Coming Down: Petrolia facades damaged by weather

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The harsh winter is taking its toll on downtown Petrolia’s historic buildings.

For the second time in a month, a part of the main street’s sidewalk was blocked off after bricks began falling from some of the older buildings in town.

Friday, the sidewalk in front of Grandis Jewelers was roped off with yellow danger tape after a number of small pieces of brick came down. Several weeks ago, the building which houses Oasis and The Dog Groomer had the same problem.

Corrine Nauta of Lambton County’s building department (which takes care of planning matters for Petrolia) says water is making its way into the bricks, expanding, then contracting when the weather warms causing the bricks to fall apart.

“With this weather, it’s been tough,” says Nauta. “And yes, were seeing it more than normal this year.”

Nauta says the county’s main concern is for the safety of people walking in the area and it is up to the building owner to make sure the façade is safe.

The owner of Grandis Jeweler, Reg Grandis, says he has always cared for his historic building, completing about $12,000 worth of repairs just two years ago. “It’s been a hard winter, bricks expanding and contracting,” he told The Independent. Grandis has already contacted a mason to get a temporary fix until the warmer weather hits.

But he says he disappointed with the way the falling bricks were handled. “We’ll do whatever we can to fix it, but shutting me down (by placing tape barrier all around store front and extending a few feet into the street) I would have appreciated a bit of slack here.”

Grandis says it appeared his business was closed and he had one customer who made a special trip from Kincardine. “He thought we were closed. Fortunately, he called.”

Grandis says it would have been helpful to have an access into the building.

But Nauta says safety comes first. “You can’t really leave an access,” she says “It’s the general public safety that comes first. I don’t know how we could let anyone walk there,” she adds. “We need to make sure the general public is protected after hours, 24 hours a day.”