Construction to begin on new Fort Smith women's correctional unit

Crews building a new women's unit at the Fort Smith Correctional Complex will break ground today.

Safety at the current facility was criticized by auditor general

From left, Salt River First Nation Chief Freida Martselos, Smith's Landing First Nation councillor Agnes Cheezie, Justice Minister Louis Sebert, Craig Browne with CAB Construction and Fort Smith Mayor Lynn Buckley break ground for the new women’s unit of the Fort Smith Correctional Complex. (N.W.T. Dept. of Justice)

Work on the new women's unit at the correctional complex in Fort Smith, N.W.T., is set to begin in the coming months.

N.W.T. Justice Minister Louis Sebert attended a groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site today, along with community leaders and guests.

The new unit, which will accommodate up to 23 inmates, is expected to be ready by mid-2019.

The site plan for the new Fort Smith women's correctional unit. (N.W.T. Dept. of Justice)

Fort Smith company CAB Construction won a $23.6 million contract to build the new facility.

"Residents of Fort Smith will see increased activity on the site from now until the new structure is ready mid-2019," according to a government press release. 

The current women's facility is about 50 years old and houses 20 inmates.

The current women’s facility, pictured here, is about 50 years old and houses 20 inmates. (Submitted)

Two years ago, an auditor general's report gave the jail a scathing review.

Among other things, it found that locks used on the facility's doors were creating a fire hazard, and that there were blind spots in the security camera system.