Bird launches construction on $1.2 billion Thunder Bay Corrections complex

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

A new $1.2 billion correctional complex in Thunder Bay will relieve capacity pressures and create additional space.Officials from the government and project contractor Bird Construction held a ground-breaking ceremony at the site last week.

“Bird is pleased to have safely delivered the rapid build expansions at Kenora Jail and Thunder Bay Correctional Centre,” said Teri McKibbon, president and CEO of Bird Construction Inc. “The successful completion was made possible through the strong collaboration and engagement with stakeholders, including Indigenous communities, trade partners, and our clients.

“The projects leveraged Bird’s integrated conventional site construction and innovative modular construction solutions with Stack Modular and demonstrated the value and benefits of accelerated builds for delivery of important infrastructure to communities.”

Expansion projects in Thunder Bay and Kenora were designed and built by Bird Construction Inc. and delivered using Infrastructure Ontario’s rapid delivery approach, which aims to deliver projects more efficiently using rapid procurement processes and construction methods.

“Replacing out-of-date infrastructure that no longer meets current needs is an investment in corrections modernization and public safety,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. “This new facility will provide staff with the tools, technology and healthy work environment needed to do their jobs safely and effectively while providing a high standard of care and supervision for those in custody.”

The 345-bed, multi-purpose adult correctional site was designed with input from frontline staff, local municipal partners, stakeholders and Indigenous leaders. Construction is expected to be completed in fall 2026.

The complex will also feature an innovative design that includes increased levels of natural light and views of nature, along with fixtures and furnishings that will create a healthy environment for both staff and those in custody. There will also be dedicated Indigenous cultural spaces, both indoors and outdoors, such as a smudging space, sweat lodge and teaching lodge. Some of the outdoor features will include a communal gathering space, greenhouse, and secure yard.

This project is one of a series of corrections infrastructure builds in the North.

“This is welcome news for Northwestern Ontario,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development. “Correctional facilities play an important role in keeping communities across the North safe. We will continue to develop northern communities with good-paying jobs and key infrastructure, as our government understands the unique challenges of the Northwest.”

Last month, expansion projects were completed at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre and Kenora Jail to help address overcrowding while the Thunder Bay complex is under construction.

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