Mayor says Summerland will vote on prison if selected

Summerland has no plans to follow Penticton’s lead with a referendum on a proposed prison, at least not yet.

Summerland has no plans to follow Penticton’s lead with a referendum on a proposed prison, at least not yet.

Mayor Janice Perrino said the district will not hold such a referendum unless it knows for sure that the province has identified Summerland as the preferred location for the prison which Victoria plans to build in the region.

Perrino — who called such a referendum “premature” in light of the fact that it is still unclear where the province plans to build the proposed 360-cell correctional facility — said the district has too many other items on its agenda right now to schedule a referendum.

“We have far too many things to worry about,” she said in wondering aloud if Penticton had any inside information.  She also questioned the cost of holding a referendum in light of the fact that the province is still deciding after receiving final submissions, including Summerland’s, last month.

“Why would you waste the money?” she asked.

But Perrino left no doubt that the district would consult the public through a referendum if the province were to choose Summerland as a destination for the facility.

“We will absolutely do a vote,” she said, adding that district council would abide by the wishes of the electorate.

Perrino offered these comments after the public last week heard of plans from city officials in Penticton to schedule a binding referendum.

Penticton has scheduled the referendum for June 18 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the South Okanagan Events Centre after council had unanimously endorsed such a step by a 5-0 vote.

The city will budget $50,000 for the process, which will include mail-in voting; two advance polls; curb-side voting so people with mobility issues can vote from their vehicles; and voting opportunities for the elderly and shut-ins at the hospitals and seniors locations.

Solicitor General Shirley Bond told the Western News earlier this week that she expects to have a recommendation on the site of the potential correctional centre before ballots are cast in Penticton

During an April 30 referendum, 56 per cent of those who voted in the Village of Lumby said yes to a prison while 44 per cent said no. Residents living in the adjoining rural area around Lumby rejected the idea, as 66 per cent voted no.

Village officials have since announced that it would pursue development of a correctional facility.