News release

Almost Empty Youth Centre to Close

The province will work closely with local governments and business organizations in southwestern Nova Scotia to promote economic development, as it prepares for closure of the Shelburne Youth Centre on April 1.

The announcement was made today, Feb. 10, by Justice Minister Michael Baker.

There are only two youths living on the modern campus that once housed 120 and that now has a normal capacity of 24. The facility costs about $2.8 million a year to operate.

"With extra space available at our Nova Scotia Youth Centre in Waterville," said Mr. Baker, "it's the appropriate time to close Shelburne and transfer the remaining young people, to make sure they receive excellent programs in a larger group environment. Today's announcement is all about doing the right thing for our youth, working with our staff to help them explore options, and working together on future economic development opportunities."

As a result of the decline in the number of young people in custody, Shelburne was downsized to 24 beds in 2001. Since the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act took effect in 2003, the number of residents has continued to drop. Under the Act, youths under the age of 18 who commit violent offences can be placed in custody. Non-violent offenders receive intensive supervision or other community-based sentences. Historically, about 75 per cent of the young people living on-site have come from the metro Halifax region, with only two per cent from the South Shore.

"When it comes to working hands-on with South Shore youth, our intensive supervision programs provide an even greater benefit than having a facility like Shelburne," said Mr. Baker. "Our probation officers in Bridgewater and Yarmouth give direct support to area schools by working with as many as 20 youths. And that support will continue.

"This announcement removes any uncertainty among staff about the future of Shelburne," added Mr. Baker. "I know it's been a difficult time for them. Now, it's time to roll up our sleeves and do our best to support the region's economic strategy."

Mr. Baker said the province will listen closely to suggestions and recommendations from the region. "We're certainly open to ideas," he added. "We understand the value of attracting long- term jobs to the region."

The Shelburne Youth Centre is a former naval base that was converted to a juvenile training school following the Second World War. The Department of Justice assumed responsibility for the facility in 1994.

Discussions will take place shortly with staff and the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees' Union to identify options for staff, including continuing employment within Correctional Services.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

The province says it will do all it can to promote economic development in the Shelburne area, as it plans the closure of the Shelburne Youth Centre.

There are only two youths on the campus, which costs 2- point-8 million dollars a year to operate.

Justice Minister Michael Baker says it makes sense to close the campus by April first.

There's plenty of space available at the Waterville Youth Centre in the Annapolis Valley.

The province will work with staff and their union to review all reasonable options, which could include other jobs within Correctional Services.

The province will also consult with regional economic development organizations and local governments in the Shelburne area.

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Contact:

Richard Perry
Department of Justice 902-424-6811 E-mail: