Chatham Jail closed, future of 165-year-old building unknown
Inmates now wating to move into Southwest Detention Centre in Windsor
Inmates from the Chatham Jail are now biding their time in London and Sarnia, waiting for the new Southwest Detention Centre in Windsor to open.
The Chatham Jail was built in 1849, and it officially closed last week. It was 80 per cent full when it closed.
Steven Small, the assistant deputy ministry of corrections, says everyone connected to the Chatham Jail is looking forward to the move to the new Southwest Detention Centre.
"It's dated. It's 150 years old. It's inefficient. There's a lot of blind spots," he said of the Chatham Jail. "It costs a lot to run and now we're going to have a modern state-of-the-art facility in Windsor, and it'll be better for the staff and for the inmates and for the visitors."
Small says the first inmates will be admitted to the new jail sometime in the next month.
There were 45 people working at the Chatham Jail. Six of them retired. The rest will work at the new Windsor site.
It's unclear what will happen to the 165-year-old Chatham Jail.
The last inmates moved out back in May and the facility officially closed last Friday, when the provincial colours were lowered in a ceremony.
Andreanne Baribeau of Radio-Canada shot this video of the flag lowering.
Jim Gilbert, the president of the Kent Historical Society, says the was built using stone carried up the Thames River from Amherstburg. It's been designated as a historic building.
"I hate to see it close, but on the other hand, I'd hate worse to see it be torn down," he said. "I hope it can assume a new life. If it could assume a new life, then I would be very happy, and so would most of the people in Chatham-Kent."
Gilbert suggests the jail could be converted into a hotel, restaurant or community centre.
The municipality will have the first option to buy the site from the province
Michael Bondy is the municipal councillor for the area.
"Speaking for myself, as a city councillor, I'd like to see the preservation of the jail, but frankly, it's out of our hands," he said. "So we're a little concerned as to what's going to happen with the structure itself."
Bondy doubts the municipality will be interested in buying the building from the province.