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New prison near Surrey

The following is a press release issued by the provincial government:

The province will build a new secure, state-of- the-art corrections facility adjacent to the existing Surrey Pretrial Services  Centre and connected by tunnel to both the courthouse and police station, Solicitor General Kash Heed announced today.

Surrey was selected as the best location for the 180-cell facility after thorough evaluation against a number of criteria. Key considerations included project costs, zoning, environmental impacts, accessibility to major transportation routes, site services, project completion date, preservation of the agricultural land reserve and expansion potential.
Surrey was identified as one of four possible sites by a committee of metro-Vancouver mayors.

"Our government has made increased jail capacity a pillar of our seven-point gangs and organized crime strategy," said Heed. "I want to thank the metro Vancouver mayors, especially mayor Dianne Watts and her council, who came forward and volunteered locations in their communities, demonstrating their understanding of the necessity of getting gangsters and other dangerous criminals off our streets and behind bars."

Remand populations are on the rise everywhere in Canada. In 2008-09 the remand population increased to an all-time-high annual average count of 1,429 - an increase of 69 per cent over the average remand count five years ago. The provincial government's unprecedented support for policing, including nearly doubling the annual policing since 2001, has led to increased enforcement and a greater need for remand capacity.

In particular, the government's co-ordinated guns, gangs and organized crime strategy has resulted in 135 organized crime and gang members being arrested with approximately 350 serious offences since the strategy was unveiled in February. Increasing jail capacity is a key part of the government's seven-point gang and organized crime strategy, which balances the need for greater enforcement with more funding for anti-gang educational efforts to stop young people out from joining gangs.

The province will continue to work closely with the City of Surrey to in the lead up to construction of the facility and to communicate information about the project to residents. The new centre will primarily service courthouses outside of Vancouver and North Vancouver.

Construction of the new facility is expected to be completed by 2013. It is part of an overall capital plan worth $185 million - the largest in the Corrections branch's history. The new pretrial centre in Surrey will result in 180 new cells in the Lower Mainland.

Provincewide, through a variety of construction projects at a number of facilities, a total of 304 new cells, or a 19 per cent increase in capacity, is being added. The construction associated with these projects will generate about 200 new jobs.

This past spring, the province also invested $38.3 million of infrastructure funding for upgrades to correctional centres around B.C. This investment is over and above the $185-million corrections capital plan. This money is being directed at a number of projects, including better video-recording systems and reconfigured common areas, to improve inmate surveillance and staff safety. Work is also being done to establish secure work program space, upgrade segregation units, and enhance medical facilities.