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New arrest processing unit faces delays

The new arrest processing unit at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre is behind schedule and will not open as planned.

The new arrest processing unit at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre is behind schedule and will not open as planned.

Delays in material arriving means the unit won’t be completed until some time in mid April, instead of March as originally expected, the Department of Highways and Public Works confirmed.

Spokesperson Doris Wurfbaum said the building is currently about 90 per cent complete.

“The exterior work is complete, with the exception of the secure fencing. The mechanical and the electrical systems are at 90 per cent complete and the interior finishing work is ongoing,” she said.

Crews are waiting for the delivery of two specialty items - the secure fencing and the secure doors, Wurfbaum said.

They haven’t arrived in Whitehorse yet. Wurfbaum didn’t know where they were coming from.

In total, the project is slated to cost $4.98 million. About $3 million of that is for construction.

The remaining money is for things like the design, foundation, furniture and fittings.

The department insists that the delay in completion will not impact the budget.

The arrest processing unit’s creation was recommended by the report following the death of Raymond Silverfox, who died in police custody. It is designed to be a place where people can be monitored by trained medical staff if needed.

Since January 2012, the RCMP has been using a temporary location inside the correctional centre while this new building is constructed.

Whitehorse RCMP

Inspector Will Tewnion said everything has been going smoothly so far and a few weeks of delays in construction won’t change that.

“Not at all. We’ve been operating for some time under a temporary arrangement,” he said.

In the temporary location people are still able to get attention from specially trained corrections and medical staff, he said.

This is not the first time the management of the project has received public attention.

In May of last year the government was forced to spend $47,000 to fix the concrete slab it poured that ended up being 90 square metres too big.

Wurfbaum said the slab for the arrest processing unit was first poured when the Whitehorse Correctional Centre was being built, before plans for the unit were finalized.

That allowed connections for the heating, electrical and plumbing to be tied into the main building.

“The work was done at this time in order to take advantage of notable cost savings by using those contractors that were already on-site. It also avoided having to do major renovations after the completion of the main building,” Wurfbaum said.

The slab included in-floor heating.

When costs for the building came in $2 million over budget, the government decided to scale back its plans.

The old design was for a building with a footprint of 305 square metres, but to save money, the government redesigned it down to 215 square metres. That meant having to shrink the size of the slab.

That work cost $47,000 but was still significantly cheaper than the larger building, Wurfbaum said.

Once the new building is complete, there is no word on when it will begin being used.

Contact Ashley Joannou at