Sudbury

Ontario government sells 37 properties, including old Sault jail and North Bay police station

It's been a year since the province announced plans to raise $135 million by selling unused government buildings and land. So far, only a few properties have been sold and a couple are here in northeastern Ontario.

A year later, province still doing 'due diligence' on 10 other unused properties in the northeast

The former jail on McNabb Street in Sault Ste. Marie was sold for $90,000 earlier this year and now houses a half-dozen businesses. (Northern Advancement Capital )

The 35,000 square foot building on McNabb Street in Sault Ste. Marie sat empty for years until developer Jason Naccarato snapped it up for just $90,000.

"Your customer base— people looking for old prisons— is very small," says the president of Northern Advancement Capital.

The old jail now houses a photography studio, a naturopath, a French language school and Naccarato's office in the old warden's apartment.

"If I wasn't so busy, maybe I'd think about it more," he says when asked about where he now works.

Naccarato says getting a half-dozen tenants into the old office space of the jail is "low-hanging fruit" and he is now looking for creative ways to use the remaining two-thirds of the sprawling property, which is mostly the former cell blocks. 

His company specializes in re-purposing old buildings with high operating and repair costs that might scare off other entrepreneurs. 

"That is a challenge and why a lot of these buildings are a tough nut to crack, because of the fact that a lot of those operating expenses can be so high and can get up there pretty quickly," says Naccarato. 

The former Sault Ste. Marie jail was for sale for years before Northern Advancement Capital purchased it earlier this year. (Northern Advancement Capital )

Last fall, the province said it was hoping to sell 486 empty buildings and vacant lots and raise as much as $135 million, plus save $9.6 million in annual insurance and operating costs.

But now, Infrastructure Ontario says it is looking to sell 243 properties over the next four years.

In the last year, 37 properties have been unloaded.

The only other one in the northeast is a former Ontario Provincial Police station in North Bay, that was bought by a numbered company earlier this year for $700,000.

Last fall, there were about a dozen provincial properties in the northeast that were poised to be put up for sale.

A 5.4 acre property with a former communications tower known as the Swastika Tree Nursery Tower has since been taken off the list when the government determined it was required as a "core" property. 

The remaining properties are still going through "due diligence" before being put on the market. 

  • 0.3 acres of vacant land at the Lilabelle Lake Air Base, near Cochrane
  • 1 acre vacant property on Airport Road in Fort Albany
  • Residential duplex at 57 and 59 Charles Street in Killarney, formerly used to house employees of the Ontario Provincial Police
  • Three forested properties of 2 acres, 40 acres and 43 acres near the Quebec border in the Larder Lake area
  • 7 acre-site that was the former Meldrum Bay Patrol Yard for the Ministry of Transportation, off Highway 540 on Manitoulin Island
  • 1.5 acre woodlot at Highway 532 and Marter Road in Searchmont
  • 28,000 square foot former Ministry of Natural Resources office sitting on 5 acres on Trout Lake in North Bay
  • More than 3,000 acres wooded and vacant property at the Killarney turnoff, Highways 69 and 637, south of Sudbury
  • 2.6 acre "narrow" waterfront property at 38 Lakeshore Road in Temagami
  • 3-acre site at the former Ministry of Transportation yard at 1092 Main Street in Whitefish Falls
  • 0.4 acre vacant lot that was the site of a former boathouse on Sim Street in Little Current

About the Author

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca