Okanagan prison delay blamed on economic downturn

Premier says decision on South Okanagan correctional centre will be made soon

  • Dec. 13, 2011 10:00 a.m.
Premier Christy Clark speaks to members of the public following a town hall meeting Monday in Penticton.

Premier Christy Clark speaks to members of the public following a town hall meeting Monday in Penticton.

Uncertain financial times has prevented the B.C. government from pulling the trigger on finalizing the details on the proposed correctional facility in the South Okanagan.

So says Premier Christy Clark, whose visit to Penticton Monday was spent answering questions from the media about the proposed South Okanagan prison facility, and what was taking her government so long to make a decision.

“It’s still in planning work. It’s working its way through Treasury Board and some of those government processes right now. It’s taken longer than we’d anticipated for two reasons. First, it’s a huge capital project in what is a very tough economy. As economies of the world have really gone south, we’ve been very carefully considering every dollar that we spend. It’s a very big project,” she said.

Clark dismissed the idea that the HST referendum held earlier this year resulted in delays on the prison project.

“Overall, it’s fair to say that the HST has had an impact on the budget. There’s no question about it. There’s $1.6 billion we have to pay back to the federal government. So that’s having an impact across government,” she said. “But we’re working our way through it. We’re looking at government with the knowledge of the HST having an impact, but way, way, way more importantly what is going on in the world economy.

“That is the biggest challenge B.C. faces economically, and we are at the moment a safe harbour for jobs and job creation. But we will not remain a safe harbour if government starts going out spending irresponsibly. If we’re not a safe harbour anymore, then we’re not attracting investment and losing jobs, not creating them. That’s the equation we’re trying to put together.”

The provincial government announced last year that it wanted to build a remand centre in the South Okanagan as one measure to combat prison overcrowding in B.C. Corrections facilities. In an effort to move on the project quickly, the Solicitor General’s office had required a tight turnaround time from municipalities to express interest in the project, forcing many to draft submission packages within months while selling the idea to residents.

Although early indications had shown a decision was expected in June, the summer months came and went — along with fall and heading into winter.

When asked when residents could anticipate the government’s decision, Clark only offered “soon.”

“You’ll get a final decision soon. I wish I could be more specific than that,” she said.

The other element holding back a decision, she said, was the volume of material submitted by citizens reflecting their opinions on the project.

Some communities held a referendum on bringing a remand centre within their municipal boundaries: Penticton residents shot down the referendum, while Lumby passed a similar plebiscite by a narrow margin. Summerland has indicated it would consider holding a referendum if the province chooses the district as the desired location.

“I’ve been listening closely to the views of local residents. They vary dramatically in Osoyoos and Penticton, for example,” she said. “I went down to Osoyoos a few months ago, and people were pretty excited about the prospect of a prison. In Penticton? Not as many people excited about it.

“I’m feeding that knowledge into our decision because if you want to open up government and you believe in letting people have a say, which I do, you listen to people’s views before you make a decision.”

 

 

Just Posted

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Cheetahs can’t roar

Your morning start for Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Highway 3, east of Osoyoos was closed all Monday due to a liquid tar spilled all over the road.
Highway 3, east of Osoyoos, is now open to single lane traffic

The highway was closed all Monday due to liquid tar spilled all over the road

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

(Pixabay.com photo)
No COVID-19 baby boom in Summerland

Pandemic has not resulted in surge in births in 2020 and 2021

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A West Kelowna man was seriously injured in a single-vehicle collision early on Tuesday morning. (Black Press file photo)
Single vehicle collision seriously injures West Kelowna man

The man was driving a pickup truck that went off the road and caught on fire

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

Kelowna artist Bobby Vandenhoorn recently completed mural of late Canadian rock icon and activist Gord Downie now adorns Brenda Dalzell’s Sicamous business, the Bruhn Crossing Urban Market. (Contributed)
Canadian rock legend, activist Gord Downie inspires Sicamous mural

Business owner hopes artwork will help foster ongoing conversations around reconciliation

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Most Read