Facility approved
Bylaws allowing offenders institution pass second reading

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

Inuvik (May 05/00) - The young female offenders facility will be in Inuvik but its exact location was being debated last week.

On Wednesday, Inuvik Town Council voted unanimously in favour of two bylaws to build the proposed young female offenders facility just east of Wolverine Road at Centennial Street.

Council's passing of the second reading of the bylaws came during the committee of the whole meeting, following a public zoning hearing on whether to amend the general plan bylaw and the zoning bylaw.

"I think it would be hard for town council not to take advantage of a $5-million capital project and the jobs this facility will bring," said Coun. Denny Rodgers in voicing his approval.

Speaking in favour of the facility at the meeting were Bob Cook, young offenders co-ordinator with the Justice Department in Yellowknife, and Karen Henry, regional young offenders co-ordinator for Inuvik and the Sahtu.

Cook described the all-female facility as both a territorial and Canadian first. He cited the large proportion of offenders coming from the Beaufort Delta -- 48 per cent -- as the reason for its location in Inuvik. He said the facility's annual operating budget would be between $1.3 million and $1.5 million, and would employ about 21 people, likely Aurora College graduates.

"That's a lot of money coming into this community, and we think it would be of benefit," he said.

Cook said the Justice Department carried out an extensive survey in selecting the facility's location. He said while similar facilities in Fort Smith and Hay River are found right on the main streets, the idea in Inuvik was to choose a spot not located in the middle of the community but not outside it either.

"The youth that are going to be incarcerated in this facility are members of our community and they need to stay a part of it," he said. "They must be able to walk to school or to the library and not be locked away behind closed doors. They must be free to participate in community-based activities."

Answering questions from council and deputy mayor Peter Clarkson, Cook said under the Young Offenders Act, the age of offenders is between 12 and 18, but some facility inmates may be as old as 20 when serving their time.

Henry said the attraction of the Inuvik location is that it is on "undeveloped, undamaged permafrost."

"Because of the fire marshall's requirements it won't be necessarily a light structure. There'll be extra layers, so we need substantial ground," she said.

Henry added the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs will be surveying the area this summer, and that tender construction may begin in the fall.

Inuvik's senior administrative officer, Don Howden, said all pertinent documents concerning the facility must now be forwarded to MACA for review before the bylaw comes back to council for the third and final reading.