Canada
Closed Ontario jail could become medical marijuana facility

Millbrook Correctional Centre

Credits: BRENDAN WEDLEY/QMI AGENCY

BRENDAN WEDLEY | QMI AGENCY

PETERBOROUGH, ON - Cavan Monaghan Township is considering setting up a medical marijuana grow operation at the former Millbrook Correctional Centre.

The township's council recently voted to have the municipality's staff work with the Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corp. and the Innovation Cluster at Trent University to explore the possible reuse of the former jail and Health Canada's update of the regulations for growing medical marijuana.

Deputy Mayor Scott McFadden raised the idea of the municipality partnering with a private-sector company to grow medical marijuana at the former jail southwest of Peterborough.

"It already comes with security," he noted. "It used to be used for keeping people in. In this sense, it would be used for keeping people out."

The provincial government closed the facility on the 105.8-acre property at the west end of the village of Millbrook in May 2003. It's undertaking an environmental assessment of the former jail property.

Under McFadden's vision, the township would acquire the property from the province then find a private-sector partner. Together, they would take advantage of new regulations on the growing of medical marijuana.

The regulations appear to eliminate the home-based growing of medical marijuana, McFadden said.

"You're going to have to get medical marijuana from commercial growers who are licensed through the federal government," he said. "That creates this market."

Others in the community have put forward other possible reuses of the former jail property, including using the site for an athletics complex and a recreational facility.

But with the township planning for the possibility of the relocation of the OLG Slots at Kawartha Downs facility to Peterborough - and the loss of the revenue as the host municipality - McFadden views a medical marijuana grow operation as a way to create jobs and generate money for the municipality.

The municipality stands to lose about $3.4 million a year if the slots facility moves to Peterborough.
Clearly the municipality is looking for additional revenue, McFadden said.

"It's about time that municipalities start thinking outside of the box when it comes to generating revenues as opposed to always going back to the taxpayers to generate more taxes," he said.

The former jail property includes about 10 buildings with a 23-foot-tall masonry wall and six watchtowers around the complex.

"It's very limited on what you can do with a former prison," McFadden said.

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