Land seized from convicted drug dealer now new riverside park in Peterborough

Click to play video: 'OFAH and city open McNamara Park on Otonabee River in Peterborough' OFAH and city open McNamara Park on Otonabee River in Peterborough
A new Peterborough waterfront park opens on a property with a shady past. – May 24, 2019

A riverside property once belonging to an infamous drug dealer in Peterborough has been transformed into a public park.

On Thursday, city staff and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters officially opened the new McNamara Park — a sprawling site along the shore of the Otonabee River in the city’s south end.

READ MORE: Construction at Peterborough’s urban park to begin end of May or early June

For years a fortified mansion belonging to Bob Pammett, a convicted drug dealer and biker, sat on the property on McNamara Drive. The house and land were seized in 2008 under proceeds of crime legislation following Pammett’s arrest. Two years later he pleaded guilty to several drug-related charges.

At that point, the city and OFAH, which owns land across from the site, began discussions about other uses for the property.

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In 2016, a deal was struck to build a park and a year later, the decommissioned mansion was demolished. The house was built in the 1990s.

McNamara Park is named for the original farm just south of the property.

“It’s an example of what happens when the community comes together and makes the best out of a questionable situation, so this is a great addition to what OFAH is doing,” said Peterborough Mayor Dianne Therrien. “It’s a great addition to our parks and rec department.”

The park is designed to inform and educate the public.

“There’s pollinator gardens, there’s interpretive trails, there’s signage talking about the fishes of the Otonabee River, there’s great fishing opportunities,” said OFAH executive director Angelo Lombardo.

“There’s information on the importance of stopping invasive species, so the park offers lots of great learning experiences.”

Each year, the federation runs school programs on conservation and wildlife at the Mario Cortellucci Hunting and Fishing Heritage Centre across from the park. Lombardo says having the park available will enrich the children’s educational experience.

READ MORE: Tent dwellers in Peterborough park getting the boot

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“When you make learning fun, children really do enjoy it, and they’ll leave here after a day of learning, which is part of their day at school, and they’re not even going to think they’re at school,” he said. “They just had a great time and the learning experience was excellent.”

McNamara Park is one of several city parks located on the water, including Beavermead, Millenium and Del Crary.

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