The public is getting its first glimpse of what the new $167-million Nanaimo Correctional Centre will look like.
The new facility will replace the existing medium-security jail, which was built nearly 70 years ago as a boys’ reform school.
One neighbour says the upgrade is long overdue, and likes how the recently released renderings look.
“Maintenance costs are getting out of line, I’m sure, and as I understand it there’s going to be all levels of inmates here as well, so I think it’s great,” said Doug Martin, who lives across the road from the jail.
The B.C. government announced the project was going ahead in June 2019.
The architect says the 12 new buildings will have a campus-like feel to support learning and growth, and the design maintains existing trees where possible.
“It’s a pretty interesting building to take a look at from a design perspective because it’s not something that typically comes across the desk or for council’s consideration,” said Tyler Brown, a Nanaimo city councillor who sits on the city’s Design Advisory Panel.
Brown says the facility should help people recover and rehabilitate, and the new renderings reflect that.
“They did a pretty good job in terms of trying to maximize that natural setting; there’s Indigenous components, Indigenous healing spaces, outdoor amphitheatres, universally accessible trails.”
Once completed, the site should also look better for those driving by, Martin said.
“We won’t see any of the facility except for the administration tower nearest the road, so the rest will be below road level, so as you’re driving by it’s a little nicer view.”
The new facility will have 202 cells, 12 more than the existing jail, and will include Vancouver Island’s first provincial custody unit for women.
Construction is slated to start this spring.
The BC Government announced in December that Stuart Olson Construction will build the facility.