Construction Progresses on $1.2 Billion Thunder Bay Correctional Facility with Green Features

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Thunder Bay Jail architect conception - MINISTRY OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
Thunder Bay Jail architect conception - MINISTRY OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL

THUNDER BAY – NEWS – Construction crews are hard at work in Thunder Bay, Ontario, as they make significant progress on the construction of a state-of-the-art correctional facility. With a budget of $1.2 billion, this project is not only set to modernize correctional infrastructure but also prioritize sustainability and inmate rehabilitation.

Steel Superstructure Takes Shape

The 400,000-square-foot facility’s steel superstructure is now beginning to rise, marking a key milestone in its construction. Recently, the first precast concrete section was installed, a significant achievement considering it will require over 430 loads of concrete weighing a staggering 23 million pounds – more than the iconic Eiffel Tower.

Andrew Morrison, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General, noted that precast installations are underway, along with roofing, and interior underground systems installations as the project progresses.

Innovative Design Features

The Thunder Bay Correctional Complex aims to be a unique institution in Ontario, combining modern correctional elements with innovative design features that promote inmate rehabilitation. The complex’s steel superstructure will primarily consist of precast concrete, masonry, metal panels, and glazing.

The contract for this ambitious project was awarded in April 2022 to the EllisDon Infrastructure Justice team, which includes EllisDon companies, Zeidler Architecture Inc., and DLR Group. The project is being executed using a design, build, finance, maintain (DBFM) model, a procurement method known for delivering cost savings compared to traditional models.

Completion on Track for 2026

According to the ministry, the Thunder Bay Correctional Complex remains on track for completion in 2026. It will house 345 beds and consolidate the operations of the current Thunder Bay Jail and Thunder Bay Correctional Centre, both of which are among the oldest provincially run adult correctional facilities in Ontario.

EllisDon is actively engaging subcontractors as needed to ensure the successful completion of this expansive project.

Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Design

The complex is designed with energy efficiency in mind and is expected to achieve LEED Silver certification, emphasizing sustainability and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the project is pursuing LEED Resilient Design pilot credits through the United States Green Building Council.

Community Engagement and Inmate Focus

The Thunder Bay Correctional Complex has been shaped by community engagement, including input from Indigenous groups, community members, correctional staff, and stakeholders. The design emphasizes natural light, with multiple skylights, glazing, and clerestories to support mental health and overall well-being for staff and inmates.

Dedicated Indigenous cultural spaces, both indoors and outdoors, including a smudging space, sweat lodge, and teaching lodge, will be incorporated into the facility. Outdoor features will include a communal gathering space, greenhouse, and secure yard.

“The new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex will ensure correctional front-line staff have a modern facility, work environment, and supports needed to do their jobs safely and effectively provide secure and appropriate supervision of those in provincial custody,” concludes Morrison.

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