Blue Line

Cop shops put to use

February 18, 2022  By Carl Clutchey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Feb. 16, 2022, Thunder Bay, Ont. – Though very few would visit a police station by choice, it turns out that more than a few wouldn’t have any qualms about purchasing one that’s been declared surplus.

Geraldton resident Yvonne Abraham said more than half a dozen tire-kickers pondered buying her town’s old OPP station before she and her husband ended up owning the 1950s-vintage Main Street structure.

“If you could get past the old floor and old paint job, you could see that it was still a solid building that had been well-maintained,” Abraham recalled this week.

That was 10 years ago. Fast forward a few years, and the building renovated by Abraham’s husband, Yves Bernard, is now home to two government agencies.

As the prospect of a new gold mine on Geraldton’s doorstep became closer to reality, “we knew there would be a need (in Geraldton) for office space,” Abraham said.

Long-time Greenstone realtor Nancy Kyro said three former OPP stations in the area that have been bought and converted into other uses, including residential homes, were a bargain when the province put them on the auction block a decade ago.

“They were all in good locations, and the price (before the mining boom) was so good back then you just couldn’t beat it,” said Kyro.

Removing the concrete jail cells, which were built to last, was a chore, “but we didn’t really want to run a jail,” chuckled Abraham.

She recalled that when they took possession of the building, it had been cleaned out except for a “most-wanted” poster that had inadvertently been left on the back of an office door.

Not everyone takes the cells out.

Yvon Paris, who about 20 years ago purchased Marathon’s former OPP detachment on Highway 17 and turned it into a gift shop, left the cells in as conversation pieces.

“It was a very unique building, because it also had a wing that had been used as a courthouse,” Paris said.

Last fall, Marathon OPP officers moved into a new detachment on Peninsula Road, vacating a smaller building situated between town hall and the municipality’s fire department. Mayor Rick Dumas said council hasn’t yet decided what to do with the empty detachment.

Meanwhile, Greenstone is to receive yet another new OPP detachment, even though the one it has now on Highway 11 is still relatively new.

The existing station will have to be moved to make way for the new Equinox gold mine. It’s expected that the new detachment will be located on the highway, once that section of road has been realigned.

In Fort Frances, the recently vacated OPP station there will be used by the province’s Solicitor-General’s office. The town received a new OPP station last year on Mcirvine Road.

Dryden, meanwhile, will use its soon-to-be vacated municipal police station as temporary office space while the city completes a $290,000 renovation at city hall. Construction on that project is slated to start next month.

At the end of this month, Dryden will be policed by the OPP, using an existing OPP detachment on Highway 17.

– The Chronicle-Journal

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