New jail, old location

The jail isn’t moving. After scouting a few sites, including a parcel of Kwanlin Dun land in the Industrial Area, the Yukon government will…

The jail isn’t moving.

After scouting a few sites, including a parcel of Kwanlin Dun land in the Industrial Area, the Yukon government will build a new correctional centre in the same spot as the old one.

“It allows the work to begin without delay and is the most effective choice,” Justice Minister Marian Horne told reporters Friday morning.

The new facility will use the footprint laid down in front of the current centre. That saves more than $1.3 million in site-preparation work.

Officials would not estimate the cost of a new facility.

“Everything is changing,” said assistant deputy minister Bob Riches. “The construction market is changing as we speak with the volatile labour market and all of those things.”

Though the national trend is to build correctional centres away from residential areas, the chosen site sits beside Takhini Elementary School, Yukon College, the Yukon Arts Centre, the softball complex, and is surrounded by Takhini North, East and West.

“The correctional centre has been there for 40 years and we think it’s been a good neighbour,” said Riches.

“The correctional centre provides a good source of employment and it’s a clean industry.

“It will be secure and won’t cause concern for the neighbours.”

The existing jail is 40 years old and was built to house 36 inmates. It currently holds up to 80.

“It’s basically a group of dorms surrounding a library,” said Riches.

The new centre will have 72 cells, which can be amended to double-bunk inmates.

It will have special facilities to house inmates with mental health issues and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

“We are adamant that this is not a jail — it is not there for punishment,” said Horne.

“The new facility will offer security but it will also offer offenders a chance to heal and take responsibility for their actions.”

Aboriginal people make up 75 per cent of Yukon’s inmate population.

First Nations leaders have been involved in the planning process.

“I think it’s very exciting news and to me it’s an example of how we can get things done if we work on a government-to-government basis,” said Council of Yukon First Nations chief Andy Carvill after the announcement.

Site preparation is slated to begin in 2007 and construction in 2008. The goal is to open in 2011.