Iqaluit’s “temporary” jail to be permanent: Nunavut justice minister
"Overcrowding relief structure" could cost $15-million
The proposed “temporary relief structure” for Iqaluit’s Baffin Correctional Centre will be a more permanent structure, Daniel Shewchuk, Nunavut’s minister of justice said in the legislative assembly March 19.
Shewchuk was responding to a question from Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt about whether the facility would be temporary or permanent.
The proposed jail was given the wrong title — a “temporary relief structure” — when the project was first announced, Shewchuk said.
It should have never been called that, he said.
The temporary jail was designed to relieve the overflow of territorial inmates at the BCC, built in the late 1980s to house 48, and to help deal with an expected increased in the number of inmates there.
That temporary “critical facility” is now being called an “overcrowding relief structure,” Shewchuk said.
Rumbolt asked what the design approach to the proposed jail includes.
“It’s going to be a steel structure,” Shewchuk said, instead of the tent-like structure that was first envisioned.
When asked to provide a copy of the structure’s design to the legislative assembly, Shewchuk said he would do that during the spring sitting.
No details were provided about the number of inmates who could be housed in the new “relief structure.”
The Government of Nunavut’s vision is to house all of Nunavut’s inmates, including those now at institutions in the Northwest Territories and in federal jails in southern Canada, Shewchuk said.
Shewchuk didn’t have any information on hand about how much a larger new jail would cost, but said it would be “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
In the draft 2013-14 capital estimates, the relief structure is shown to cost about $8.6 million but could cost up to $15 million.
Keith Peterson, Nunavut’s finance minister, said March 18 that the overcrowding at the BCC is an “immediate priority…the overcrowding situation threatens the health and safety of our employees out there and threatens the health and safety of the inmates at that facility.”
Peterson also said that right now there is no alternate location for the facility, so it will go next to the BCC.
“It made sense to put this facility in the area where we already have the Baffin Correctional Centre…the footprint is right there, the facilities can support each other.”
As of this past February, a response to a written question tabled Feb. 26 in the legislature said there were 83 inmates at the BCC, 13 at the Rankin Inlet Healing centre, six at the Kugluktuk Ilavut Centre and five at Nunavut women’s correctional centre.
Some 73 inmates are also in remand awaiting trial.
On March 19, the Lands and Planning Committee of the Iqaluit city council planned to meet to discuss the new “relief structure.”