Laval City-Watch

Ottawa, Laval poised to make deal on future of Old St. Vincent Penitentiary

As part of his annual summer tour, the Quebec Lieutenant and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, was in Laval last week to officially begin his Quebec tour.

He took the opportunity to visit the communities of his federal colleagues in order to take the pulse of the people on the ground and to meet with the mayor of Laval to discuss various issues that touch the people of Laval, such as the Vieux pénitencier de Saint-Vincent de Paul.

Accompanied by Annie Koutrakis, Member of Parliament for Vimy, Rodriguez began the day at the Centre Scama where he met with employees, volunteers as well as Diane Hachey, President of the Board of Directors of the home care organization that has been working for 40 years with Laval seniors.

Afterwards, it was during his participation in a round table discussion with Fayçal El Khoury, MP for Laval-les-Îles and Annie Koutrakis, MP for Vimy, that he had the opportunity to exchange with representatives of the cultural communities of the region.

Finally, fulfilling his commitment, Rodriguez visited the Vieux pénitencier Saint-Vincent-de-Paul along with the mayor of Laval, Stéphane Boyer, and the Member of Parliament for Alfred-Pellan, Angelo Iacono.

The three elected officials discussed how the federal government can be an ally in the realization of the project and the recognition of its importance for the Laval community.

“As in our previous meeting, Minister Pablo Rodriguez was attentive to the priorities of Laval residents,” said Mayor Boyer. “We were able to discuss many issues, including the revitalization of the Vieux Pénitencier de Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.

“For the past few months, we have felt a real desire to give a second life to this historic infrastructure, which our administration strongly wishes,” Boyer added. “We feel a great openness on the part of the federal government with regard to issues that are important to Laval citizens.”

“It’s good to be back on the ground for my Quebec summer tour,” said Rodriguez. “It’s important to take the pulse of the people in our communities. While we are learning to live with the pandemic, people are facing unprecedented global challenges such as inflation and the cost of living.”

“It was a pleasure to spend the day with Minister Pablo Rodriguez and my fellow MPs from Laval, Fayçal El-Khoury and Angelo Iacono,” said Koutrakis.

“The Minister met with several community groups and organizations and received direct feedback from each of them on the issues that matter most to their members and stakeholders. This is a clear demonstration of our government’s willingness to hear and act on the feedback we receive from our citizens.”

“It’s great to be with some of our many Laval communities,” said El Khoury. “Laval is special in that it is a bastion of living together across the country. My colleagues and I try every day to build on the sense of solidarity, openness and sharing that is part of our region.”

“The future of the Vieux Pénitencier represents an interest for the east of Laval as much in terms of culture as in terms of history and identity,” said Iacono. “Moreover, this heritage gem has the potential to generate wealth for the community and any disposal or development should include a community and social component as well as a phase that stimulates the local economy and generates jobs.”

Federal Correctional Service preparing to dispose of ‘Old Pen’ in Saint Vincent

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) said in a recent statement that it is entering the next phase in the disposal of one of its properties – the former Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Penitentiary in Laval.

CSC is currently working on the disposal process of this federal property in order to be ready for sale to Canada Lands Company (CLC) by the year 2024.

CSC said it will continue to work on several due diligence steps as part of the disposal process, including land surveys and environmental, archeological and heritage assessments, which will be completed by the end of 2023.

CSC said it has been working, and will continue to work, closely with experts to ensure that appropriate heritage considerations and obligations are transferred to the new owner, and that it will be consulting with other levels of government and stakeholders, including Indigenous groups to seek public interest in the property.

Formerly the site of a Sisters of Providence, Sacred Heart Convent, in 1861, the Government of Canada East purchased the site to establish a reform school. In 1872, the federal government purchased the site from the Province of Quebec and renovated it for use as a federal penitentiary.

The first offenders, officers and their families were transferred to Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Penitentiary by steamship from Kingston Penitentiary on May 19, 1873. Saint-Vincent-de-Paul-Penitentiary ceased operating as a federal correctional facility and was declared a surplus asset in 1989. The property was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990.

Saint Vincent councillor Galati says he wants ‘Vieux Pen’ file fast-tracked

Laval city councillor for St. Vincent de Paul Paolo Galati was upbeat upon receiving word that the Correctional Service of Canada seems intent on finally making a move to divest itself of the derelict former St. Vincent de Paul penitentiary complex.

“I am happy to learn that they are moving this dossier forward, even though another year-and-a-half of waiting is long,” the Action Laval opposition councillor said in a statement, noting that a transaction completion isn’t expected until at least 2024.

“It’s not as though this dossier just came up on their radar,” he added. “Since 1989, this dossier has been going in circles. I will continue to fight so that this dossier moves ahead quickly.”

Galati pointed out that the City of Laval is depending on the federal government to finally get some action in the matter. As well, he said a number of projects, involving transport, the extension of Saint-Martin Blvd. eastward to montée Saint-François and new social housing can only be brought to completion with the full cooperation of the federal government.