Ministry to scout proposed site for youth jail

Ministry of Public Safety and Security officials will be in the area next week in another step to determine whether Couchiching First Nation will land a youth jail down the road.
“It’s very encouraging they’re coming to look at the site that’s been chosen for the facility,” Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said Friday morning.
Getting the proposed youth facility built locally has been a co-operative effort of Couchiching First Nation, the town, and Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services, he noted.
“They’re also going to be looking at the infrastructure of the area,” the mayor added. “For example, the proximity of the courthouse to the facility, the fact we have access to 12 lawyers in the area, the fact the district’s OPP are co-ordinated out of the detachment here.”
The proposed 75- to 100-bed medium-security facility would be built along Highway 11 just east of the Couchiching Bingo Palace.
The bid received ringing endorsements from at least six other area First Nations communities, the OPP, the Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat, the Rainy River Future Development Corp., and the Seven Generations Education Institute, among others, last September when a proposal was submitted to the ministry.
Back in August, Mayor Witherspoon discussed the matter with Public Safety and Security minister Bob Runciman at the annual meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
The mayor said he felt Runciman understood the partnership between the town and Couchiching, and the benefits such a facility would bring.
In related news, with the Fort Frances Jail still slated to close in May, 2004, Mayor Witherspoon said there’s been no word as to whether the town will get a remand facility.
In January, consultants Sandy Baroudi and Gerry Pisarzowski of the Toronto-based Advisory Services//GPA suggested the town pursue expanding the current jail into a facility that could house up to 22 male inmates and four female ones, and employ 27 staff.
The remand centre would be used to detain prisoners yet to be sentenced as well as those facing sentences up to 120 days.