Okanagan jail deal done, construction to start in August

A sign advises caution on a secondary access road built to service the jail in Oliver. Major construction is expected to begin in August - Joe Fries/Western News
A sign advises caution on a secondary access road built to service the jail in Oliver. Major construction is expected to begin in August
— image credit: Joe Fries/Western News

Blueprints are in the final design stage and major construction work on the Okanagan Correctional Centre is expected to get underway in August, the B.C. Justice Ministry announced Tuesday.

The project can move forward now that the ministry has signed a final agreement with Plenary Justice, a consortium of companies that will design, build and partially finance the 378-cell jail near Oliver.

“I’m thrilled,” said Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes.

“We’re talking 260-plus jobs at the end of the day after it’s built, we’re talking hundreds of jobs over the next two years while it’s being built,” he said.

South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce president Myers Bennett said he hasn’t heard of any locals who have secured work for the project yet, but noted Plenary Justice will be able to hire all types of services from a project registry created for the project. The registry had 475 names on it as of this month.

“Our job pretty well now is just kind of feeding information to people who want to know about housing in Oliver, Osoyoos and Okanagan Falls,” Bennett said.

The 30-year contract governing the public-private partnership to build the jail is valued at $193 million, the Justice Ministry said in a press release.

At least $115 million of the construction cost is expected to come through a Plenary Justice bond issue, documents for which also revealed the B.C. government would chip in an initial $72 million, followed by unspecified monthly payments to its private-sector partner.

Plenary Justice spokesman Michael Marasco could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

He said in the release his group is “excited to begin our local hiring and launch construction work on this critical piece of infrastructure.

“We are committed to delivering the Okanagan Correctional Centre on time and on budget, and British Columbians can be assured our track record of finding innovation and sustainable solutions for public infrastructure and providing excellent value for taxpayer dollars will continue.”

According to the release, workers are already clearing soil from the construction site, putting up fencing and ensuring unspecified environmental protections are in place.

The jail is expected to be complete in the fall of 2016, when it will anchor the Senkulmen Business Park owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band, which granted a 60-year lease and utilities service agreement to the B.C. government.



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