The For Sale sign has gone up at the former OPP building at 590 Chippewa Street in North Bay.
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli made the announcement Friday morning which was part of a larger development with the province preparing to sell 486 buildings it owns across Ontario.
Fedeli says half of those buildings, 243, go on sale immediately, including the former OPP structure.
Fedeli says the former Liberal government sat on these properties for years and by doing so wasted taxpayers’ money.
He says when the Progressive Conservative party was the Opposition he regularly raised the issue of the Liberals sitting on these empty properties refusing to sell them.
“I can’t tell you the number of times I spoke in the Legislature about this, but it fell on blank stares,” Fedeli said.
Despite being empty for 10 years, the OPP building, which was built during the 1970s, has been maintained during this period at an annual cost of $110,000.
Fedeli says that’s more than $1 million that’s been wasted in the last decade on one building alone.
The Ford government believes it can generate $105 million to $135 million over the next four years by selling all the surplus buildings in Ontario.
The former police building has 11,000 square feet and Fedeli says it can be used for a variety of purposes.
Once sold, it means the new owner will pay taxes to the City of North Bay and employ people.
Additionally, it also means taxpayers are no longer footing the bill to maintain an empty building.
“I think there’ll be good interest in this building, it’s a solid building,” Fedeli said.
Once it sells Fedeli says the money it generates will go into operating revenues as will the cash generated by the sale of other government-owned buildings.
Fedeli says by applying the money to operating revenue, it means this is money the provincial government doesn’t have to borrow.
Fedeli says the former OPP building is the first of several that will be sold in North Bay.
He says in a couple of years the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry facility on Trout Lake Road will also be sold once the employees vacate the site.
In starting the selloff, Fedeli says the Ford administration is following the advice of the Auditor General who has argued for the sale of the government’s empty buildings for years.
Asked why the former Liberal government hung on to the buildings, Fedeli said he didn’t know and added: “it defies logic”.
“It’s money that’s sitting there,” he said.
“It’s money that’s unproductive. There is absolutely no sense to not selling these buildings across Ontario.”
Fedeli says the sale will be good for the economy and is a symbolic gesture that change is coming to Ontario and that the province is open for business.
“This is exactly what business people would do with an unused asset,” he said.
“You would put it up for sale and hopefully see good, creative jobs come out of it.”