The Preston Springs Hotel will be temporarily fenced off as part of the next step in the City of Cambridge’s efforts to get the building’s owner to maintain the historic structure.

City council got an update Tuesday night on ongoing efforts to maintain the building. In April, the city issued an order to ensure that the historic structure is secured and maintained.

The wooden fencing might end up providing a canvas for a community art project, according to one suggestion from an update reported to Cambridge City Council.

It will also protect the vacant building and anyone tempted to enter and explore it.

“We wanted to make sure it was secured properly so that people would not be able to gain entrance and therefore keep the public safe and to make sure the building looked reasonable,” said Mike Mann, Ward 3 City Councillor and member of the city council’s Preston Springs working committee.

Council didn’t hear when people living in the area will see the temporary fencing go up.

Haastown Holdings Preston Incorporated, the property’s owner, has also closed up pits and holes on the ground floor and secured the front entrance, according to what councillors heard on Tuesday.

“The owner is being cooperative, and he wants to keep it secure as well,” said Mann.

Council’s Preston Springs working committee has met with the owner to discuss ideas for the future of the property. One suggestion put forward at that meeting was affordable housing, Mann told CBC News.

“The owner is going to come back to us with some ideas about what he thinks could happen with that building,” said Mann. He anticipates a meeting in the next few weeks.

Built in 1880 as the Preston Springs Hotel, the property has served as a sanatorium, Second World War naval training facility and a retirement home.

The building has been vacant since 1990, and in 1992, was determined to be of architectural and historical value under the Ontario Heritage Act.