April 24th, 2024

‘Serious errors’ by B.C. prison officials who knew about a 4-year water leak: report

By The Canadian Press on March 20, 2024.

The Matsqui Institution, a medium-security federal men's prison, is seen in Abbotsford, B.C., on October 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

OTTAWA – The federal Public Sector Integrity Commissioner says the Correctional Service of Canada committed “gross mismanagement” when it took nearly four years to fix pipes at a B.C. prison that were leaking chemically treated water into the ground.

Harriet Solloway says millions of litres of water from the building’s heating system seeped into the ground surrounding the Matsqui Institution in Abbotsford, B.C., which is on top of three aquifers, including one that flows into a salmon-bearing stream.

Solloway concluded in her report issued this week that management did not take adequate and timely action, demonstrating serious errors impacting safety and potentially harming the environment.

She says many people in management positions were aware of the leak but failed to take sufficient action, instead tending not to believe engineers who first raised concerns in 2017.

Solloway made four recommendations in her report, including that the department establish an “action plan” for critical infrastructure risks and failures.

In a response included with the report, the Correctional Service of Canada says it disagrees that it committed wrongdoing, noting that an independent report in 2022 found there was no contamination and that the risks were “negligible.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2024.

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