Future unknown for fully decommissioned Windsor Jail
The old Windsor Jail in Windsor, Ont. on Friday, May 15, 2015. (Michelle Maluske / CTV Windsor)
The Windsor Jail has been fully decommissioned by the Ministry of Corrections Services, but it is still uncertain what will become of the historical building.
The property was declared surplus to the provincial government in June 2013. All inmates were moved to the new South West Detention Centre by August 2014. The transfer took about two months.
The building is no longer owned by the Ministry Corrections Services. It now belongs to Infrastructure Ontario.
“Which means we have to prepare it for sale or disposition, ” says Ian McConachie, communications advisor, Infrastructure Ontario. “Which means archeology assessments, a review of the buildings and structures as well as a review of what the property may be worth.”
Dave Grimaldi, executive director of the Sandwich Improvement Area says it can be a catalyst for the revitalization.
Grimaldi says they want to be a part of finding a new life for this building, but he adds they won't sit back and hope it happens.
“When Sandra Pupatello was in office, she had made a promise to this community that it wouldn't sit empty,” says Grimaldi. “We're calling on the government to maintain that promise.”
So far, it’s just the City of Windsor that has expressed an interest in acquiring the two buildings and parking lot.
City councillor John Elliott says whatever the property's future, it has to be self-sufficient. He says it has potential.
“With that new bridge coming in and the amount of people that will be coming over, they'll say, ‘What’s that community over there? That’s the oldest part of Canada, let’s go see it.’”
For local historian, Terry Kennedy, the decommissioning is a step backwards. He wants it to become a museum, but now all that history has been stripped away.
“There’s the drop gate, nooses, keys and files that literally have the heritage of Essex-Kent County and heritage of the river in here.”
A museum is what the town of Goderich did with its old jail. The issue is always finding the money to fund it.
Elliott says before the city agrees to buy it, they need to have a brainstorming session with the community to figure out a new life for the old jail.
Kennedy believes online crowd-sourcing could be a way to get a museum started and operated over time.