North

New Iqaluit jail unlikely to break ground this summer as planned

The government of Nunavut cancelled the request for proposals to build the Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre after only one company bid on the project.

There was only 1 bid on the government's contract to build the new jail, and it was over budget

Baffin Correctional Centre's new design. The new facility, called Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre, was to begin construction this summer. The new facility was to begin with construction of a two-storey maximum security unit, then renovate the existing jail to create two medium security living units. (Government of Nunavut Department of Justice)

Construction on the new Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre may not go ahead this summer, as planned.

Last week, the government of Nunavut cancelled the request for proposals to build Iqaluit's new jail after only one company bid on the project.

The lone bid was for $74.8 million from Pilitak Enterprises Ltd., and was nearly $7 million over the government's remaining budget for the project.

The entire project's price tag is $76 million, but $8 million has already been allocated for design and foundation, leaving $68 million for construction costs.

In an interview with CBC News, Chris Stewart, the manager of capital and special projects for Nunavut's Justice Department, stuck to his speaking points in emphasizing the government's commitment to the project.

But he couldn't say how far back this will push construction.

A six-person dorm room in the medium security unit at the Baffin Correctional Centre (BCC). In 2015, the Department of Justice admitted that cramped conditions at BCC may be unreasonably exposing inmates to diseases, such as tuberculosis. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

"The sole bidder coming in over budget is a setback, but the Department of Justice and the Department of Community and Government Services are going to work together to explore all options to make sure this project moves forward," Stewart said.

"Anybody who has family members living and working in that building, should know that we will be continuing to push this forward to make sure this project becomes a reality."

New facility to replace decrepit, notorious, jail

The new Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre was announced in 2016 as a bigger and improved version of the decrepit Baffin Correctional Centre.

The notorious Iqaluit jail has been referred to in previous CBC stories as "a cardboard prison," "nothing short of appalling," and a "constitutional risk." It has been under national scrutiny for a number of years.

In 2015, Canada's auditor general said the jail put the safety of inmates and staff at risk., and a 2014 report called for the facility to be shut down.

A bathroom inside the Baffin Correctional Centre in Nunavut in 2015. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

The new facility was to begin with construction of a two-storey maximum security unit, then renovate the existing jail to create two medium security living units.

The new facility will hold 112 inmates and is expected to meet modern security standards.

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