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NNSL Photo/graphic

Rankin Inlet Mayor Lorne Kusugak, back, watches a presentation with Repulse Bay Mayor Donat Milortok, left, and Baker Lake Mayor David Aksawnee at the Kivalliq mayors' meetings in Rankin this past week. The meetings were overshadowed somewhat by the Nunavut government's announcement that Rankin will be home to a new Nunavut correctional facility. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

Unlocking the way

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Nov 29/06) - Rankin Inlet will be home to a new $37 million Nunavut correctional facility.

The announcement was made this past week by the Nunavut government, at the same time Kivalliq mayors were meeting in Rankin Inlet.

A total of $1.5 million is budgeted for site location and ground preparation in Rankin this coming year.

The new jail is scheduled to open in 2011.

The Baffin Regional Correctional Centre is at peak capacity and Nunavut pays the NWT and Ontario to house inmates it has no room for.

Mayor Lorne Kusugak said Rankin has lobbied hard for the jail during the past three years.

He said although he was confident in Rankin's chances from the outset, he began to realize his community was atop the list of possible sites about a year ago.

"The new correctional facility will provide many benefits to our community," said Kusugak.

"Money will be spent on preparation and construction of the facility, and there will be a land lease involved.

"There are also the employment possibilities in both the short-term construction and long-term operation and maintenance of the facility, and those who will work there."

Kusugak said he hasn't received anything specific from the Nunavut government on the actual size of the completed facility.

He said discussions to identify the area where the jail will be located will, probably, begin early in the new year.

"We're ready to start whenever the government is.

"I'm sure the negotiations and site selection will all go smoothly."

Kusugak said he's not concerned about negative fallout from other Kivalliq communities as Rankin continues to prosper. He said he's always supported the initiatives of other Kivalliq hamlets and will continue to do that.

"A strong Kivalliq is in the best interest of everyone.

"I always encourage other hamlets to pursue projects that will make their community stronger, but if you want things done in your community you have to be active and lobby all levels of government.

"You need to have discussions with the people who make things happen and you can't be scared to pound on doors to get their attention.

"If you don't do that, you'll sit and watch as things happen in other communities."

Kusugak said there isn't much concern in Rankin about housing inmates.

He said the benefits of the new facility far outweigh any perceived negatives.

"We may have to take steps to ensure that once inmates come out of incarceration, they go back to their own community.

"But the people of Rankin Inlet have never said don't go after this facility.

"And, I'm certain we'll be able to address any issues that arise."