As the deadline approaches for a report to reach Valemount council on the potential for a prison in the village, spokespeople from B.C. Corrections and Corrections Canada say there is no intention to expand this way anytime soon.
Alain Charette, Spokesperson for Corrections Canada Pacific Region, says that from the federal perspective, nothing new is on the radar anywhere.
“I checked with Ottawa and our response is quite simple: there are no plans to build new federal correctional institutions at this time.”
Alain also says that any new capacity will be developed on the sites of existing institutions.
B.C. Corrections echoed the federal government’s stance.
Marnie Mayhew, spokesperson for B.C. Corrections, says the province has already developed a three-phase capital plan. Only three projects under phase one has been approved for funding at this time: the Prince George Regional Corrections Center has been expanded by 20 cells. These cells are for female inmates and the project should be completed within a month. In the lower mainland, The Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, a medium-security facility for low-risk offenders, will also be expanded by 104 cells to accommodate higher risk inmates. This will free up more space for male inmates at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre which will also be expanded by 180 cells.
These projects should be completed by early 2011, Mayhew says. She adds that while there are additional demands from around the province at this point in time, there is no approved funding for any projects beyond the first phase.
Valemount is not the only interior B.C. town lobbying for a correctional facility. The Bear Creek Correctional Center in Clearwater was closed in 2002. It was a minimum-security facility with an inmate-run sawmill. It was built to hold approximately 60 inmates. Recently, there have been calls from within the Clearwater community as well as by the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union to re-open the correctional centre.