Government pours concrete first, costs project later

If the government decides to expand the Whitehorse Correctional Centre's arrest processing unit 20 years from now, it will have plenty of space to do so.

If the government decides to expand the Whitehorse Correctional Centre’s arrest processing unit 20 years from now, it will have plenty of space to do so.

The concrete pad that the new arrest processing unit will sit on was poured – in-floor heating and all – before the plans for the building were finalized, and it’s too big – 90 square metres too big.

“What happened was there was a design that had been prepared and then after the slab was poured, the numbers coming in for the original design were about $2 million over budget so we kind of put a halt on the program, reviewed the design that had been originally done and decided that we could move forward with a redesign and keeping ourselves fiscally responsible and working within the budget that we had,” said Yukon Justice Minister Mike Nixon.

The arrest processing unit replaces the RCMP’s old drunk tank downtown. Its slab was poured last fall when construction crews were finishing work on the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The thought was that since crews were already on site anyway, the government could save some money by putting down the footprint for the new building early.

The old design was for a building with a footprint of 305 square metres, but in order to save money, the government redesigned it down to 215 square metres. They’ll still build it on the existing concrete pad. They’ll just have a lot more breathing room than they thought they would.

“So basically what will happen, the best analogy is a hockey stick. They’ll cut into the concrete where the blade starts, and pinch off the in floor heating and cap it, which is fine. In 15 or 20 years down the road when that APU is maybe at capacity, who knows, we’ve got a concrete pad and existing infrastructure that we can move onto,” Nixon said.

Part of the problem is that funding for the processing unit is shared between the Yukon government and the RCMP. When the price for the proposed new building came back at almost $7 million, the RCMP couldn’t pay their portion of the extra cost, Nixon said.

So the building was redesigned to a smaller size, but will still meet the operational requirements, Nixon said.

The arrest processing unit’s creation was recommended by the report into the death of Raymond Silverfox, who died in police custody in 2008. The report said an arrest processing unit should be built downtown to provide a safe place for arrestees to be monitored before they are charged and placed in cells. Instead, the government decided to build the unit at the Whitehorse jail, and budgeted $4.5 million for it.

The NDP’s justice critic Lois Moorcroft said the snafu is yet another example of the government’s poor project-planning skills.

“The way planning should be done is you design, and then you tender, and then you build. It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money to refuse to do the planning in the first place. They can’t make it up as they go along,” Moorcroft said.

She said the government has already spent $1.3 million on the project so far.

Neither Nixon nor the Department of Highways and Public Works could confirm the concrete pad’s cost to pour or what it will cost to cut and cap the in-floor heating.

Contact Jesse Winter at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Benjamin Poudou, Mount MacIntyre’s ski club manager, poses for a photo in the club’s ski rental area on Nov. 16. The club has sold around 1,850 passes already this year, compared to 1067 passes on Oct. 31 last year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Early season ski pass sales up as Yukoners prepare for pandemic winter

Season passe sales at Mount McIntyre for cross-country skiing are up by around 60 per cent this year

The City of Whitehorse will be spending $655,000 to upgrade the waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New waste heat recovery system coming to the CGC

Council approves $655,000 project

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read