Work will soon be underway to ease overcrowding for Northwest Ontario inmates in the interim before a planned new correctional complex is built in the region. Bird Construction has been awarded a design-build contract for expansions at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre and Kenora Jail through the provincial government’s fast-track infrastructure procurement process. It opened for proposals last fall and called on bidders to deliver completed projects by the spring of 2022.
“This is a key milestone in the expansion projects for the Kenora and Thunder Bay jails and an important step as we move these projects forward on an expedited timeline,” says Greg Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Indigenous Affairs and the member of provincial parliament for Kenora-Rainy River.
The expansions will create more space for education, skills training and cultural activities, which will be programmed with input from Indigenous leaders and organizations. That’s part of the government’s pledged $500-million investment over five years to improve the cultural responsiveness of the justice system and the physical condition of correctional facilities.
“It is vital that Indigenous inmates remain connected to their culture as Ontario works to provide long-term solutions for these facilities,” observes Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “This modular infrastructure will help alleviate pressures from overcrowding and we welcome these interim improvements for the safety of inmates in Kenora and Thunder Bay.”
The Ontario government has also indicated that a Request for Proposals for the new 325-inmate Thunder Bay Correctional Complex will be released early in 2021. It’s to be a design-build-finance-maintain contract.