Prison seen in positive light

If Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino’s assessment concerning the correctional facility that will be built somewhere in the Okanagan is correct, that is, we really don’t have too much to say about it, then, other than being informational, the meetings that have been held in Lumby, Kelowna, Summerland and Penticton will have no bearing on whether it will be built, just where it will be built. Basically, what this means is that all of the people who have been speaking for or against the facility really haven’t convinced the powers that be of anything. We can just hope that the provincial Correctional Branch will take all of the strategic factors into consideration and select the best site for the buildings.

I would like to make a few positive points about correctional centres that you may not be aware of simply because you may have been influenced by people who have made up their minds negatively towards them.

Ignoring the fact that these buildings will also house those inmates who are in the transitory position of being remanded, they will also house a greater number who have received sentences of less than two years. These persons will receive a core program of substance abuse management, violence prevention, family violence prevention and building respectful relationships.

Other programs will give the inmates drug and alcohol counseling; a program to help them get Grade 12 education; work and skills development such as woodworking, metal work, food preparation, silviculture, etc. To keep in shape, or get in shape, the facility will have a gymnasium and an outside playfield. A chaplain will also provide weekly services. Inmates will also have access to health care professionals from the local community including a psychiatrist or a psychological nurse. Community support includes involvement by the John Howard Society, Salvation Army, Alcoholics Anonymous, an inmate visiting program, a native liaison as well as local university association.

I’m impressed that the province has now made LEED, to the Gold level, mandatory on all its new projects. This means that a building needs to be designed and built “using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.” (Wikipedia)  This basically means that the facility will be on par with the new campus building nearing completion in Penticton. Even if few tourists ever see or visit the area of the Okanagan where the correctional centre will be built, which would be highly unlikely, we can have pride in the fact that we have one of the best facilities of its kind in Canada.

There should also be a significant positive economic benefit to the community that is selected to house such a facility, but I will leave it to others to comment on that.

Frank Martens