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Gardening inmates

The mayor thinks getting prisoners to work in the community could be a good idea.
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Getting inmates to plant the city’s healing garden could be a good thing the mayor says. (Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com)

The mayor thinks getting prisoners to work in the community could be a good idea.

An agreement between the city and the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre Greenhouse and Garden program would see local inmates working on a community garden at the former Wilson Street Headland, which is now called the Spirit Garden.

The inmates would grow traditional Aboriginal medicines like sweetgrass, sage, cedar and tobacco.

Mayor Keith Hobbs said he remembers when inmates used to work on local highways and pick up garbage and that the idea has potential.

“I think keeping inmates busy and productive is a good thing,” he said.

The centre would choose inmates who were close to being released. That would also be a good way to help them transition back into the community, Hobbs said.

“I actually like the concept of getting inmates back reintegrated into the public.”

Waterfront project manager Katherine Dugmore said the idea came about after a conversation between the prison’s garden project and the city’s parks department. The plants would be used as gifts and for city Aboriginal ceremonies.

“In its ultimate version it could have the greenhouse and garden program growing the plants, installing the plants, maintaining the plants and then harvesting them and they would share in 50 per cent of the harvest,” she said.

The crew would be at the site around once a week. Dugmore and Hobbs said the prison has supervision and safety protocols in place to ensure public safety.

Council will receive confidential information about the program Monday. If approved, it could start next year.