Premier not budging on jail decision

Darrell Cole
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Economics behind decision, not geography

AMHERST - It's highly unlikely the province is going to reconsider its plan to exclude Cumberland County from bidding on northern Nova Scotia's new jail.

Speaking to members of the media during a conference call from Sydney, Premier Darrell Dexter said the process being used to select the site of the jail is based on economics and best serving the facility's catchment area - not geography.

"The process is based on finding a central location for that facility," the premier said. "The decision was made on the basis of what the best value would be for the province."

Earlier this month, Justice Minister Ross Landry touched a nerve in Cumberland County when he announced his department is going to build one jail to serve the northern region of the province instead of building two to replace aging facilties in Amherst and Antigonish.

The county's five municipal leaders and Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott have asked the province to reconsider its exclusion of this area from the bidding process and have asked for an independent economic impact study.

With the province refusing to reconsider or even conduct the study, the municipal leaders and Scott are asking the regional development authority, CREDA, to conduct an economic impact study.

"Building one new jail will have a savings of about $5 million in capital costs and a savings of about $1.7 million in annual operations," Dexter said. "That and the fact it serves the correctional service more efficiently were the considerations more so than the geography. We don't base it on the location of the county line. We base it on which location would serve the province and the correctional service in the job it has to do."

When Landry announced the government plan, he said the decision of where to build would be based on the location of the busiest courts and proximity to the 104 highway. At the time, he said, Cumberland and Richmond counties are out of the mix.

"If the minister overseeing the process has said that then that is the case, I cannot add anymore or less to that discussion," Dexter said. "The siting of the facility will be based on what is in the best interests of the province as a whole on a business case basis."

While the premier said the decision would be based on the best business case, he said the information used by the province to decide to build one jail and where to locate it will remain confidential until after the province decides where to build the jail.

"Part of the issue is if you identify the geographic location of where you want the facility to go the result is the land value in that area will tend to go up," Dexter said. "We won't release that information until we've had an opportunity to site the facility."

Geographic location: AMHERST, Cumberland County, Sydney Antigonish Richmond

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Recent comments

  • Laughing
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    A recent article in the herald spoke of Dexter attending the Olympics.
    Dexter claims he has been invited by Campbell and given free tickets. However he failed to mention that NS has donated 1.5 million to the olympics by his government. And the previous government already spent two million!! At that time Dexter was not in power and Rodney was calling all the shots. Dexter said, that if Rodney was going to attend the games he should pay for it out of his own pocket!!
    Now Dexter is in power... and he's going to the games with OUR free tickets that cost taxpayers 3.5 million and the public purse will pay for him to go! Isn't it funny how Dexter says one thing and does another??
    This just shows us that Dexter is a liar and uses smoke and mirrors to push through his stupid ideas!!!!
    Come on Darrell!! Tell us the real reason why you have not kept your commitment to Cumberland!! Enough with your lies and out with it!!!!

  • JS
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Dexter said:

    *Building one new jail will have a savings of about $5 million in capital costs and a savings of about $1.7 million in annual operations, Dexter said. That and the fact it serves the correctional service more efficiently were the considerations more so than the geography.*

    Mr. Dexter, just because you say something doesn't mean it's true. We don't just blindly take you at your word. Nobody has shown the actual numbers. You can't just say stuff without backing it up. Don't insult our intelligence like this, it's a surefire way of never having a second or any subsequent NDP term in office (just ask Ontario).

    Put more simply: We're not going to simply believe you just because you say it. We need facts. How about showing us what the Burnside jail saved for some evidence.

    Besides, with that line of reasoning, why not just build one super jail for the whole province? Then we can shut down all the courts too and have just one. Heck, you could attach it to the new super jail and save even more. Screw Pictou. While we're at it, let's just build one facility for all provincial services and scrap everything else. There must be some savings to be had there.

  • Dennis
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    I've been wondering... seeing that they plan on moving the jail anyway, Why would corrections/justice in Amherst bother going all the way to Pictou with Prisoners in the first place? A 2 hour drive is a 2 hour drive. Just as well to send everyone to Halifax ain't it? At least then the prisoners would have access to all the other facilities that Burnside can offer.

    Bottom line is that a jail in Pictou is a complete waste of time and money for Cumberland. I think JS has a bit of foresight into what 'our' government will likely do with all services in the future if we let them.

    Gettin' kinda tired of being lied and being fed BS all the time. Eerytime someone asks for specifics, we never get it. There is no real plan on saving money, just a plan to screw this part of the province again and again.

  • Wondering
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    A decision like this, one would think that responsible government would do an economic impact assessment.
    If one hasn't been done... how can they claim these savings on capital expenses and annual operating costs???
    Something is not adding up!!
    This is really looking more and more like politics has taken over.
    Dexter, its nice to see you are turning out to be exactly what I thought of you!!
    I find it interesting the NDP were always looking to bash the conservative gov. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the NDP turn out to be no better!! They said what ever they had to, to get elected.

  • Puzzled
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    I've been following this story for some time now. I'm assuming the officers in Amherst are union members that belong to NSGEU. What I'm wondering is, how come NSGEU hasn't said a word about this? This announcement must negatively affect its members. How come NSGEU remains silent? Where is the protection for the officers jobs? Yeah, they will be offered jobs at the new location, but what about the officers that relocation is not an option?
    Could it be that Jessome is to busy having her picture taken with Dexter?
    This is poor and I mean poor representation for those members!

  • Gary
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    You mean to tell me that the Amherst jail costs $1.7 million in annual operations? Come on, that's rediculous.

  • welder
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    You fools voted for these , What did you expect? they will repay Halifax and other areas for their support over the years, otherwise it will be all for the Cabinet and nothing for the rest ! And do not think you can reason or threaten these clowns, cause if nothing else, they are 100% sure that they will never win an election again. So watch emm cut, destroy, and move things. Rembembering always that you elected them !!

  • Chillwill
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Puzzled. Sorry I missed your comment earlier. NSGEU members will not speak out of pure fear. However they are entitled to travel expenses, hotel lodging and relocation allowances for any move further than 32 kms. That means 40.5 cents per KM for each and everyone who has to travel. Start doing the math, this is not only for the gaurds it is for justice people who use their own cars also. Forgot to mention the meal allowances and overtime travel. This 1.5 million savings they keep talking is going to turn into huge amounts of deficit from two counties not to mention the lost monies that were already spent in Cumb. and Antigonish on site accusition, viability studies and planning & preperation. I have been in this game for 25 years and there is ABSOLUTELY no way that a financial plan can be generated that fast for this government to be saying it is cheaper. It is a pure lie.

  • Realistic
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    The jail. The Cat. Broken promise to end ER closures. I'm sure there are more.

    Dexters NDP are showing they are anything but a party with concerns for rural NS.

  • Robert
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I think Skabar should quit the NDP in protest. Operate as an independant. Some will say *but then we won't have representstion in the government!* to which I will say *who cares... what has that got us so far?*

  • Chillwill
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Blind you are absolutely right. However you have skipped one important fact. Springhill sits on the LARGEST amount of cheap green energy in the Province. One would expect that an NDP government would latch onto this with both hands & hold on until they have bloody fingers. The Geothermal savings alone for the province would override ANY arguement for Darrell and company to build elsewhere. This is pure politics of the very worst kind. I have never seen it worse in my last 60 years. 4 more years of absolute distruction. Rural NS may never get a chance to comeback. At least with smug Rodney we did have a chance. R.I.P. rural communities.

  • Blind
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    THIS COMMENT HAS BEEN EDITED BY THE MODERATOR Dexter you can twist things all you want. But the facts remain the same! You have broken an election promise!! br You have broken a signed aggreement!! br You have thrown Brian Skabar under the bus! The list goes on and on! br Dexter, you claim to have good ideas...well where are they?? How can you claim these numbers if you haven't even picked a new site?? So what you want, this is just politics!!!! Your a hypocrite!! Your are doing exactly what you cried foul about with other governments. br A good leader would look for ways to make this work for Cumberland!! br The conservatives plan stood to benefit two countys. Which in turn would create jobs for both and help improve the economics of two areas!! This is my mind is looking out for the best interest of the province!! br You claimed Rodneys government was out of touch with rural areas????????? You said yourself that rural areas have been dealing with depopulation and jobs loses for far to long!! You and your MLA's were going to change that!! Well, what the heck does this do to Springhill?? br Here's an opportunity for Springhill to turn the corner, and for the province to perhaps share many services with the federal government. One would think that partnering up with the federal government would be an extremly good thing. Especially since corrections is a money pit!! But Dexter, your just going to throw that all away, just to pad Landry's seat!! br This is NOT good government!! I've seen the plan that Springhill has... theres no way any other county can ever come close to it!! br The conservatives had many faults, but throwing an opportunity like this away was not one of them. They were going to capitalize on it!! br Your just taking the easy way instead of making things work!! br Have fun at the Olympics...

  • Whatever
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    The unions won't speak out against Dexter, they were all running around with Dexter pins on at election time. Dexter will budge when he's thrown out at the end of this term

  • Joe
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    All the commentators are here are crazy!! The NDP made a smart decision.

  • Johnny Playfair
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    People of Cumberland may(will!!!) not vote NDP again but us not voting for them does not mean they will not be voted in for another term.Darrell has atleast another 7 years of job security.JMHO :(

  • Chillwill
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Dennis. You are the man. You are absolutely right about the 2 hour vs. 2 hour. Do you think the new NDP might take this into consideration??? I am very doubtful because 4years is 4 years!!!!!