THUNDER BAY — The Ontario government has selected Bird Construction Inc. to complete infrastructure expansion projects at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre and Kenora Jail. The new spaces will improve the safety of staff and inmates and expand access to programming and services.
The announcement was made virtually on Zoom.
Solicitor General Jones promises that the changes announced will improve access to mental health services for in custody.
“Our government continues to take action to enhance the safety of frontline staff while working to improve programming for inmates, including supports specifically tailored to Indigenous individuals,” says Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We remain committed to working with frontline staff and our justice partners to strengthen our corrections system and public safety in the North.”
The Solicitor General says, “Construction of the new structures at both correctional facilities will help increase access to literacy, skills development and technology programs that support safe community reintegration. This investment will also help address overcrowding in Kenora and Thunder Bay ahead of construction of the new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex”.
The successful bidder, Bird Construction Inc., is contracted to design and build the expansion projects in Thunder Bay and Kenora, with construction set to begin in April 2021 and be completed by spring 2022. The company was selected as the successful proponent following an open two- stage competitive and accelerated bid process.
These planned projects, announced in October 2020, build on other public safety initiatives designed to create a culturally relevant and responsive justice system in Ontario. They are also part of the government’s strategy to invest more than $500 million over five years to transform correctional services and improve health and safety through new hiring and infrastructure improvements.
“Thanks to our Rapid Procurement and Delivery model, we are delivering more critical infrastructure projects across the province like these two correctional facilities,” said Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure. “We will continue to work with communities across Ontario like Thunder Bay and Kenora, to invest in local priorities and build, renew and modernize the infrastructure that people rely on and that help boost our economy.”
“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,” said Greg Rickford, MPP, Kenora-Rainy River, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “The expansion of both sites will ensure Northwestern Ontario’s justice system is equipped with safe and modern facilities that are responsive to the needs of Indigenous people and communities here in the Northwest.”
Indigenous leadership and organizations will have input into the culturally appropriate spaces and aspects of the facilities.
“These are much-needed improvements and we acknowledge the Solicitor General’s commitment to improving living conditions and providing more culturally relevant and inclusive supports for inmates,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “It is vital that Indigenous inmates remain connected to their culture as Ontario works to provide long-term solutions for these facilities. 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 OPSEU Ministry Employee Relations Committee is very pleased with this most recent announcement,” said Chris Jackel, Co-Chair of the Corrections Ministry Employee Relations Committee. “This government is moving quickly on their promises to address the unique pressures in the North, and these infrastructure expansions will prove to be beneficial for the safety of staff and inmates. We thank the Solicitor General for the investment and continued collaboration.”