Jail expansion on time and on budget, Ministry reports

Matt Gardner
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Construction on a new building at the Prince Albert Correctional Centre is shown from above.

A project to expand the Prince Albert Provincial Correctional Centre (PAPCC) is proceeding on time and on budget, according to a Ministry of Justice spokesperson.

Communication consultant Janice Wilby said the ongoing expansion project, which began in March 2013, is currently scheduled for completion in March 2015.

“It’s actually anticipated that the offenders will be transitioned into that building shortly after that time,” she said.

The $24-million, three-year expansion will create a new two-storey secure living unit with 72 cells housing beds for 144 inmates.

While Wilby noted that PAPCC inmate counts fluctuate “by the minute,” according to the most recent daily average inmate count, the jail currently has 410 inmates, including 241 sentenced inmates and 169 remanded inmates.

By contrast, the total capacity for the existing facility is 344 inmates -- after which officials must begin using program and classroom space to house them.

Such has been the case at the PAPCC as the result of overcrowding, which has obliged overseers at the jail to begin using contingency spaces by setting up cots for inmates in classrooms.

Underscoring the degree to which the expansion will ease the overcrowding problem, Wilby noted, “It’s a 72-cell, so that leaves room for another 144 beds that’ll be added on top of the 344 -- plus you also have the contingency space on top of that.

We were under budget the first two years and overbudget last year. Janice Wilby

“So yeah, it’ll go a long way.”

This year’s budget includes $15 million for the expansion project.

The budgeting process, however, can be more complex than it appears on the surface.

“You can’t add up all the allocated dollars each fiscal year and use it to conclude the total project cost,” Wilby said. “Cash flow shifts between years, but there’s no change to the original cost of projects.

“So for example, we were under budget the first two years and overbudget last year, and then the budget was pushed into the next fiscal year (because) construction didn’t start as originally planned,” she added. “But the three years will net out to be on budget.”

“Long story short -- the project remains on time and on budget.”

Hiring of new staff members at the expanded facility is expected to begin next year, with as many as 100 positions set to be filled in advance of the official opening.

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