Fredericton council agrees to sell city land to province for construction of new jail

The piece of land identified is near the Vanier Industrial Park and is listed under property account number 00780799. (Google Earth - image credit)
The piece of land identified is near the Vanier Industrial Park and is listed under property account number 00780799. (Google Earth - image credit)

The City of Fredericton has confirmed earlier hints of where the province plans to build a new jail.

Councillors voted 6-4 on Monday to sell the provincial government about 25 acres of land in the Vanier Industrial Park for $1,075,000 in order to build a correctional centre.

The site is made up of two adjoining parcels of land at the southern ends of Blizzard and Dorcas streets.

The land would be used for the construction of the $32-million jail designed based on the Dalhousie Regional Correction Centre, according to a city staff report.

The facility would contain five units, each containing 20 beds, along with nine segregation and admission cells.

According to the conditions of the deal, the transaction would be cancelled if a rezoning application to permit its construction were rejected by the planning advisory committee, or by council.

If the deal closes, the city would undertake the servicing and road work needed to prepare the land for development by the province.

The transaction is projected to close in early 2023, subject to the approval of zoning amendments, according to the staff report.

Rezoning application pending

A month ago, a council meeting agenda included a line about a proposed public hearing date for objections and support for an application to rezone a plot of land near the Vanier Industrial Park to allow the construction of a "correctional facility."

The city said that line was included "in error," and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure at the time said the site selection process for the proposed jail was ongoing.

In an email to CBC News Tuesday, department spokesperson Alycia Bartlett said while Fredericton city council approved the sale, a rezoning application is pending with the city's planning advisory committee.

"It would be premature to outline the project timeline at this juncture, given the PAC process is pending," she said.

Councillor questions need for jail

Councillors Cassandra LeBlanc (Ward 10), Kevin Darrah (Ward 7), Margo Sheppard (Ward 1), and Ruth Breen (Ward 9) voted against the sale of the property.

Before the vote, Sheppard said she understands the property still has to go through a planning process before a rezoning can happen.

Facebook/Margo Sheppard
Facebook/Margo Sheppard

However, she said it's important for the public to have a say when the city is pursuing deals to sell land for "uses that may or may not be compatible with the city."

"I feel that this is not a terribly good use to have in our city, and until I can be persuaded that a correctional facility actually does correct someone, or actually rehabilitates them so that they can become contributing members of society, I don't think I will be supporting this," Sheppard said.

Speaking after Sheppard, Ward 3 Coun. Bruce Grandy, who voted in favour of the motion, said it's important to remember there will be opportunities for the public to voice any concerns over the application.

Grandy said that will happen at the planning advisory stage, and again at second reading by council to rezone the property.

"People need to know that there is a process where citizens will be able to give their voice to what's coming from the sale of this property," Grandy said.