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Prep work underway at northwestern Ontario correctional facilities

Builds in Thunder Bay, Kenora to be complete by 2022
Thunder Bay District Jail Summer
The construction of a new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex is slated to replace the existing correctional facility (pictured). (TBNewsWatch photo)

Early site prep work is underway in advance of construction of the Thunder Bay Correctional Complex and the Kenora Jail.

In an Oct. 13 news release, the province indicated that “Infrastructure Ontario, through its contractors, are undertaking environmental, geotechnical, survey, archaeological and site servicing work within the secure perimeter at both facilities.

“Tendering and construction of the new expansion projects in Thunder Bay and Kenora is expected to be completed by spring 2022.”

A Request for Proposals (RFP) is currently being developed for the Thunder Bay facility, and is expected to be released by early 2021, the release added.

The province said it would solicit input from Indigenous leadership and organizations to ensure various aspects of the facilities are culturally appropriate.

The construction of a new Thunder Bay correctional facility, in particular, is well overdue. The current structure, which was built in 1928, has long been plagued by crowded conditions, riots, and multiple deaths of inmates while in custody.

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A new facility was approved for the long list of future infrastructure projects in 2017, and the province confirmed this past June that it was moving forward under the public-private partnership (P3) program.

With 325 beds, and enhanced design efficiency, technology and space, the new Thunder Bay facility will replace the city’s existing jail and correctional facility.

Its value is estimated at $200 million to $499 million.

In conjunction with the new builds, the province is planning to introduce literacy, skills development and technology programs that support safe community reintegration.

The province said the two projects are part of its overall plan to spend $500 million over five years to “transform correctional services and improve health and safety through new hiring and infrastructure improvements.”