A new correctional facility in Pictou County will inject millions into the provincial economy during its construction and create scores of good jobs in the years ahead, Justice Minister Ross Landry says.
Landry was joined Monday at an official groundbreaking ceremony by Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Maurice Smith, local MLAs Clarrie MacKinnon and Charlie Parker, Pictou County Warden Ronald Baillie, community representatives, law enforcement and correctional services and sheriff staff.
Elder Sarah Francis from the Pictou Landing First Nation provided a smoke blessing to open the ceremony.
“This is an exciting time for Pictou County and the justice system,” Landry said.
“I have been looking forward to this day since becoming justice minister in 2009. This facility will create many good jobs for the area. I look forward to watching the facility take shape, knowing that we will soon have a safer, more efficient correctional system.”
The new facility, which replaces two aging jails, will make the correctional system in Nova Scotia safer and more efficient by reducing capacity pressures at other facilities, Landry said.
“Construction projects of this magnitude are never easy,” he said. “The timelines and cost estimates fluctuate and, most importantly, stakeholder and community concerns need to be addressed. So, while the steps that lead to today may have taken longer than we originally projected, we followed the right process to get here.”
Landry said crime prevention needs to be stressed despite the ongoing need for correctional facilities, he said.
“There are people in society who do bad things and must pay the price for their actions,” he said. “That said, we cannot arrest our way into a crime-free society.”
The province awarded the construction tender for the project to Bird Construction on July 3, the third and final phase of the project.
Pine Breeze Logging Services, a Mi’kmaq firm, cleared the trees and prepared the land for construction in September 2011. Over the winter, Nova Construction Co. completed site preparation work, which included installing sewer, storm and water lines. The Town of New Glasgow and the Municipality of the County of Pictou also worked to bring water, storm and sewer infrastructure to the site.
The Municipality of Pictou County appreciates the investment, Baillie said.
“On behalf of the County of Pictou, we appreciate this investment in infrastructure of the jail that will provide long-term benefits to the county through construction, full-time jobs and services,” he said.
It is expected the facility to be complete in mid-2014. There will be more than 100 jobs at the facility, 70 of them new positions.
Key features of the facility include, 81,000 square feet in size, 200 beds, six day rooms, health and dental suites, electronic drug detection systems and state-of-the-art closed-circuit TV monitoring.