Whenever I have to walk somewhere in this city — and I walk almost everywhere, so it’s frequent — I tend to take alleys and lanes to get there.
Almost a week ago, myself and two of my coworkers set out to try Smoke’s Poutinerie, which is situated on River Street just west of Main Street, and directly across from the entry to a laneway I often take to get to the Cornerstone Pub.
Because it was so close to the newsroom, we decided to walk to the restaurant.
But this column isn’t about my walking routes, poutine, or even the cleanliness of the city’s lanes and alleys.
It’s about the condition of a particular building that fronts on to Main Street.
Chances are, if you have walked the same laneway, or up First Avenue Northwest, or even out of the entrance of Mosaic Place that faces it, you’ve spotted the building I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the tall, brick structure beside Nit’s Thai Food that is almost entirely missing a back wall.
Since I moved to the Friendly City almost two years ago, I’ve walked past that building dozens of times.
Every time I do, I wonder why the city continues to allow it to stand in the condition it is now in.
There are dozens of reasons why it should be torn down or repaired.
A big one is public safety.
Once, when walking past the structure on my way to the Cornerstone, I bumped into an employee of a nearby business who said brick chunks have fallen off the wall in the past as it continues to weather the damages brought on by the seasons.
The employee said she was concerned that one day someone would walk past and be struck by falling debris.
She’s not an engineer and neither am I, and so neither of us is really qualified to comment on how sound the building actually is, but a similar thought has certainly crossed my mind.
Slightly less important, but still a point worth making: the building is an eyesore. The back side, stripped of all of the brick that was once there, is now obstructed using white tarp and what appears to be metal caging. Birds have nested there, and often have torn their way through the tarp.
The front side doesn’t look much better, boarded up and closed off as it is. It’s an empty, decrepit building on the city’s main street.
That’s hardly an image of growth and prosperity, especially when it’s also visible from a facility that is held by some as this city’s pride and joy, and that certainly draws large volumes of people into the city for concerts and other events.
To be fair to the city, it’s possible this one isn’t solely on their heads.
The building may have an owner with plans to do something with it.
But the city should either be pushing aggressively to see those plans enacted, or working on another solution for the structure. Whether it’s dangerous to public wellbeing or not, the building is a black mark on Main Street, and it needs to go.
Justin Crann can be reached at 306-691-1265 or follow him on Twitter @J_Crann.