In the midst of a speech about the need for economic development in Prince Albert, Mayor Greg Dionne planted the seed for a new penitentiary.
Catching word of federal funding toward prisons in the coming years, Dionne said during Thursday’s State of the City Address that he plans on meeting with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews in Ottawa.
“We’re going to go roll out the welcome wagon for a new penitentiary,” Dionne said.
With the federal government closing two penitentiaries in Ontario and Quebec, there will be a need, Dionne said.
It’s an important initiative to advocate for, he said, since it will “bring a lot of new jobs -- high-paying jobs, and lots of new opportunities for our community.”
Discussions around a new penitentiary are still in the very earliest of stages, RM of Prince Albert Reeve Normal Sheldon said after Dionne’s speech.
“We’re going to be pursuing it, but it’s a blue sky right now,” she said
The Saskatchewan Penitentiary is located within the RM of Prince Albert, though as Dionne said in his speech, any development in the area is of benefit to the city.
With land available, Sheldon said that she’s “very hopeful that the Correctional Services of Canada will look favourable on expansion, here.”
We’re going to go roll out the welcome wagon for a new penitentiary. - Mayor Greg Dionne
Also present at Thursday’s State of the City Address was Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback, who agreed that Prince Albert would be a prime location for a new penitentiary.
It is certainly something he said that he’d advocate for, should the federal government decide that another penitentiary is needed.
“We have a lot to offer and a lot of work dealing with inmates, and we have expertise in the community, so we would be a natural fit for a new penitentiary, if one should be available,” he said.
Although nothing is currently forecast, Hoback said that “to show the expression of interest is always a positive.”
“You never know what’s coming forward … they might be looking, they might not be looking at this point in time, but if they are looking at some point down the road they’ll remember the fact that we’re interested in looking at a possible selection.”
The Saskatchewan Penitentiary opened in 1911 and can accommodate up to 659 inmates. The facility currently employs about 560 people.