WALKERTON, ONT. -- In its heyday in the 1980s, Walkerton’s Energizer factory made batteries for the world, and employed hundreds of local residents.

Now, after years of sitting vacant, it will soon be bustling again.

“It was at its peak in the 1980s when they were manufacturing batteries. Then they moved to warehousing and packaging. It was quite a slow death,” says Municipality of Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody.

Walkerton’s Energizer plant closed over three years ago, and has been sitting empty ever since. But by this time next year, there will be a new tenant, growing row upon row of marijuana.

“It’s not a good look for a town on the edge of town to have an empty factory. So, we’re very glad that in 2021, there’ll be some cars parked here, 50 jobs. Fantastic news,” says Peabody.

Brockton council approved the rezoning for the former Energizer factory a little over a week ago. It is one of the last empty factories available in Grey or Bruce County.

“This building here, for the past year, was the only empty factory in all of Bruce or Grey County, only empty warehouse factory of its style. Of course, now there’s the empty Monroe plant in Owen Sound, but a lot of empty buildings had been scooped up with the Bruce Power restart,” says Peabody.

The next challenge will be finding workers for the marijuana growing facility.

Before the pandemic, Midwestern Ontario, including Bruce and Grey counties, had the lowest unemployment rate in the entire province.