Imax building coming down; tensions heating up
Tempers are flaring at London city hall.
The tension comes after the Western Fair District began demolition of a number of buildings on its property Monday, including the former Imax Theatre building.
Among them is Joe Swan, who says council had an agreement with the Western Fair that no demolition would take place until a meeting at the end of the month to sort out ownership and potential future uses for the three buildings being torn down.
"I guess they decided to not wait for council," says Swan.
Swan adds the Western Fair agreed to discuss its redevelopment plans at a meeting set for July 29th, before a single brick is removed.
"This is city-owned land and city-owned buildings and they're being demolished when they know that council had questions and concerns, so frustrated and disappointed," says Swan.
But the Western Fair says it owns the buildings outright and co-owns the property with the city.
CEO Hugh Mitchell tells CTV News they've been fully transparent with their plans, which include tearing down buildings to increase parking.
Western Fair board member and councillor Harold Usher says a permit was issued July 2.
"The Western Fair has a well laid out plan and this was presented to city council a little over a year ago. This should not have been a surprise that these buildings were coming down and the Western Fair doesn't have to get permission from the city to remove a building," says Usher.
On the outside of the former Imax Theatre there's no visible signs of demolition damage just yet, except three holes from city police training on tactical manoeuvrings using live explosives.
That occurred Monday morning, something that's often done, but usually on old abandoned buildings.
The Imax opened to great fanfare in 1996 but closed nine years later never turning a profit. It was then turned into a music hall which lasted five years.
Other buildings coming down include the Old East Administration building, along with the Special Events and causeway.
Swan says it's not just the bricks and mortar being destroyed, but also the relationship between city council and the Western Fair District.
"When it goes to city council and you're invited to come and give us an update and we have your assurances that you're coming, I don't think it's appropriate that they demolish the buildings before coming to see us. These actions have been taken in the height of summer when there's no public around. It really leaves a bad taste in your mouth."