The B.C. government is moving ahead with plans to build a new jail to replace the Nanaimo Correctional Centre. 

The province says the new jail will be built next to the existing NCC site and feature a "campus-style" configuration.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General says the $157-million plan will create 1,000 jobs and enhance community safety.

"[The] NCC and the therapeutic community within it have an impressive history of changing lives for the better, and that's a testament to the hard work of both staff and people in our custody," said Mike Farnworth, B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

"We envision a new centre that will better support staff and enhance NCC's unique, effective programs."

The province has posted a request for qualifications looking for developers that can design and build the new facility next to the existing jail. 

"It's estimated that replacing NCC will bring major regional economic benefits, including approximately 650 direct and 275 indirect jobs, plus nearly 100 spinoff jobs associated with spending by those workers," said Jinny Sims, B.C.'s Minister of Citizens' Services.

The jail is expected to maintain the 190-room capacity of the existing jail, plus a new 12-room unit for short-term custody for women.

The new jail design will take advantage of the natural surroundings of Brannen Lake and provide modernized spaces for education and rehabilitative programming, plus specialized areas for food services, health care and mental health care.

"Greenlighting NCC's replacement is great news for construction jobs here in Nanaimo and a compliment to the life-changing programs NCC's team delivers," said Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson.

BC Corrections expects the new jail will be operational by spring 2023.

"While completion of this project is a few years away, I want everyone involved with the existing centre to know that it will be business as usual during the construction, with every effort made to mitigate disruptions to work routines and the daily lives of the individuals NCC supports," Farnworth said.

The current NCC building was originally constructed as a reform school in 1953.