The B.C. government announced $157 million in capital funding Monday to replace the Nanaimo Correctional Centre (NCC).

According to the government, the new centre will have a “campus-style configuration to maximize the use of the natural surroundings of Brannen Lake.” The plans include maintaining the 190-room capacity of the current centre (80 rooms for medium custody, 50 rooms for the Guthrie Therapeutic Community (GTC) and 60 rooms for secure and remand custody), adding a new 12-room unit for short-term custody for women on Vancouver Island, spaces for educational, vocational, certified trades and rehabilitative programming, specialized areas for food services, health care and working with those with complex mental health and other needs, and culturally responsive programming and spaces through collaboration with the Snuneymuxw and Snaw’Naw’As First Nations.

“NCC and the therapeutic community within it have an impressive history of changing lives for the better, and that’s a testament to the hard work of both staff and people in our custody,” Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said.

“We envision a new centre that will better support staff and enhance NCC’s unique, effective programs, including the Guthrie Therapeutic Community (GTC) and vocational and educational programs delivered in partnership with Vancouver Island University.”

The government said the replacement will create approximately 1,000 project-related jobs.

Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo, said the existing centre will stay open during construction. The NCC was originally built as a reform school and was one of two provincial centres housing only sentenced, open and medium classified individuals who do not require higher levels of supervision. The GTC substance treatment program at the centre accepts sentenced men from correctional centres throughout B.C.

Clearing for the new centre will be cleared by this summer. BC Corrections expects the new centre to open in spring 2023 and said it will be a net-zero energy-ready facility. The government said this means the facility will reduce energy usage to the lowest level possible with available technologies and has the infrastructure to support future energy production.

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