A building will be demolished after its roof collapsed early Friday morning under the weight of nearly 50 centimetres of snow.

Officials rushed to the vacant commercial building at the corner of Laurier Ave. and Esplanade Ave. after the roof gave in around 3 a.m.

The building and surrounding area was quickly secured. Firefighters say there is no danger to buildings next to the structure or for people passing by.

Engineers spent the day at the scene and determined the building was structurally unsound.

“Unfortunately I’m not surprised to be here today. We’ve been watching this building closely for quite a while. And we’re aware that we’re facing some negligence by the owner of this building. We knew the situation was not good, but not that bad,” said city councillor Marie Plourde, who represents Plateau Mont-Royal.

Plourde said the latest inspection on the dilapidated building was on Feb. 7, but it was only an exterior inspection because the borough does not have the right enter the building without the owner’s permission.

“We did our job,” she said, adding, however, “We couldn’t see how much decay was inside the building.”

Tola Roofing owner Jimmy Tola said this is a perfect example that shows clearing snow on flat-roofed buildings, especially in the Plateau where there are many older building, is imperative.

“The roof is weak,” he said. “When snow falls… it’s heavy. It’s snow, it’s water. What has happened is the beams become heavy and they crack. Listen, you can risk a life for $700 or $1000 to remove the snow once or maybe two times a year.”

The poor state of the building did nothing to help the problem, added Plourde.

“The latest snowfalls just amplified the problems the building already had,” she said, calling the owner negligent. “It’s the responsibility of the owner to take care of your building and that implies taking care of the snow on your rooftop too.”

The building was the former site of Glatt's Kosher Meat Products, but has been abandoned for several years and is for sale.

Plourde said she wants the borough to be permitted access to all vacant buildings every six months.

““This is a matter of public security” she said. “This has a lot of impact on the neighbours… This kind of negligence is really selfish.”

The city of Montreal had assessed the building and the property at just over $2 million. With the building demolished the value of the property will drop by more than $1,000,000.

The owner will also receive a bill for the cost of demolition -- estimated at $150,000.