I have been following the prison debate with some consistency since the early stages of the proposition, and I hope to contribute something useful to this debate.
I have lived in Penticton off and on for about five years now. I have gone to OUC (when it was OUC), taught in the public school, worked at wholesale club and at the boys and girls club, and one thing that I have observed from Pentictonites is a deep sense of entitlement. For example, most, if not all of us, enjoy amenities in this city that our population could not support if not for the influx of tourists and the money they put into different businesses. However, that fact does not stop many of us from complaining about the increased traffic, the party noise and the general overcrowding of our favorite beaches, parks and streets.
In the prison debate, I can’t help but see that same sense of entitlement come up. That sense of “This is my city, and I want it this way.” Some of us have to wake up to the realization that many, if not all, of the things we enjoy are a direct result of some of the things that make our life inconvenient. I would ask those who claim they are resisting the prison in the name of “what’s best for the city,” this: Are you fighting for what is best for the city, or what is best for you and your social circle? Are you thinking of those less privileged than yourself?
Not unrelated to those questions, I have noticed that it is those who are of a particular social status and/or seem to have a lot of time on their hands that are the most vocal and resistant to anything that would disrupt their vision of what Penticton should look like, or rather, what Penticton should stay like. Those who are working 50-plus hours a week and are struggling in low-paying jobs for any number of reasons generally don’t have time to tape up posters downtown and picket during the day. I don’t even know if these people will have time to vote on the upcoming referendum.
Finally, it is ironic to me that those who come here and set up their multi-million-dollar houses like a buffet table in front of a starving man, would be concerned about a prison attracting criminals to Penticton. Just sayin’.