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Queen’s Park has a jail in the Sault to sell you

Ford government puts surplus properties on the block
Former Sault Ste. Marie jail
The former Sault Ste. Marie jail is up for sale by the Ontario government. (Commercial Realty Sault Ltd. photo)

The former jail in Sault Ste. Marie is among 14,600 acres worth of surplus buildings and vacant land that the province is putting up for sale.

Under its often-repeated red tape-cutting mantra, the Ford government issued a plan on Dec.4 to expedite the sale of 243 surplus properties across Ontario.

These properties cost the province $9.6 million annually in operating costs and liabilities. Their sale, at market rate, should generate between $105 million and $135 million in revenue over the next four years.

The government claims its “streamlined” sales process will reduce the circulation time to outside third parties, expedite the sale and reuse of heritage buildings, and exempt realty transactions from Environmental Assessment Act requirements, unless the property’s future use has an environmental impact.

This process will save 150 days of administrative time.

As these properties become market-ready, the province will also identify which ones could be re-purposed for affordable housing and long-term care projects.

In the first batch of 15 listed properties, including some bush and residential lots in Northern Ontario, is the former Sault jail on McNabb Street, which is available for $99,000.

The property was used as a jail until 2003. Currently unoccupied, it's been used on a seasonal basis as the headquarters for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry's aviation forest fire and emergency services.

“Ontario currently has hundreds of vacant surplus properties across the province, costing the government millions of tax dollars a year to maintain," said Government and Consumer Services Minister Bill Walker in a Dec.4 press release.

“By putting properties back into productive use, our plan will also help local communities across the province see benefits in economic development and jobs,” added Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark.