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.


Fentie won’t devolve education

A co-chair of the education reform project is challenging Premier Dennis Fentie’s assertion the government “will never devolve public jurisdiction,” of the education system.

“The premier can’t have it both ways,” said Kaska project representative Liard McMillan in a release Friday.

“He is being inconsistent with Yukoners. Premier Fentie should not be taking a position on anything the education reform project is considering until their work is finished and the public is informed.”

McMillan, along with Education Minister Patrick Rouble and Council of Yukon First Nations representative Joe Linklater comprise the project’s executive.

The public system is failing Liard First Nation, and it must consider all solutions, said McMillan’s release.

That may affect how the system is managed and governed.

The government has rejected shared governance with First Nations.

Governance is the key issue being raised by people who stand to be most affected by reforms, said Liberal education critic Eric Fairclough on Thursday.

“Why can’t the premier be straightforward with Yukoners?,” Fairclough said in the legislature. “If he does not want to give Yukoners a direct say in how their children are educated, then he should at least stand up and say so.”

Fentie took the bait.

“Let’s put this on the record for clarity,” he said. “If the official opposition in this house wants to devolve or dilute public jurisdiction to another order of government, stand up and say so.

“A Yukon Party government will never devolve public jurisdiction, and that’s our position.” (TQ)

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