Solicitor General says Kelowna not in the running for prison site

Ambitions for a prison within Kelowna’s boundaries were laid to rest Tuesday afternoon, when B.C.’s Solicitor General publicly put a kibosh on the plan 15 years in the making.

Ambitions for a prison within Kelowna’s boundaries were laid to rest Tuesday afternoon, when B.C.’s Solicitor General publicly put the kibosh on a plan 15 years in the making.

“It’s critical that local governments and citizens be part of selecting a site for this new secure custody centre,” said a representative for Rich Coleman, following the minister’s initial statement that there would never be a prison on the lands zoned for such use.

“That’s why we’ve asked local governments to forward recommendations so that we can ensure we find the best site—one that has community support and meets all of the project criteria.

“The Jim Bailey Road property, also known as the Potterton Road property, was identified back in 1996 and it does not meet our current criteria.”

It’s a stance that surprised Mayor Sharon Shepherd, as it’s completely contrary to what she’s been told by the three previous Solicitor Generals.

“We were already shocked when the province, last year, asked communities to come to the table and come up with a potential site,” she said.

“That letter went out and it didn’t even identify that the site in Kelowna was already zoned.”

A chunk of the old Hiram Walker site was purchased by the province years earlier and after a lengthy public process, the city rezoned it in 1996, so it could be used as a prison.

It was believed the project would move forward shortly after that, but first priority was put on a prison built in Port Coquitlam. Then in 2008, when it seemed as though all systems were go, it was scuttled again by the protest of the Okanagan Indian Band.

Despite all that, Shepherd was of the belief it would come to be, so she wrote the minister’s office when she heard the call for proposals, trying to suss out why the call was even made.

To that she got a response from Coleman’s office saying, “You should be aware that this site was considered to be unsuitable three years ago.”

Shepherd wrote him again on Feb. 8 and from the ensuing conversation, she came to believe that further discussion with prison opponents could keep Kelowna in the running for a facility that she said would be a “win-win” situation for all involved

So she scheduled a Feb. 28 meeting between the Okanagan Indian Band and members of the District of Lake Country.

“Now with the ‘no way, no how’ announcement, I’ll have to go back to council to see if we should proceed,” she said.

“We aren’t going to identify another site, as was mentioned, and this has all been a big loss to the Valley.”

Taxpayers money was spent in the lead up to rezoning the site, but more than anything else, she said, the new prison is needed and this blip could throw the timeline way off. Any city in the running now will have to go through the same process Kelowna did in 1996, and that’s likely to be time consuming.

“There needs to be correctional facility, and if a community can come to grips with it, then we’ll absolutely support them.

“The Lumby mayor asked me last fall, and I said I don’t know why you are going after a site, because there is one in Kelowna already,” she said, adding she’s learned the city has become quite divided over the issue.

Just Posted

(Facebook)
New trial date set in Penticton for Thomas Kruger-Allen’s triple assault charges

May trial was delayed after Crown witnesses failed to show up

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

Scales of Justice
Acquittal in Okanagan crash that killed vacationing dentist

Daerio Romeo, 29, was charged with dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Penticton to get outdoor ice rink this winter

It’s hoped the rink will be ready to host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

The fate of Skaha Marina and its operations will be decided Saturday, June 19 on general election day. (File photo)
Penticton city hosted last forum before voters decide on fate of Skaha Marina

Residents share concerns about length of operations agreement, parking and control of park

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Vernon-Monashee NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu supported a motion in the B.C. legislature for Canada to create a national Indigenous History month Monday, June 13, 2021. (Contributed)
Canada needs a national Indigenous History Month, Vernon MLA agrees

Harwinder Sandhu supports motion to recognize June as month to advance reconciliation efforts with First Nations

Orange ribbons are tied to the fence outside Vernon’s Gateway Homeless Shelter on 33rd Street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
POLL: Low-key Canada Day in the works for Vernon

Councillor calling for Indigenous recognition for 2022

A conceptual design of Vernon’s new Active Living Centre, which will go to referendum Oct. 15, 2022. (Rendering)
Active living centre 2022 referendum planned in Vernon

City hoping to get Coldstream and Areas B and C back on board

Closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue will allow restaurants and other businesses to extend their patios onto the street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Green light given to downtown Vernon road closure

Single block of 30th Avenue to close over summer months to boost business

Graduating Grade 12 student Savannah Lamb has been awarded an approximate $40,000 scholarship from the Beedie Luminaries foundation. (Contributed)
Dedicated Salmon Arm student earns scholarship to pursue post-secondary education

Savannah Lamb is graduating from Salmon Arm Secondary with a $40,000 scholarship

A provided photo of the suspect. (Kelowna RCMP/Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP investigating after business robbed

An undisclosed amount of money and merchandise were taken from the business

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Most Read