Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landry's decision to build one provincial correctional facility in a central location instead of one each in Cumberland and Antigonish Counties will, according to the minister, save Nova Scotia taxpayers approximately $5.5 million dollars in construction costs and an estimated $1.7 million annually in operating costs. Seems fairly straightforward, don't you think? Think again.
As is the case in any issue, the devil is in the details. The facts of the matter make this issue less clear than it is purported to be by the newly minted NDP government in Halifax.
First, the minister must compare oranges to oranges. The tentative plan for the two replacement facilities was for one 100-bed facility and one 50-bed jail. The newly proposed single facility is a 100 bed jail. Of course it will cost less — it’s smaller!
Second, the Cumberland Correctional Facility has been an important part of the local economy in Cumberland County for over 100 years. It has provided well-paying jobs that, up to now, have not disappeared at a moment's notice, it has provided a skilled workforce that has lived here and shopped here as well as the other economic spin-offs of the facility. It has provided stability during times of local layoff as industries come and go. With the stroke of a pen, Minister Landry and his cabinet colleagues have stripped all of these benefits from Cumberland County.
To add insult to injury, within days of announcing that Cumberland County was out of the mix as the location for the replacement facility, Minister Landry was gleefully telling the New Glasgow News that “this is a good thing, it could be a great news story” as he extolled the virtues of locating the facility in the heart of Pictou County, which he just happens to represent in the House of Assembly. He told The News that “having a jail there would mean extra police in the area — and will also mean bringing a skilled workforce into the area who will have to live here and shop here, as well as the economic spin-offs of the jail.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
It's familiar because Minister Landry is playing politics. He's playing fast and loose with the economy of
I believe, as do my municipal colleagues in
Then there is the issue of transporting inmates from Court in
Finally, Minister Landry's site selection "process" is questionable at best. The Minister would have Nova Scotians believe that the site selection process is ongoing through a thoughtfully considered, well documented approach. I can only conclude that this is not the case. Repeated calls for the study or even for its terms of reference have gone unanswered. In fact a review of local and regional media articles reveals that municipal units throughout Pictou and
There are just too many things wrong with this picture. There are presently correctional facilities in the "corners' of the province, namely,
What's next Mr. Premier? An RFP to move the provincial welcome centre in
If this centralized decision making model continues to be used by the present NDP government, we in
We will never be the geographic centre of
Councillor Robert Bird, Amherst NS
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