Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 25, 2012 - 11:18 am

Temporary relief jail in Iqaluit comes with steep price tag for Nunavut

Early cost estimate of $8.5 million might reach $15 million, justice minister says

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
The Government of Nunavut may spend as much as $15 million on a structure that will deal with the overflow at the Baffin Correctional Centre. (FILE PHOTO)
The Government of Nunavut may spend as much as $15 million on a structure that will deal with the overflow at the Baffin Correctional Centre. (FILE PHOTO)

(updated Oct. 27, 10:30 a.m.)

A new relief jail may cost as much as $15 million, MLAs learned Oct. 24 when Nunavut justice minister Daniel Shewchuk defended his capital request for $8.5 million to pay for the structure, during committee of the whole discussions at the Nunavut legislature.

Last March, Shewchuk announced the Government of Nunavut wanted to set up a temporary jail in Iqaluit to relieve the overflow of territorial inmates at the Baffin Correctional Centre.

Shewchuk said the “Baffin Correctional Centre Overcrowding Relief Structure,” which will be built next to the BCC, could cost as much as $15 million after final costs are estimated.

That left some MLAs confused about exactly what they would be approving in his department’s capital request.

Shewchuk told them that if they approved the $8.75 million “we will be back in the winter sitting with a supplemental bill for approximately $6 million.”

“You’ll know that that’s going to be coming if we get approval for this,” he said.

In the draft 2013-14 capital estimates, this relief structure is shown to cost about $8,575,000.

Shewchuk said there will be additional operating and maintenance costs required to operate this facility.  He said 12 more people will be required to operate the relief facility at an estimated cost of about $1,542,000 a year.

The temporary “relief structure” will be used “in years to come,” Shewchuk said.

It will continue to “provide programming to offenders following construction of a new larger facility replacing the present Baffin Correctional Centre,” he said.

Half of the structure is going to be designated to mental health inmates, with the balance used to deliver programs, education programs, schooling, and cultural program.

Members questioned the choice of “Baffin Correctional Centre Temporary Housing Structure” to describe the new structure, which Shewchuk said would be “structure we will always use.”

‘Given that it is apparent that the new rapid deployment structure will be in use for the indefinite future, a more accurate project title would be welcomed,” suggested Nattilik MLA Jeannie Ugyuk, speaking on behalf of the standing committee.

Ugyuk also noted that the new jail has been fast-tracked, with a contract awarded to Stantec Inc.

The standing committee encouraged Shewchuk to provide regular updates to the Legislative Assembly on correctional services — including updates on the status of the new jail in Rankin Inlet, due to open early in 2013, as well as “any initiatives on the part of the department to explore options for expanding the facility.”

Shewchuk said Oct. 25 that the GN eventually plans construct a more permanent jail “for all of our inmates.”

“Hopefully we could house all of our inmates from the territory within our territory at some point in time into the future. That is going to take a huge amount of negotiation, funding, and funding sources to do that,” he said.

The cost of a new jail could cost from $150 million to $200 million.

“This is going to be a major capital project when it does take place,” Shewchuk said. “Up until that time happens, we need to do something and this is our attempt and answer to do something about the problem we’re facing.”

The request for $8.75 million was approved Oct. 25.

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