NANAIMO, B.C. – The province of B.C. has announced plans to replace the Nanaimo Correctional Centre (NCC). Officials have approved $157 million in capital for the project which is expected to create 1,000 jobs.
“NCC and the therapeutic community within it have an impressive history of changing lives for the better, and that’s a testament to the hard work of both staff and people in our custody,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in a press release. “We envision a new centre that will better support staff and enhance NCC’s unique, effective programs, including the Guthrie Therapeutic Community (GTC) and vocational and educational programs delivered in partnership with Vancouver Island University.”
The project will be built on provincial land next to the current NCC. The province has issued a request for qualifications at www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca.
“It’s estimated that replacing NCC will bring major regional economic benefits, including approximately 650 direct and 275 indirect jobs, plus nearly 100 spinoff jobs associated with spending by those workers,” said Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services, in a press release.
The design for the new facility will use a campus-style configuration to maximize the use of the natural surroundings of Brannen Lake.
The plans will maintain the 190-room capacity of the current centre but also add a new 12-room unit for short-term custody for women from Vancouver Island. The new facility will have modernized spaces the house educational, vocational, certified trades and rehabilitative programming, plus specialized areas for food services, health care and working with those with complex mental health and other needs.
Inmates will also be able to take advantage of culturally responsive programming and spaces through collaboration with the Snuneymuxw and Snaw’Naw’As First Nations.
The province explained that it intends to embrace a net-zero energy-ready performance for the building.
“Greenlighting NCC’s replacement is great news for construction jobs here in Nanaimo and a compliment to the life-changing programs NCC’s team delivers,” said Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo, in a press release. “While completion of this project is a few years away, I want everyone involved with the existing centre to know that it will be business as usual during the construction, with every effort made to mitigate disruptions to work routines and the daily lives of the individuals NCC supports,” Farnworth said.
Crews are expected to begin site clearing work this summer and BC Corrections expects it will be operational by spring 2023.
The original facility was constructed to be a reform school in 1953. It is one of two provincial correctional centres housing only sentenced, open and medium classified individuals who do not require higher levels of supervision.