A new provincial prison is going ahead, but some are outraged it won’t be landing in Springhill.
Former Transportation Minister Murray Scott announced a new $18-million prison in Springhill back in April, shortly before the Tories lost power. This fall’s budget didn’t include money for the prison, but the NDP said they were still looking at building a new jail.
Yesterday, Justice Minister Ross Landry announced a new, 100-cell prison would be built to replace the aging Antigonish and Cumberland county corrections facilities. But Landry said Springhill likely does not meet the criteria for the $31-million prison.
While a location hasn’t been finalized, Landry said it needed to be central, near a 100-series highway and with easy access to essential services.
Scott accused Landry yesterday of moving the new jail to his Pictou County riding, which is still in the running.
“Make no mistake about it. This facility and these jobs are going to Pictou County. No matter what he said this morning about looking at Antigonish and looking at Truro, Pictou County is the site for this new facility,” Scott proclaimed.
Scott said the province had already acquired 30 acres of land for the jail in Springhill and sharing services with the federal penitentiary already there would have saved costs.
Springhill Mayor Allen Dill called the loss of the jail “devastating” and said the town was relying on the project to help it crawl out of the red.
But Landry said a staff report showed a single central prison would save millions of dollars in construction and operating costs.
“Our decision is based on the fiscal reality this province is in,” Landry told reporters in Halifax.
“It’s incumbent on me as the minister to take responsibility and ensure if we spend a tax dollar that we spend it soundly. And I feel that this is the best choice given our situation.”