Before and after: Vancouver jail turned into apartments

Photo gallery of former Remand Centre’s transformation

“If these walls could talk.”

That was what Graham Fast of Mierau Contractors Ltd. told the Courier in February 2014 during a tour of what used to be Vancouver’s biggest jail and home to some of the region’s most notorious criminals, including the Air India bombing suspects.

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Fast is the site superintendent of an innovative $19-million project that turned the former pre-trial centre at Powell and Gore streets into 96 units of affordable housing. And on Wednesday, Housing Minister Rich Coleman and members of the Bloom Group, which will manage the building, were on site to show off the transformation.

Last year, the floors of the building were littered with old pipes, pink insulation, toilets, stacks of steel cell doors and steel cell beds, rubble from demolished walls, bags of asbestos material, an industrial-sized washer and dryer and piles of metal and miscellaneous debris.

That is all gone and replaced by apartments, a community garden, bike storage, a multi-purpose room and self-contained apartments that will be home to low-income adults and at-risk aboriginal youth, who belong to the BladeRunners program.

Rents will range from $375 to $850 and the apartments are between 320 and 560 sq. feet.

Tenants begin moving in this month.

The pre-trial centre opened in the early 1980s and was closed in 2002 by the government because of a declining inmate population, although the number of inmates has since increased and a new centre opened last year in Surrey.

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