Decision awaited on prison

Just give us an answer because we would like to move on. That appears to be the message which Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino has for the province as she continues to wonder when Victoria will announce the location for a new correctional facility in the Okanagan.

  • Aug. 23, 2011 5:00 p.m.

Just give us an answer because we would like to move on.

That appears to be the message which Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino has for the province as she continues to wonder when Victoria will announce the location for a new correctional facility in the Okanagan.

Summerland has joined the Penticton Indian Band, the Osoyoos Indian Band and the Village of Lumby in bidding for the facility, whose 360 cells would house up to 720 inmates. Construction for the $200 million facility is scheduled to start in 2013 with completion scheduled by 2015.

But this timeline appears to be of secondary importance in light of the fact that Victoria has yet to announce the location of the facility, arguably the most crucial piece of information for municipal officials in the competing communities.

“We just want an answer, one way or another,” she said in an interview after hearing from the province that mum remains the word.

While the province had never committed to announcing its decision by a specific date, officials suggested that the public would know by the middle of summer — a period that is passing with each day as fall approaches.

Perrino insists that she is not being critical of the province in acknowledging that decisions of this magnitude take time.

“Their process is their process… governments tend to move slowly,” she said.

But she also suggested that the public deserves an answer in light of the challenges that lie ahead.

“If you knew this (facility) was a go, there is  a lot of work to be done,” she said. “If it is a no, it just gets shelved.”

Perrino stressed that the current uncertainty has not impacted other municipal projects.

But she noted that the municipality did spend a lot of staff time from January through March of this year in preparing its bid.

This process also included two extensive public hearings, she added.

So what is behind the delay?

Perrino suggests that the recent referendum on the Harmonized Sales Tax and the possibility of a fall election might be possible factors.

A spokesperson for the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Shirley Bond said no decision has been made yet, adding that ministry staff continue to evaluate sites proposed in the four communities.

 

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