Town of Penetanguishene provides update to residents affected by Main Street building collapse

October 3, 2023 - Earlier today, the Town of Penetanguishene hosted an information session for displaced residents and businesses. This meeting provided in-depth information regarding the shoring process, a plan for a staggered return to homes and businesses and provided tenants and building owners a chance to hear directly from officials about the work underway to ensure the safety of those involved, along with plans to rebuild the downtown core.

The businesses on Main Street Penetanguishene remain open. The Town is launching a dedicated Shop Local initiative in the coming days that will spotlight businesses impacted by the Main Street closure. Shop Local encourages and reminds residents and visitors that businesses remain open and accessible and will be holding contests for great prizes with our local businesses. The Town will continue its long-term support for these businesses as Main Street reopens with our Community Improvement Plan and activities of the Economic Advisory Committee. Additional traffic control measures are being implemented this week, which includes line painting as well as detour signage.

Community members will be hosting an event called Penetanguishene Stands Together on Saturday, October 14, 2023 from 12 to 4 p.m. at the Brian Orser Hall in the Penetanguishene Memorial Arena to support those affected by this event. Funds raised through a silent auction, barbeque, and more will support residents that were displaced following the partial building collapse last month at 78 Main Street.

“In talking to residents of Penetanguishene, and particularly those on Main Street, I understand just how deeply this has affected us all,” said Mayor Doug Rawson. “I know that it will take time to get everyone back to life as ‘normal’ but I have seen this event bring our community together, stronger than ever before. When neighbours stand together, our community’s heart grows, and it is with the support of everyone that we will build back a stronger Penetanguishene for all of us.”

For safety reasons, due to ongoing work at 78 Main Street including further demolition of the building, Main Street will continue to be closed for up to 30 days to ensure the safety of passers-by and onlookers. With this street closure, the Town of Penetanguishene is reminding residents and visitors that businesses remain open and need your support, now more than ever. Sidewalks on the opposite side of the street are open for pedestrians and shoppers.

“I want encourage everyone to support our local businesses, especially those on Main Street. Our small businesses are incredible, with ‘top-notch’ offerings, personalized service, and local flair,” added Mayor Rawson. “It is with your support that our businesses remain strong and proud to call Penetanguishene ‘home’.”

Updated: Friday, September 15

Over the past two days, Town officials continue working to secure 78 Main Street and monitor adjacent buildings on Main Street and Water Street for inspections and investigations following the 78 Main Street partial building collapse. Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of our expert structural engineering consultants and Town staff, we have notified building owners, residents and businesses that the temporary eviction on these buildings is expected to remain in place for a minimum of three (3) weeks. Further inspections will be conducted over the coming days and weeks and pending inspection outcomes, mitigation strategies will be updated and enacted.

“This is a very unfortunate situation but the primary goal is to protect people and put the safety of our community first,” said Mayor Rawson. “We know this has a big impact on residents and businesses, and this decision has not been made lightly. We’re working with the County and area partners to ensure that displaced tenants have stable housing solutions in the short term and our economic development team will be reaching out to impacted business to see how we can further support them through this tumultuous period.”

Displaced residents and businesses have been notified of this decision. Residents who have not found alternative housing will remain at a local hotel over the coming days. Local agencies are currently working to find further temporary and permanent options. Through County of Simcoe programming and funding, agencies such as Empower Simcoe, The Guesthouse, and the Salvation Army will continue working to meet the needs of displaced residents in the short term.

“I want to thank everyone involved in the response and our community for their support and generosity. Partners are working extremely hard to ensure that temporary housing needs of those who are displaced are met,” added Mayor Rawson.

Update: Tuesday, September 12

The Town of Penetanguishene would like to update residents, partners, and media on the actions being taken in response to the building collapse in the historic downtown core.

Demolition Update:

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the entire team, portions of the site have been cleared of any debris that posed an imminent public safety hazard. As a result, the east side, and a small portion of the west side of the sidewalks surrounding the area will reopen on September 13 to allow for pedestrian traffic and business storefront access. A full road closure remains in effect until further notice.

A detailed map has been attached to show areas that are still blocked off for ongoing safety concerns. Residents and businesses at 78, 76, 74, 72, 70, 68 & 66 Main Street and 2 Water Street continue to be evacuated until further notice.

While the progress of the project work to date has been positive, there is still work to be done to ensure the complete removal of the damaged structure while working to protect the integrity of the surroundings. Currently crews and officials are in the process of temporarily supporting the remaining structures using the process of “shoring.” At this time, it is estimated that the work required to make the buildings safe for re-entry could take approximately 2 weeks, depending on how the situation progresses. At any time, adjustment to the plan may be required given unknown circumstances that may arise.

We remain grateful for the support and understanding of the community during this challenging time. As mentioned throughout this situation, we ask everyone to continue to avoid the unsafe area for their own safety and respect for the ongoing project efforts. The community is thanked in advance for staying outside the fenced in area while continuing to support local businesses.  We will continue to provide updates on the progress of the project as new and material information becomes available.

Good News:

Amidst the chaos and destruction, we are delighted to share some heartwarming news. Two cats that were feared missing after the building collapse were found safe and sound by the Penetanguishene Fire Department. The cats, Angel and Thor were rescued from the ruins and, after identification returned to their owners. The owners of the cats were overjoyed and grateful to have their beloved pets back. Further, with the careful assistance of the excavator operator, undamaged family urns were retrieved and returned to those whom they belonged to.  These little victories remind us of the importance of community and coming together to support one another.

Next Steps:

The Town alongside the County of Simcoe with assistance from partners have been working diligently together since the incident to ensure that all affected individuals receive the necessary support and assistance for temporary shelter.

We would like to thank everyone involved in the recovery efforts as well as the community for their support during this difficult time.

Update: Monday, September 11

The Town of Penetanguishene would like to update residents, partners, and media on the actions being taken in response to the building collapse in the historic downtown core.

Our historic downtown core has been the scene of a building collapse that has left the Town in shock in the early morning of Thursday, September 7, 2023. Local emergency services, Town Staff, and retained professionals have been working tirelessly around the clock to manage the situation.


Demolition to the portion of the building that collapsed at 78 Main Street began this morning. The work to remove the debris will continue to be carried out with great care and precision, ensuring the safety of the workers and the public in the surrounding area. We ask for your continued patience and cooperation.  We will be releasing statements to keep everyone informed of any new material developments in the matter.

Support and assistance for displaced tenants:

The displaced individuals as a result of this incident continue to work with the County of Simcoe, Red Cross, Empower Simcoe, and the Salvation Army, among other partners to support and assist those in need with temporary accommodations. Food, clothes, and emergent supplies have been provided, and wellness checks are ongoing to ensure the needs of the individuals displaced are being met. Outreach efforts are also in place to assist higher-needs individuals.

While we believe that in most cases, the risk is minimal, with safety as the number one priority, the town may require that additional buildings temporarily remain unoccupied until further work can be completed.

We would like to remind the community that the safety of our residents is our top priority. We will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the public safety and integrity of the affected buildings.

We understand that the events of the past few days have deeply affected all of us, but together, we will move forward and work to rebuild and strengthen our historic downtown core.

The Town of Penetanguishene would like to update residents, partners and media about the extensive actions being taken in response to Thursday morning’s building collapse in our historic downtown core.

Road closures and detours have been put in place, and safety measures including fencing, police and security checks, will be ongoing throughout the weekend.

“While this incident is impactful to tenants and our community, we’re extremely thankful that there were no serious injuries,” said Mayor Doug Rawson. “I’m amazed, but not surprised, by the generosity of our town as we rally around the individuals and businesses impacted by this incident. Our town staff have our full confidence and support, and we thank all our area partners for stepping up and helping Penetanguishene.”

“Our number one priority is the safety of our residents and community, and we continue to respond and address this situation with extreme caution and due diligence,” said Jeff Lees, CAO of the Town of Penetanguishene. “It is extremely important for the safety of everyone, that residents stay clear of the site until work is complete. We understand that this is our downtown core, and the incident has captured the attention of many, but we ask for your cooperation so clean up can be completed as safely, quickly and effectively as possible.”

Demolition timeline:

Demolition is scheduled to begin first thing on the morning of Monday, September 11, 2023. Due to safety precautions and other complexities, the timeline for the demolition will be determined as work is being completed. However, safety continues to be our priority and road closures will remain in place until at least early next week. Structural engineers continue to inspect other nearby buildings and will evaluate any possible work that may be required due to impacts of this collapse.

Support and assistance for displaced tenants:

There are a number of displaced individuals as a result of this incident. The County of Simcoe, Red Cross, Empower Simcoe and the Salvation Army, among other partners, are working to support and assist those in need. Temporary accommodations for those initially displaced have been secured. Food, clothes and other temporary supplies are being provided and wellness checks are ongoing to ensure the needs of the individuals displaced are met. Outreach efforts are also in place to assist higher needs individuals.

While we believe that in some cases, risk is minimal, with safety as the number one priority, the town may require that additional buildings temporarily remain unoccupied until further safety checks can be made and more is known about the cause of this collapse. The town and area partners will work to find alternative solutions for further temporary impacts.

Additional precautions:

Given the age of the building, demolition will follow all regulatory protocols related to the removal of possible environmentally sensitive substances. The Ministry of Labour, and other partners, is supporting the Town through this process. This is another reason why the Town is asking residents to stay clear of the area. 

Thank you again to Penetanguishene residents and partners for your continued cooperation and support. More information about the timeline and next steps will be shared with the public next week.

Stacey Cooper


Jeff Lees


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