The old Ford Motor Company assembly plant in northeast Southwold is rumored to be in Amazon Canada’s sights to develop a new warehouse, sorting and distribution centre.

Southwold Mayor Grant Jones today refused to confirm Amazon’s interest in the property, saying “sorry I cannot,” however, he also refused to deny it.

Ford’s former St. Thomas Assembly plant was closed in 2011, largely demolished by 2016 and decommissioned by 2019, when the 635-acre property was put up for sale. Back in the day, the 2.6-million-square-foot facility – opened in 1967 – was used to build the Ford Falcon, Lincoln Town Cars and the Mercury Grand Marquis.

“No matter what investment takes shape on the former site of the Ford St. Thomas Assembly Plant, it will be beneficial to the entire region,” said Sean Dyke, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

“That site is one of the best available industrial sites in the province and it would be wonderful to see it utilized to its full potential,” added Dyke. “ … Regardless of who invests there, the EDC will gladly work with both (Elgin) County and the company.”

In March, Amazon abandoned plans to build a large fulfillment centre in Pickering, Ontario. There were hopes that proposal would generate some 2,000 jobs, tens of millions of dollars in development charges, and millions of dollars in annual municipal tax revenues. However, the plan had also raised eyebrows because Premier Doug Ford’s government was prepared to use a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) to skirt local environmental concerns.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jeff Bezos launched Amazon in 1995. Its principal corporate offices are in Seattle and Washington. Amazon’s first quarter results, for the period ending March 31, 2021, included net sales of $108.5 billion, compared to $75.5 billion for the same period in 2020. Net income for the period was $8.1 billion, compared to $2.5 billion in 2020.

Amazon reports having made an $11 billion investment in Canada, with nearly $4 billion invested in 2019 alone. The firm has 23,000 full and part time employees in Canada and reports generating 67,000 jobs since 2010 at other companies in the construction, hospitality, professional services and retail industries. Amazon operates in 25 Canadian communities in five provinces, with two technology hubs, one regional data centre, 13 fulfillment centres, two sorting centres and 15 delivery stations.

In Ontario alone, Amazon reports making an investment of more than $5 billion in the last 10 years, with 13,000 full and part time employees.