RDOS in prison pursuit

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is supporting investigation of a regional proposal to go forward exploring the possibility of building a prison.

Chairperson Dan Ashton asked for backing on the motion and was given unanimous approval at the RDOS regular board meeting on Thursday.

“What I am asking the board is for their endorsement that this should be looked at, not asked for a rubber stamp on it, but the board ask that the South Okanagan Similkameen area be considered by the province for the opportunity of establishing a facility in our region,” he said.

Penticton has already expressed the same interest and will hold a town-hall style meeting at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. Although Summerland does not meet all the requirements to host a provincial prison, the municipal council is also seeking public input on a proposed Okanagan correctional facility.

Ashton commented to the RDOS board that he has heard of another community in the South Okanagan Similkameen area that has shown an interest, adding he had only heard this as second-hand information.

“I will fully support it as long as it doesn’t come to Princeton,” joked director and Princeton Mayor Randy McLean.

Area F director Michael Brydon said there are issues to think about if they were to be granted the opportunity to build a 360-cell correctional centre in the Okanagan for use starting in 2015.

“When you say Kingston, Ont. people don’t think history, Great Lakes — they think of prisons. I think there is a very real branding risk out there of having something out there called the Penticton institution or the Summerland institution,” said Brydon.

Some of the criteria for a prison in the Okanagan includes a buildable area of about eight hectares, serviced for electricity, gas, water and sewer, minimal probability of a First Nations claim to aboriginal title, not in the Agricultural Land Reserve and within a 70-minute drive from courts in Kelowna and Vernon.

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