Penticton Indian Band weigh options on prison

The Penticton Indian Band will be deciding next week if they are in support of having a jail located in the region.

The Penticton Indian Band will be deciding next week if they are in support of having a jail located in the region.

Chief Jonathan Kruger said the PIB meeting with B.C. Corrections on Wednesday answered many of the questions the band members had, but no decision was made on if they are in favour of having a correctional facility in the region and no properties were identified on the PIB land, unlike how the Summerland and Penticton public forums presented options earlier this week.

“We simply got all of our questions answered and now we will have another meeting on Wednesday to talk more internally whether we are going to be in favour of moving forward or not,” said Kruger. “We need to talk more internally about it. We have all the information in front of us and we will find out more next Wednesday. We are hoping at that time we can talk about some locations ourselves.”

On Monday, Summerland hosted a forum where five pieces of property were identified which was followed by a meeting in Penticton on Tuesday where the privately owned Cantex gravel pit, city-owned public works yard and a piece of property behind Campbell Mountain were identified as potential locations for the jail that the province would like built by 2015.

Kruger said they will be hearing from the PIB community on Wednesday and getting a mandate on what the PIB’s next move will be.

“We are hoping on Wednesday that we will either get a mandate that says to move forward or a mandate that says no, it’s not good enough for us,” said Kruger. “It doesn’t mean it’s a done deal though. We still need to work on a location, a business-case scenario, talk about the numbers with the province about the lease, the grant in lieu of tax. These are all things we don’t know yet,” said Kruger.

The B.C. Corrections representatives told those in attendance at the Penticton meeting there is no guarantee of local jobs and other than the union positions, all jobs will be posted for equal opportunity of all B.C. residents to apply for.

“If we get a mandate to move forward on the jail, I told them (B.C. Corrections) straight up that we are going to be shooting for guaranteed jobs. But again, we need that mandate to move forward first,” said Kruger.

The chief said the B.C. Corrections representatives provided information that “took a lot of fear out of the community members,” in terms of what jails look like. He added the meeting was very well attended by band members, including the PIB youth.

“I am so proud of our youth. It takes a lot of strength to stand up in front of a lot of people to speak from your heart and mind. I was really impressed by those who spoke,” said Kruger.