South Etobicoke residents can breathe a sigh of relief - neither Paul Bernardo, nor Russell Williams, nor any other dangerous offenders currently housed in the now-slated-for-closure Kingston Penitentiary will be moving to the neighbourhood.
When news leaked the morning of April 19 that the federal government planned to close the doors of notorious maximum-security prison in Kingston, Ont, the Twittersphere was set alight with speculation as to where its 346 current inmates would be transferred.
Locally, that speculation turned to the new Toronto South Detention Centre (aka the Etobicoke 'superjail), a 1,650-bed, provincial prison scheduled to open on the site of the old Mimico Correctional Centre in September.
But that won't be the case, said Etobicoke-Lakeshore MP Bernard Trottier, dismissing the speculation as rumour.
"They will definitely not be coming to Etobicoke...First of all, Kingston Penitentiary is a maximum-security, federal facility, and the Toronto South Detention Centre, when it opens, is really just a remand facility, so it's not the same thing at all," he said of the Don Jail-replacement facility in an interview with The Guardian Thursday afternoon.
"The vast majority of folks at the Toronto South Detention Centre are going to be people on remand, which means that they're just awaiting trial."
As a provincial institution, Trottier added the Toronto South Detention Centre would only admit inmates with sentences of "two years less a day, at the very most. As an Ontario facility, that's the definition of what Ontario takes on," he said.
In contrast, Kingston Penitentiary's inmate population is made up of 44 per cent lifers, while only 14 per cent of inmates have sentences of less than 40 months, according to the Correctional Service Canada website.
On Thursday afternoon, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews' announced the Kingston Penitentiary closure, as well as those of the Ontario Regional Treatment Centre - a psychiatric institution situated within Kingston Penitentiary - and Leclerc Institution in Laval, Quebec, within the next two years would mean a yearly savings of $120 million to the federal government.
"Our tough new laws to tackle crime are starting to end the revolving door of justice by keeping dangerous criminals behind bars longer," Toews said in a statement. "More importantly, our efforts have not resulted in a significant increase in the number of federal prisoners, which is why we are announcing the closure of two federal prisons."
In a news release, the Correctional Service of Canada said it will ensure offenders at those sites "are appropriately placed at other institutions."
"Public safety is the number one consideration in all placement and transfer decisions," the release continued.
Trottier said what that likely means is the inmates from both Kingston Penitentiary and Leclerc Institution will be "absorbed into other facilities around the country."
"There are other federal facilities around the country and there's capacity to absorb them," he said. "Contrary to what some people are saying, it's not like all our prisons are bursting at the seams."
There are no plans to build any new federal facilities to accommodate for the displaced inmates from the closed institutions, said Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais.
"Since 2006, our government has not built a single new prison and we have no intention of building a single new prison," Dagenais, who was at the closure announcement alongside Toews, said in a statement. "Our efforts to make our communities safer are geared towards keeping dangerous criminals off our streets and behind bars."