As citizens of Summerland we have good reason to be concerned about locating a prison in our back yard. We can assume that while the prison can accommodate as many as 700 inmates today, it will only grow bigger tomorrow.
Summerland is a laid-back farm and bedroom community with virtually no industry and a very small business core. With a near zero population growth, a facility of this nature will change the character of our city significantly.
Filled to capacity, the inmates and workforce combined could represent more than 10 per cent of the city’s population.
To change our city into a one-industry town, and a prison at that, will also change the perception of Summerland in a big way. Small towns are not suitable sites for institutions of this nature; they do not blend in, no matter how you dress them up. A more logical location would be closer to a major city like Kelowna.
The ministry officials were illusive in their presentation, and probably for good reason. They have to find a place to build this facility. We were told not to worry about families visiting, and that the inmates in all likelihood would return to their homes once their time has been served. What we were not told was that many of those inmates have no homes to return to, and will be more likely to make Summerland their new home.
While the support for the prison is about evenly split, Mayor Perrino is arbitrarily soliciting letters of support only from those citizens who favour locating the prison in Summerland. Perrino was elected to represent all citizens, and to arbitrarily solicit for support from special interest only, is an unusual departure from her mandate.
Those who are opposed to the prison, can log onto our Premier Christy Clark’s website at www.christyclark.ca/premier/ and send her an e-mail with their concerns.