Uncertainty around Seaforth building's future after tractor crash
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
A large tractor remains wedged beneath a historic building on Seaforth’s main street after the machine struck the building just after 8 p.m. on Friday night.
The collision at the corner of John and Main Streets resulted in a visible crack in the brick at the top of the building and extensive damage to the ground floor of the building, which had housed a business. A residence was located in the upper level of the building. The residents were home at the time of the collision, but were uninjured.
Ontario Provincial Police have identified the driver of the tractor as a 23-year-old resident of Huron East, who was uninjured as a result of the incident.
The tractor remains wedged underneath the building and police say it will only be removed once it is safe to do so.
A road closure - Main Street (County Road 12) from Highway 8 to Gouinlock Street - remains in effect and the building in question will remain fenced off, according to Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan, until the situation can be properly and safely addressed. However, pedestrian traffic is being allowed in the surrounding area so people can access local businesses and traffic can reach Main Street via Crombie and Coleman Streets.
“We do not want the building falling down and hurting anybody. So, we’re going to keep the barricades up, or some agency will, until that issue is addressed,” MacLellan told CTV on Sunday.
With a large, visible crack in the building, there are concerns among residents and members of Huron East Council that the building will not be able to be saved.
“This was a beautiful building,” MacLellan told CTV. “You can still see the artwork in the brickwork. It’s unfortunate. And, if we end up losing the building from the corner, well, that would be really unfortunate.”
Provincial Constable Craig Soldan of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) says that the investigation is ongoing and more information will follow, though no charges have yet been laid.
At Tuesday night’s Huron East Council meeting, MacLellan commended several members of staff for their swift action as a result of the incident, which he said was the result of a “traffic accident”, which he said not many people were understanding and that was unfortunate. The cause of the collision, however, has not yet been verified by the OPP.
He said that Chief Administrative Officer Brad McRoberts was quick to call together the municipality’s emergency management group and take charge, as he made a note of saying that McRoberts, not him, is in charge of such a situation.
MacLellan then commended the public works staff and local fire departments, including Fire Chief Kent Readman, who he said was at the scene until well into the morning hours of the next day. Tasks that MacLellan didn’t even consider, he said, were turning off the gas and hydro to the building to prevent further catastrophe. The public works staff was quick to block off the area and divert traffic, he said, which was also much appreciated.
Now, he said, everyone is just in wait-and-see mode. “We don’t know the end result, but we will find out in time,” he said.