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'It’s going to help the town': Grand Lake residents react to jail announcement

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You might think residents of a small rural community might be a bit wary of a jail being built in their backyard, but you would be wrong.

On Monday, the New Brunswick Government announced the municipality of Grand Lake was chosen as the site for a new provincial correctional facility.

Five communities submitted formal applications, but an industrial park in Minto was chosen.

The site in Minto scored the highest among the applicants based on the criteria provided.

The province owns a parcel of land at the end of Industrial Park Road where the new facility will be built.

The estimated cost of the project is $42 million.

Hayward McKenelley owns property nearby, and was very happy to hear the news.

"It's going to help Minto out. It's going to help the town and employ a lot of people," said McKenelley.

Heather Morrison lives in the community of Chipman, about 20 minutes away from where the jail will be built.

“It’ll bring in lots of work and lots of spin-offs from it,” said Morrison. “I think it will bring in more of a police presence which we desperately need.”

Edith McInnis, also of Chipman, said it’s a much needed project for the area.

“We need something to bring in people, work. We've lost a lot over the years with the coal power plant,” said McInnis. “All we really have is the mill.”

Grand Lake Mayor, Kevin Nicklin, said it’s a great opportunity.

“The spin-off work from it, the gas stations, the grocery stores, hardware stores, all of the services. We’re hoping that spins off for the local community,” said Nicklin.

Nicklin, McInnins and Morrison couldn’t think of any negatives at all.

“In speaking with the province when we were going through this they mitigated most of those risks away to a point that we did not feel they were necessarily issues,” said Nicklin.

The new jail will be built in Public Safety Minister Kris Austin's riding.

He explained why Minto was chosen.

“As a department we put forward specs in what we were looking for in a correctional facility and basically we turned that over to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure,” said Austin.

“They then go through and they do on-site visits to different sites, different municipalities who put forward proposals and they do their own analysis of those sites and then they make recommendations back to our department on which site would be best suited and Grand Lake came out on top.”

Austin said there was a lot of interest in other communities in the Fredericton region that wanted the jail in their community.

“I think this facility will help breathe new life into an area like Minto which is what we wanted. When the decision was made to pull it out of Fredericton. We said what community, what smaller community would get the smaller benefit out of this, you know, that's within a reasonable distance to the courthouse in Fredericton and Minto certainly came out on top of that,” said Austin.

The provincial correctional facility will hold around 120 to 140 inmates.

Austin said the hope is the land can be developed this fall, but as far as the actual construction project goes, that likely won't start until the spring of 2024.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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