Province unloading surplus turf
Sites in Southwestern Ontario include the former London Psychiatric Hospital site
Huge land parcels, historic buildings and even a radio transmitter are among the Southwestern Ontario properties the provincial government is unloading as it speeds up the sale of surplus assets in the face of a $15-billion budget shortfall.
The 243 properties provincewide — some, already on the market and others already sold — include parcels that make up the former London Psychiatric Hospital site, the sprawling former St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital site and shut-down jails in three municipalites across the region: Chatham, Windsor, and a former youth detention centre in Goderich.
The Windsor jail site has loomed large recently, with the city wanting the site’s parking lot for visitors to a nearby city-owned hall and possibly the jail’s 1877 registry building, but not the financial burden of the 1925 jail. Provincial officials have said they won’t split up the property.
A government-owned radio transmitter in Chatham is also among the sites.
The property sell-off, totalling about 5,900 hectares, is expected to bring in up to $135 million during four years and save the province nearly $10 million a year, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services said.
“Ontario currently has hundreds of vacant surplus properties across the province, costing the government millions of tax dollars a year to maintain,” Government and Consumer Services Minister Bill Walker of the Owen Sound area said in a statement.
The province says its streamlined plan to sell off surplus property will reduce red tape and “more easily identify which properties could be used for affordable housing and long-term care projects.”
Some of the sites listed on the inventory of properties for sale are already on the market, including the former psychiatric hospital on Highbury Avenue in London and its lands totalling about 65 hectares.
That site, commercially listed for sale at $694,000, has been held up as a site for potential housing.
Another Southwestern Ontario site on the list, the historic former Chatham courthouse and jail, recently sold for $1 million.
Closed in 2014, the jail was completed in 1850. One of the men who worked on it, stone mason Alexander Mackenzie, went on to become prime minister.
Also included among the properties for sale is the Ontario Agriculture Ministry’s Woodstock office building.
George Kerhoulas, a sales representative in London with Cushman and Wakefield, who’s been in the commercial real estate business for more than 30 years, described the sale of lands such as the former psychiatric hospital site in London as an incredible opportunity.
“What a rare and unique opportunity to have all that land, compiled in one spot in the centre of the city.”
Former London and St. Thomas psychiatric hospitals, closed in regional consolidation of mental health care services and new facilities built.
Historic former jails in Windsor and Chatham, closed as a new regional detention centre opened in Windsor.
Bluewater Youth Centre, former detention centre for teenagers in Goderich.
Ontario Agriculture Ministry’s Woodstock office building, though the office will remain in the city. Other sites in Windsor and Chatham.