Penticton council likely to withdraw prison bid after voters reject proposal

Penticton voters reject proposed provincial correctional centre in official opinion poll.

  • Jun. 20, 2011 4:00 p.m.

It appears that a bid to bring a proposed provincial correctional centre to Penticton is all but dead.

Pentictonites voted two-to-one against building the 360-cell prison within city-limits last week in the municipality’s official opinion poll.

The poll was conducted by the city after its submission of possible locations for the facility — one on Campbell Mountain and one near the Cantex gravel pit — garnered public opposition, protests and a petition.

About 24 per cent of the community’s 26,500 eligible voters turned out to take part in the week-long opinion poll, a total of 6,445 participants answering the question, “Do you approve of a Provincial Correctional Centre being constructed and operated within Penticton?”

Of those voters, 4,302 voted against the concept of bringing the prison to Penticton while 2,143 voted in support of the idea.

Mayor Dan Ashton said he appreciates those voters who took the time to cast a ballot in the poll.

“I want to thank everybody for coming out,” Ashton said Monday morning. “I also want to thank those who took it upon themselves to take on as much information as possible.”

Ashton said he was “a little disappointed with the overall turn-out.”

“I think that a lot of people said, ‘Oh, they are just going to do what they want to do or they don’t care.’ And that has been expressed to me in a lot of conversations between (Sunday) and this morning. Or they said, ‘Oh, we didn’t care. Either way it didn’t matter to me,’” said Ashton. “But what council wanted to do was get it out to the public and see what the public wanted. We did that and as far as I’m concerned the people of Penticton have spoken and I will take that to heart.”

Ashton said he will vote against the prison when the issue is addressed at tonight’s council meeting starting at 6 p.m. He is the third of the six member city council to publicly state as much.

The resounding ‘No’ vote was met with celebration by those opposed to the facility, including Citizens Against Penticton Prison.

“This vote sent a clear and unmistakable message that citizens were not only opposed to locating the jail in Penticton but were concerned with its potential risks and negative impacts,” the group said in a statement.

“The poll result was also a message that Penticton can do better than a jail with regard to its economic and community strategy.”

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