I would like to make the following observations about Penticton council’s unanimous decision to formally propose the Campbell Mountain and Cantex sites as locations for a prison in Penticton:
I checked the council agenda for March 21 to make sure I would attend the meeting where this item, that I consider “make or break” for the long-term future of Penticton, was discussed and decided. It was not on the agenda. It was discussed under “business arising from in-camera”. I consider this sly and devious. City council should have been open with the public and should have made it clear that this motion was going to be put forward on that date — especially given the discussion and public concern that the issue has triggered.
Council voted unanimously in favour of putting a prison in Penticton. That means that it does not form anywhere near a fair representation of the people of Penticton in this matter. Whatever the real distribution of views for or against the prison (only a referendum can tell that for sure), no one can claim that the population of Penticton is unanimously in favour of the prison. I would suggest that a very large section of the population actually opposes the prison. Council was not elected on this issue and should refer it back to the citizens of Penticton, because it cannot seriously claim a mandate to make a decision of this gravity and far-reaching consequences for the future of this town based on an election 2.5 years ago when this issue was not on the horizon.
If the majority of letters about this issue to council oppose the prison, as they do, and if the vast majority of the speakers at the second public forum where the sites were announced spoke against the prison, as they did, how does this represent listening to the public? Were the requests for input really only a charade?