Prison train has left the station

A contingent from the city visited several areas where correctional facilities are located in various areas of the Lower Mainland et al. This group has come back with glowing reports; boosted impressions as to the benefits of such facilities and fruitful discussions with facility leaders. This group deserves a gold star for diligence, especially one or two of the real proponents of this proposal. What does this prove to us, the residents? The answer to that is: not much. All of this is only in the eye of the beholder. The rest is conjecture as we, the residents, only have second-hand information to go on.

It seems that the city fathers’ memories have become short or that myopia has set in. Do they not remember that the residents were sold a bill of goods on the SOEC and how it would attract all the premier acts because it was here? Do they not remember how locals were given a cost figure and how ridiculously high it was at the end? It seems that they are endeavoring to travel down this path again by thinking: “Build it and there will be an economic boom, a land of bilk and honey,” from an economic, or should I say city coffers standpoint.

The city railroad seems to be back in business vis a vis the last council and its SOEC project.

Perhaps this council might learn something from former Premier Campbell’s zeal in justifying the HST by saying that it is the right tax; it’s the right time and it’s good for B.C. and will stimulate the B.C. economy by creating hundreds of jobs with tremendous economic benefits.

We saw where that went. We’re still waiting. Where is he now? What’s happening with the HST? Did I hear the word referendum somewhere?

If the Penticton city railroad lays the track for this train to reach its destination purely on its own whim, we are in trouble, as we won’t be riding it but we will have some inherent costs to pay. These costs may be personal ones such as: decreased property values for those residents located near or overlooking such a facility; difficulty in selling said property; fewer higher paying jobs for locals with locals getting entry-level jobs or lesser skilled jobs; the adverse effect on the tourist industry and more than that the stigma attached to being known as a prison city. It brings to mind Matsqui. When we hear that name, do we connect it to a fertile, serene farming community or a prison town?

If this is the bent of the city fathers, the train appears to have reached its destination in their minds. Remember in 2005, we had a referendum on whether or not the community was going to have ball fields. By their actions are we to believe that city fathers don’t consider the prison issue referendum worthy? Also remember that this council was not elected on this issue so a referendum is the only way that people can have their say, unless council does not want people to have a say. Is the motto: Penticton — A Place to Stay Forever, just token lip-service?

Are you listening city fathers as the election is not that far away?

Ron Barillaro