May 11, 2015 - 4:35 PM
PENTICTON - Grey concrete walls are going up on the desert bench at the Senkulmen Business Park north of Oliver for an institution that will be the first of its kind in the South Okanagan.
Construction of B.C.’s newest medium security prison, the Okanagan Correctional Centre, has been underway since site preparation began in April last year.
Four separate structures linked with a common corridor and a services block containing administration are currently under various stages of construction at the site.
Three of the structures, project manager Ken McCabe describes as “pods,” will eventually be home, for 500 inmates, on average.
The 30,000 square metre prison utilizes traditional slab on grade construction for the administrative centre, and modular technology for the three storey prisoner’s pods. An American company, Old Castle, is constructing the prefabricated prisoner’s cells in Spokane and trucking them to the site. The three pods are identical in construction, but each one is currently at a different stage of completion, with pod “C” furthest along.
“We’re rolling along quite well, but you’ve got to remember, this is construction — nothing ever goes entirely according to plan,” laughed McCabe.
The site currently employs between 120 and 150 workers. Principal contractor PCL Construction Westcoast is experienced in prison construction, having built the Surrey pre-trial Centre.
“We’ve applied the knowledge we learned from that project to this one, even though it is a little different facility,” McCabe says.
"Electronic security is a big part of this construction. It’s taken a lot of planning to design entranceways and doors, in order to have the necessary recesses and conduits for electronic locks and video monitors incorporated into pre-cast concrete. There was a lot of design work prior to construction,” he says.
The $190 million project is a P3 project involving PCL, who builds the facility, Plenary Justice will manage the overall project and Honeywell International has been contracted to operate the correctional centre over the next 30 years.
The site of the correctional centre is located in an environmentally sensitive area. A portion of the property is subject to a land agreement involving a habitat protected area. Active construction is avoided on this part of the property and a plastic barrier has been erected around the perimeter to prevent wildlife from encroaching on the site.
Anticipated completion date of the prison is September 2016.
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— This story was updated at 2 p.m., Tuesday, May 12, to reflect new information regarding inmate capacity of the correctional centre.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015