Campus-like design chosen for new Nanaimo Correctional Centre

New jail for Nanaimo

A new $157-million Nanaimo Correctional Centre will have a college-campus-like design that puts the emphasis on the facility’s training and therapeutic programs and takes advantage of the natural setting.

A dozen new buildings within a fenced enclosure on the 47-acre property are envisioned by architect IBI Group for Stuart Olson Construction Ltd., the firm heading the design-build project to replace the old jail.

Inmates will be able to take advantage of educational, vocational and certified trades training, as well as Indigenous programming developed in collaboration with the Snuneymuxw and Snaw’Naw’As First Nations. Some training will be offered in partnership with Vancouver Island University.

The correctional centre, which houses men with a medium-security classification, will also become Vancouver Island’s first provincial custody unit for women, providing a place for women in short-term custody who are on remand or waiting to be transferred to serve a sentence.

A phased development plan will see the facility continue to operate while existing buildings are taken down and new construction is completed on the sloping site, which runs from Biggs Road down to the lake.

Architectural documents ­submitted to the City of Nanaimo show the new facility’s capacity at 202 inmates, up from the ­current 190. Staff numbers would rise to 165 from 124.

Architect Tony Gill told the advisory panel the goal is to create a small campus on the property, with numerous ­walking paths.

The province said in 2019 that it favoured a campus-style configuration for the remodelled and modernized correctional facility, originally developed as a reform school in 1953.

The total floor area for all the buildings will be 182,039 square feet.

Outdoor features include a playing field near Biggs Road, a spiritual area within the trees, various sizes of dining rooms, a healing garden, outdoor common plazas, outdoor dining, an amphitheatre and seating.

The province estimates construction of the new facility will create about 650 direct and 275 indirect jobs.

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