. An interior roof beam had collapsed onto a mullion in the window, and the mullion is in such good condition, it is holding [the beam] up.
The damage in that section isn’t as severe as in the original stone building.”
Elliott’s official report will be sent in writing, but for now, town council seemed pleased and surprised to hear that there is a possibility the heritage building could be preserved.
The water treatment plant at 25 Old Mill Road was designated a Heritage property in 1977.