Quebec commits funding to new police, court facilities in Nunavik
“Puvirnituq is a big part of this plan”
KUUJJUAQ—The Kativik Regional Government and Quebec’s Ministry of Public Security have reached a tentative funding agreement to build new police stations in each of Nunavik’s 14 communities.
The KRG announced the informal agreement on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at a regional council meeting in Kuujjuaq.
The plan is to tackle the project in phases, said the KRG’s assistant director general Frédéric Gagné, starting in the communities with the greatest need.
The KRG submitted a five-year plan and a $61.7 million funding request to the Public Security department last April.
Puvirnituq is slated to receive its new police station first, along with a new adjacent court facility to hold detainees when the circuit court visits the Hudson coast community.
The need to update the region’s police facilities had already been flagged, but a 2016 report by the Quebec ombudman’s office made it a more pressing priority when it highlighted overcrowding and substandard detention conditions in Nunavik’s police holding cells.
The problem was most apparent in Puvirnituq’s police station, which must share its holding cells with court detainees during the weeks when the travelling court is in town.
The report found cells designed to hold one or two detainees might at times hold seven, often “incompatible” inmates, some of whom might be suicidal and others, intoxicated.
In mid-November, for example, the court flew in 13 detainees from the Amos detention centre to Puvirnituq for court appearances while local police held 12 local detainees of their own, forcing 25 inmates to share six cells.
“Puvirnituq is a big part of this plan,” Gagné said, referring to the needs identified in that community.
He said the new $17-million police station will be built closer to Puvirnituq’s courthouse. Although an official design has yet to be drafted or approved, the goal is to build the court’s holding cell area as a separate section within the new police station.
The KRG has requested the new police station be fitted with 13 cells, plus another 15 holding cells in an adjacent court services facility.
With the contribution from Quebec sitting at about $20 million for the project’s first phase, the KRG hopes to move forward with construction of police stations in two other communities at the same time—Salluit and Inukjuak, which also host their own court proceedings.
Gagné hopes to see Puvirnituq’s new police station built by 2019, and all the region’s police stations constructed by 2022.