Last week a number of Stratford residents contacted us with concerns about excess dust coming from the Avon Crest demolition. The asbestos has already been removed from the building, but demolition dust is still a serious health problem, and we know the hospital was heavily covered in lead paint. Other contaminants are possible. The Avon Crest workers are appropriately masked, but it would be good to know what the effects might be on the general population in the area, particularly at Spruce Lodge, and at our hospital. To say nothing of The Dolan, and the river.

We are having problems finding someone to speak to at the company, Budget Demolition. They don’t seem to have an office. Building and Planning Services at the City have written to say they are not responsible for dust. We have made a complaint with the Ministry of the Environment.

Given the time pressure, we decided we would just note down any information we get on this page as soon as it comes in. If you can provide information, or if you have a question, please use the contact form on your right.


6 + 13 =

Here are the relevant documents posted by HPHA:

See Al Hamberg’s video on Facebook:

“Seriously…. 100 foot high dust clouds shouldn’t be raining down on residents and polluting our air and environment. This puts anyone in the path of these clouds in DANGER.
Ministry of Environment needs to be monitoring this project.”

What we know so far:


  • We’ve submitted the forms, we’ve submitted pictures and video. We’ve sent a follow-up to the MoE. Can’t think of anything else to do, so we’ll wait a while and send a follow-up inquiry.
  • Thank you to Al Hamberg, who made an excellent video of the demolition. It was what we needed for the formal complaint.
  • We have finally made contact with the right person, and are filing a complaint with the Ministry of the Environment.
  • Peter Bolland at Spruce Lodge says he has received questions about it, and believes his residents are safe indoors. He hasn’t heard anything from the hospital or the City.
  • Daily calls to Budget Demolition – this company has no office, only a mailbox. Calls & email not returned.
  • Clerk’s office says to call Engineering Department. Engineering Department sends us to Kelsey Hammond, Chief Building inspector. Messages left Thursday and Friday, no answer so far.
  • Engage Stratford has no information for residents, nothing in the City mailings
  • Nancy Musselman’s letter to MPP Matthew Rae of November 15 has yet to be answered:
    • Asbestos and Lead Paint Removal: Could you please provide information on when the asbestos and lead paint were removed from the AvonCrest building prior to its demolition? As these materials pose significant health risks, it is crucial to ensure that their removal adheres to established safety standards.

    • Lack of Adequate Covering: It appears from the photograph that there is a lack of covering over the demolition site to prevent the release of asbestos into the atmosphere. Given the potential health hazards associated with airborne asbestos particles, I am eager to understand what measures have been taken to mitigate this risk.

    • Proximity to the River, Spruce Lodge, and Nearby Hospital: The presence of a river beside the demolition site raises concerns about potential environmental contamination. Additionally, the close proximity of Spruce Lodge residents and hospital staff parking within meters of the hazard, along with the hospital across the street, underscores the importance of stringent safety measures. What steps are being taken to ensure the safety of these individuals?
      Safe Loading of Debris: Proper disposal of demolition waste is crucial to prevent further health and environmental risks. Could you please provide information on the disposal process and the presence of bins to load debris in a safe manner?

      Our comment on Nancy’s letter: Although the asbestos has been removed from the building, there remains the question of lead paint and other contaminants. Given the age of the building, it’s not unreasonable to assume that all walls have at one time or another been painted with lead paint, and other toxic substances may well be present. Are these contaminants being released into the air?

Avon Crest and taxpayers deserve more

This letter was published by Loreena McKennitt on March 27, 2023,
through Wise Communities.

It is with concern and disappointment that we are now seeing yet another of Stratford’s unique and significant buildings prepared for demolition without a timely and thorough transition plan. It need not have come to this, or at least not in the way that it has.

Avon Crest was constructed and sustained by taxpayer dollars. As such, there should be a heightened responsibility to the community to ensure a transition plan is thoroughly explored well in advance – one that is transparent and inclusive of the community. Whether by design or neglect, the delay of information coming into the public sphere and the lack of sincere engagement are prone to making citizens feel disrespected and the process undemocratic. As we know, a healthy democracy relies on transparency and citizen engagement.

Going forward, perhaps some consideration might be given to the idea of identifying an appropriate body which would be responsible for taking an inventory of all significant buildings in the city, particularly with respect to those built and maintained with taxpayer funds. Discussions might be had with such property owners so a process could be put into place which would heighten the chances of repurposing buildings when the time comes.

As the owner of the Falstaff Family Centre, which was once a public school built with taxpayer money, it has long been my intention to ensure the public be given notice when it’s time for this property to be passed from my hands. Indeed, one of the driving forces in purchasing it in the first place was to delay the prompt disposal of a public asset.

These buildings were built with public funds and deserve a chance to stay in service to the public.

There are benefits to having heritage buildings, which provide a unique sense of place and continuity for the people who have lived in the community. We are also learning of the very significant environmental considerations which need time and the proper resources to determine whether recycling or repurposing a building makes environmental sense.

I am deeply grateful to those who have continued to champion this building, knowing at the same time the people in charge may have left this matter too late.

Loreena McKennitt

Read this letter on Stratford Today