The provincial government has announced a $157-million project to build a new prison to replace the existing one in Nanaimo. (NEWS BULLETIN photo)

Province announces $157-million project to replace Nanaimo jail

Site clearing to begin this summer adjacent to current prison location

The provincial government has announced a $157-million project to build a new prison to replace the existing one in Nanaimo.

The Nanaimo Correctional Centre will be replaced, with a new facility to be contructed by 2023 next to the current location at Brannen Lake, according to a B.C. government press release.

“NCC and the therapeutic community within it have an impressive history of changing lives for the better, and that’s a testament to the hard work of both staff and people in our custody,” said Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general, in the release. “We envision a new centre that will better support staff and enhance NCC’s unique, effective programs.”

The province posted a request for qualifications for proponents to design and build the new facility. Approximately 1,000 construction jobs are expected to be created and site clearing will start this summer.

The ministry noted that the new centre will maintain the 190-room capacity of the current facility, including 60 rooms for secure custody. There will also be a new 12-room unit for short-term custody for women.

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Farnworth, in the press release, pointed to the Nanaimo Correctional Centre’s Guthrie Therapeutic Community and vocational and education partnerships with Vancouver Island University. The new correctional centre will “offer modernized spaces for educational, vocational, certified trades and rehabilitative programming.”

The province promises collaboration with the Snuneymuxw and Snaw-Naw-As First Nations to cupport culturally responsive programming.

Jinny Sims, minister of citizens’ services, said in the release that “replacing NCC will bring major regional economic benefits” and noted that it’s estimated work will provide approximately 650 direct and 275 indirect jobs, plus nearly 100 spinoff jobs associated with spending by those workers.

“Greenlighting NCC’s replacement is great news for construction jobs here in Nanaimo and a complement to the life-changing programs NCC’s team delivers,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo, in the release.

The ministry says it will be “business as usual” at the existing Nanaimo Correctional Centre as far as work routines and daily lives of individuals.

The release notes that the NCC was originally built as a reform school in 1953.

READ ALSO: B.C. solicitor general tours Nanaimo prison



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