Crews started the demolition of the old town hall on Friday, July 29, bringing down most parts of the building by the end of the day, levelling the structure that served as the seat of Ponoka’s local government for 54 years.
The building at the southwestern corner of the intersection of 48 Avenue and 51 Street was inaugurated in 1962 and “it was used as town hall from day one,” said Sandra Smith, town’s communication officer.
According to a statement from the town, prior to the beginning of the actual demolition, crews of VISCO Demolition Contractors carried out some work focusing on abatement and disposal of hazardous material in the building, including asbestos, to ensure that there would be no dispersal of harmful substances to the people or households in the immediate surrounding.
As the demolition area was fenced, no disruption to vehicle traffic or pedestrians was observed as the crews started to bring down the structure on Friday.
The old town hall was vacated last fall by the town administration after a report, prepared at the end of examinations in the building, found that there were serious health and safety issues for the employees. The report listed some of those concerns as high carbon dioxide levels; mould in the basement, as well as airborne mould; asbestos in the air distribution system; an open lift station for sewage and storm water in the basement and ventilation issues, including deficient outdoor airflow on the first and second floors.
Following the issuance of the report, Alberta Occupational Health and Safety declared the council chambers and basement in the building off limits to staff and visitors.
The contract to demolish the building was awarded to VISCO at a cost of $89,365. Another company, RH Services was contracted at a cost of $14,000 to monitor and conduct air quality testing during the removal of hazardous material from the building.
Town’s statement quoted Mayor Rick Bonnett as saying “Once the demolition of the old town hall is complete, we can start exploring other possible uses for that location that will enhance downtown development.”