While rebuilding homes and tearing down others now beyond repair, the community of Dunrobin has been dealt another blow with the loss of its iconic meeting place. Dunrobin Plaza is being demolished this week by crews now 75 days after a tornado ripped through the village. The loss of the iconic shopping plaza is devastating residents.
“We're walking in a neighbourhood that doesn't look the same as it used to. We've really lost the spirit of the neighbourhood. We're not close to anything. We're very much in a rural area so we need it. We desperately need that community heartbeat.” said Chris Ranger, who has called Dunrobin home for 15 years.
With work underway to bring the plaza to the ground, many residents are shocked, passing by in their cars, snapping pictures, realizing its time has come.
“You hear some talking that maybe they wouldn't do that, and then to drive by and see they are taking it down - hard to believe.” said Constance Bay resident Doug McKinley.
“Sometimes when I call my brother - he lives just down this way, and he's coming over to visit and I’m ready to say 'Oh could you pick up something at the old Dunrobin meat and grocery' and then I say ‘Oh yeah it's gone.’ “
Dr. Kelly Graham runs Dunrobin Chiropractic; now at a new location in town. Graham was with her family at the time the EF-3 tornado rolled through the plaza on September 22, destroying her office and neighbouring units.
“It's really hard to see the demolition starting today - it's kind of a mix of feelings of sad of course, but happy we're starting to see progress.” said Graham.
Today she's treating her staff to a Christmas lunch across the street, at the Heart and Soul Café. Graham said she remains committed to practicing in Dunrobin.
“I grew up here, raising my family here. My practice is here, definitely not leaving, we're here to serve the community and get back to work. This is home!”
Demolition crews spent much of the day tearing down other homes in the area. They plan to have the rest of Dunrobin Plaza torn down within a few days. No word yet on if and when a new plaza will be rebuilt on the same property.