Canadian Officials Address Inmate Population Growth
(05/17/2012)

VICTORIA, B.C. — Inmate populations are increasing in Canada — hitting an all-time average high of 1,429 for the 2008-2009 year, an increase of 69 percent over the average remand count five years ago.

Canadian officials have responded to the increase by signing an agreement with private vendor Brookfield Partnerships Surrey for the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre (SPSC) expansion project and beginning to accept requests for the new Okanagan detention center.

The 216-cell Surrey project will more than double the existing capacity at the facility and help to serve the overcrowding issue. The Province has set aside $185 million for a capital plan to expand correctional facilities — $90 million of which will be spent on the Surrey project. The expansion will offer 200 to 250 construction jobs and about 130 permanent, full-time jobs upon completion, including 100 correctional officer positions.

“Not only will correctional capacity be increased at Surrey Pretrial Services Center, but the supervision of offenders will be enhanced, resulting in an improved working and living environment for staff and inmates,” said Shirley Bond, Solicitor General of British Columbia.

The facility will open in late 2013 and will be designed to comply with LEED Gold certification, the highest level of sustainability ever achieved in a correctional facility in British Columbia.

“As one of the first correctional centers in Canada to achieve LEED Gold certification, Surrey Pretrial Services Center will continue to be an example to other jurisdictions in the years ahead,” said Kevin Falcon, Surrey-Cloverdale MLA. “We aren’t just creating more inmate space. We’re ensuring our facilities are sustainable and providing the best possible conditions for staff to work with inmates and each other.”

Brookfield Partnerships Surrey entered into a fixed price, performance-based partnership agreement with the Province to design, build, finance and maintain the SPSC over a 30-year operating term.

Okanagan Detention Center

The Okanagan Detention Center will open in 2015 and will house 700 inmates. The project has been gaining interest from several companies, including three of the five companies who worked on the Surrey project. The Request for Qualifications will be published by June 2012, and by June 2013 a winning team will be named for the project. In the next two to three years Surrey will add and additional 1,000 beds to house inmates in Provinces — typically inmates serving less than a year.

“What’s happening in Canada is there’s a shift in government with a new prime minister and a shift to get tough-on-crime,” said Joe McKenna, business developer for Oldcastle Precast Modular and Security. “The need to build these new facilities is in response to that and the anticipation of an increased inmate population.”

Okanagan Detention Center will be located in the Okanagan Valley on the Osoyoos Indian Band Territory. The facility will cost $200 million and will also offer work for 240 full-time employees.

Other areas around Canada are also responding to the influx of inmates. Toronto plans to add about 1,000 beds to address the overcrowding issue. Building is also taking place in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario — the three largest population areas in Canada.

While the Canadian provinces anticipate an increase in long-term inmates, new facilities would be too costly, resulting in expansion of the existing federal facilities instead, according to McKenna.

“They saw that being tough on crime was going to affect the system and they planned it a lot earlier,” said McKenna.

Correctional officials are worried about the inmate populations and increased spending on correctional facilities, but are trying to prepare for the changes, according to McKenna.

“I think the concern is that they’re going to turn into a U.S. system where the emphasis is more on incarceration instead of treatment programs,” said McKenna.

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