Monday, April 22, 2013

Visit "Tough Vic's" newest Big House of Horrors and tax haven ..... you won't want to leave!

"Hi sweetheart, you wouldn't believe this new federal 'punishment centre' it's truly awesome! No, no don't hide any more pot in your bra and panties on your next visit. What I can get in here is wicked wheelchair quality better than on the outside. For dinner tonight we're having porterhouse steak and a nice beaujolais. Guess I won't have to pay taxes on my offshore accounts eh?"
South Estobicoke jail like no other
By Tom Godfrey
Saturday, June 9, 2012

TORONTO - It’s big, it’s new and it’s unashamedly brassy, but South Etobicoke residents know that looks can be deceiving.

They have mixed feelings about a new ‘superjail’ in their midst even though it resembles a fancy five-star hotel from the outside.

Dozens of workers are busy putting the finishing touches to the $594-million Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC), on Horner Avenue that will begin accepting the first of 1,650 inmates within months. Many of the cons are being transferred from Toronto’s Don Jail now being decommissioned.

There is no imposing fence surrounding this maximum security Ontario prison. Instead visitors are greeted by plants, a well-cut lawn and circular front entrance that is graced by flagpoles.

The facility clearly resembles a college campus and is the first to use prefabricated cells. There are three seven-storey towers where inmates are housed and the building is well lit by daylight from large windows and features the latest in green-technology. Inmates, who are being held for court or serving two years less a day, have access to large flat-screen TVs, billiard tables, a well-equipped gym, brand new cafeteria, laundry, infirmary and other amenities. There’s also a spotless library with computers hooked up to the Internet, some workers said.

It took 500 workers about three years to build the GTA’s newest jail. More than $120 million in salaries and 2,900 person years of employment was generated by the project. The facility will house inmates with special needs and the Toronto Intermittent Centre for about 320 inmates serving weekend sentences.

Construction of the 67,000-square-metre centre has split the community with some residents welcoming the potential revenue it may bring and those who claim it will house violent offenders, who are being pampered and are “unwelcomed” in the area.

Ward 6 councillor Mark Grimes says the TSDC will employ hundreds of officers and administrative staff, many who may live or shop in the community.

“This will be great for businesses in the community,’ Grimes says. “These workers have good-paying jobs and will spend money in the community.”

He says the site has been used as a detention centre since 1887 and was home of the former Mimico Correctional Centre.

Grimes is hoping the facility will help improve the area as a nearby Toronto Police Training College and MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence.

Local businessman Derek Houghton is hoping to reap some of the benefits.

“I think the centre will bring jobs to the community,” says Houghton, the owner of The Gallery Studio, on Lake Shore Boulevard. West. “I think there will be some economic spinoffs for us.”

He doesn’t think the jail will bring more crime by those released to half-way homes or on probation.

But long-time resident and former professional wrestler Everett Sheppard doesn’t share a rosy outlook.

“This jail will not do anything for our community,” stresses Sheppard, who is vice-chair of the Lake Shore Village Business Improvement Area. ”It may bring a little business for us but it shouldn’t be located right in the middle of a residential community.”

Sheppard believes the jail will attract criminals and other undesirables and maintains small businesses aren’t expecting much of a financial boost from those working at the jail.

Area activist John Scheffer also doesn’t expect much trade to trickle down to businesses either.

“I don’t think this facility will have much of an impact to the area,” Scheffer says. “I don’t think there will be much economic spin off for us because we are some distance away.”

He predicts the prison will cause more traffic jams and congested roads from those visiting inmates or vehicles transporting prisoners to court.

Another resident, who gave his name as Zee, said he’s concerned for the safety of his wife and children.

“I am worried for my family,” Zee says. “I know these people are in jail but what if they escape and do harm to other people.”

A long-time female resident, who didn’t want her name used, said she’s worried that the jail is less than five-minutes drive by car from her home.

“This is way too close for my comfort,” she says. “I have daughters and I feel scared for them with a jail right at our doorstep.”

Brent Ross, of the Ministry of Correctional Services, said his officials are still determining staffing needs for the centre. He said workers from other facilities will be given an opportunity to work there and personnel will not have to be hired.

Ross defended the “hotel-like” design claiming it is “comparable to the province’s other modern facilities.”

“It’s designed in a way that allows for efficient and effective prisoner oversight,” he says. “It is also designed to fit into the community and not overwhelm it.”

Ross says the flat-screen TVs were required to reach a large amount of inmates.

“The facility will be equipped with televisions that will be large enough to accommodate a large audience,” he says. “These televisions will serve numerous inmates at once and will be viewed from a significant distance.”

He says billiards and other games are a privilege for prisoners.


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