As has been written elsewhere in this journal, the federal government has commissioned a new prison for migrants of all ages, and construction is beginning in spring of 2019. The catch: they don't want this new building to seem like a prison. They've requested it have warm wood panelling to give it a homey feel, window furnishings to hide the iron bars, and fences camouflaged by shrubbery, but high enough to block passersby from seeing the children in the courtyard. Nonetheless, if they succeed, it will sit on Correctional Services Canada-owned land on Montée Saint-François, a road in Laval, QC that is already home to the current migrant prison, 2 federal prisons, and a provincial prison. The prison will, despite this superficial appearance, do what all prisons exist to do: separate families and communities, confine people in boxes and deprive them of joy and freedom. This prison will have the capacity to imprison and immiserate up to 158 people, including children, most of whom will be detained indefinitely and then deported.
It's the federal government who has the money to spend to make this project happen, but they can't do it without the active cooperation of multiple companies. These companies will carry out various sections of the work necessary to bring this building into existence. We don't think that the government, whose existence is fundamentally reliant on its ability to enforce its illegitimate borders, will be convinced to stop this project. If the Canadian government does respond to the demands of migrants and anti-racists, it will only change the packaging of its border enforcement projects and not the fundamentals of the projects themselves. We can not expect the government to cancel this project ― our hope of blocking the construction of this prison lies in making it impossible for the companies ― architects, engineers, general contractors, and subcontractors ― to do their work, or in making it clear that they will lose more money trying to do their work than they will gain by completing the contracts.
So who are these companies, what do they do, and where are they located?
This St-Henri based architecture firm has an active and lucrative contract for the architecture of the prison, and will be in charge of landscape architecture as well. Though Lemay presents itself as a socially and environmentally conscious firm, its choice to design the prison proves, unsurprisingly, that this is just a ploy to make more money.
The company has already been the target of a few different actions against the prison: in spring of 2018 crickets were released into the building housing its headquarters, a neighbourhood demonstration visited its offices in February 2019, and in March 2019 two condo developments designed by Lemay were extensively vandalized.
In addition to their Montreal headquarters, Lemay has offices in Quebec City, Calgary, Edmonton, and New York.
Groupe A, an architecture firm based in Quebec City, shares the contract with Lemay for the design of the prison. This company has already been involved in the building of other prisons in the past.
This excavation company recieved a contract to conduct the excavation and decontamination of the prison site, work that was completed in December 2018.
In January 2019, the headquarters of Loiselle, located in Saint-Timothée, were covered with paint − requiring an expensive removal process according to a local newspaper report.
This huge Quebec-based company was tasked by the government to conduct a site evaluation in the lead up to the soil remediation work done by Loiselle. Englobe's headquarters are in Quebec City, but it also boasts many other locations around Quebec, and even a few in France.
A massive engineering consulting company, Stantec will be involved in overseeing many parts of the prison construction including providing consultation related to electrical, mechanical, structural and civil engineering, fire alarms, and telecommunications.
Stantec has 400 offices, located all over the world, and including multiple locations in Montreal.
KJA Consultants Inc
This elevator systems company will be overseeing the work on conveyor systems for the prison.
They have many offices, including in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal.
Bouthillette Parizeau (BPA)
BPA, a large engineering consulting firm, will be in charge of food services and commissioning for the prison.
BPA has offices in Montreal, Longueuil, Quebec City, Gatineau, Ottawa, and Laval.
For more information on these companies, or to learn about other companies involved and the state of the project, visit: