EDMONTON – Three months after its closure, the future of Edmonton’s infamous old Remand Centre remains uncertain. Alberta Infrastructure is currently conducting a study to determine what to do with it, but in the meantime, the building is sitting empty.
It’s a stark difference from just three months ago, when the facility housed as many as 800 inmates at a time – that was more than double what it was originally built for. Despite the fact that it became too small for its growing inmate population, the facility’s operations supervisor Doug Campbell believes that the building was well-built, well-kept and is still structurally sound.
“I’m probably one of the few people who’s really sad about this because I like this place,” he said. Campbell started working at the old Remand Centre before it even opened its doors 33 years ago.
“I remember walking in the front doors as a 29 year-old man, and now I walk out as an old man. It’s hard to grasp how the time’s gone by, and now it’s sitting here closed. It’s a strange feeling.”
Over the years, the facility has undergone a lot of improvements, some of which had to be made because of its crafty occupants.
For example, something as simple as light switches even had to be reinforced.
As Campbell explained, that’s because when the facility became non-smoking, inmates would find creative ways to light the cigarettes they made.
“They would spark off the light switch, but with a paper-clip,” he recalled.
“We constantly have to think out of the box. We have to come up and build something that maybe has never been built before to overcome these issues.”
The new Edmonton Remand Centre is a product of some of the lessons that were learned along the way. That’s where Campbell works now. On Thursday, he gave Global News a tour of his old workplace – one which has left him with many stories.
“It’s been very interesting. A lot of things have happened over the years. It’s made for an interesting life.”
You can see extended footage in the video below:
With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News