Recently, Mayor Ashton received a petition on which there were approximately 3,500 signatures in protest to the proposed prison here in the city. He accepted the petition on the steps of the City Hall. Here, he would have us believe that by accepting the petition, he was doing due diligence as mayor. He accepted the petition; went through the motions of it being important enough to be dealt with in council; and by his body language tried to create the impression that it was important. Mr. Mayor, body language is tell-tale. Surely, basic 101 Toastmaster guidelines told you that.
Since backing away from the $50,000 proposed referendum and supplanting it with the $6,000 survey, some questions come to mind. Was the reversal in decision really due to legalities or was there a face-saving tactic to detract from wanton, willy-nilly spending? The survey idea raises another question. That question is: “Why a survey, and what will it prove if there is no concrete outcome to the wishes of the taxpayers?”
We have been told by the mayor and some other councillors that the economic benefits to this community would be great. They know this how? Have they done any really in-depth studies that corroborate this? After all, they have visited other areas in the province and seem to have concluded that the economic spin-offs would be a tremendous boost to our local economy. So now they want us to believe that seeing is truly believing and to take their word for it and that this is true. There is no data to support their observations of other prison-type facilities other than what they were told or what they saw. This is not relative to our area whose economy relies on the tourist industry, the wine industry, fruit industry, the retail industry and some light manufacturing industry.
I have alluded to studies in Washington state, Oregon and several other states. Evidently, sociological values don’t have any bearing in Canada as these studies were deemed as being non-relative to Canada by our city council? Non-relative be-damned, people are people. Borders don’t differentiate how people interact in certain situations. These studies showed that there were no real major economic benefits to hosting a prison. In fact, the impact might even be somewhat detrimental. The overall question about geography being a factor is utter nonsense. The councillors just don’t want to admit that they have not really done their homework and that what they tell us is, in fact, the way it is. Anyone that believes that might believe that you can change a $10 bill into three threes and a one.
If council has some of these “hard facts”, why haven’t they been released to the press and public? Could it be that there aren’t any or could it be that they don’t want us to see them? Coun. Pearce, are you listening?