The buck will stop here
Kakfwi adament new correctional facilities are to be in capital city

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 13/99) - Yellowknife will be the site for the new YCC and male young offenders facility with a conceptual design set to start soon, according to Justice Minister Stephen Kakfwi.

"The staff are here. We've got a committed, hard- working staff and many of them are aboriginal," Kakfwi said as he viewed the grounds south of the current facility.

"We're not about to dismiss all of them and start all over again. We don't have the grounds to do that."

Kakfwi said he intends to keep the public informed during all the planning stages and "people will be aware as we move on starting in September."

But before shovels start turning up soil, the exact site on the current YCC grounds needs to be determined.

Territorial land set aside as a corrections reserve stretches from the current YCC facility to Kam Lake and then back to Kam Lake Road and around the cement plant.

"It's a huge piece of property and different sites on the land are still being considered," said John Dillon, director of corrections.

Determining the location for the facilities, included various factors of which the cost of the building figures strongly.

Don Cooper, deputy minister of Justice, said the total cost of both the young offenders and the new adult facility is pegged at $35.2 million.

The young offenders facility was originally estimated at $6.4 million with the new YCC estimated at $35 million so the $35.2 million combined total is a significant saving, he said.

Other factors Dillon said that influenced the decision of which site to build on include parking, access back and forth to the community, ability to get services from the city, and the ability to carry out functions of a correctional facility on the piece of land.

"It could be that some of the land is too rough to build on and the costs will be too high so we couldn't build there (at other locations)," he said.

"It has to be close enough to the road so that services can get in cheaply."

Dillon said the topography of the area lends itself to the facility being more secluded and less "in the face of the community."

If the chosen site is near Kam Lake, the water could be used in some wildlife or on-the-land programs.

Dillon said two other facilities exist in the North which sees adult and young offenders close to each other.

In Iqaluit there is a young offenders facility about 100 feet away from the male adult facility.

In Fort Smith there is an adult female facility with property adjacent to the River Ridge young offenders facility, he said.

"(The buildings will be) much further apart than many of the buildings that we have in the territories now."

Even though no deadlines have been set for choosing the site or for the conceptual design, the proposed facility is set to open July 1, 2001, as that is the date when the young offenders facility in Hay River is set to be condemned by the fire marshall.

The current YCC site was built for 32 inmates in 1967 and grew to house 210 inmates.