The province continues to evaluate various sites in the South Okanagan for its plans to build a correctional facility in the Southern Interior.
Solicitor General Shirley Bond recently told the Summerland Review that ministerial staff is continuing to evaluate submitted sites, but did not indicate when the province might make an announcement.
“I look forward to reviewing final recommendations as soon as possible,” she said.
“We hope to make a decision in the near future. At the same time, it’s important to recognize this is a historic, long-term investment for both the province and the final chosen community and we need to give all of our options careful consideration to ensure we get it right.”
Reports suggested that the province might make an announcement before the end of June.
Note however that no provincial official ever directly committed to a specific deadline regarding an announcement.
Summerland is bidding for the facility along with Lumby, the Penticton Indian Band and the Osoyoos Indian Band.
Penticton dropped out of the running after council had voted to abandon the project following a referendum last month.
While the referendum drew about 24 per cent of eligible voters, two-thirds of them rejected the idea of a prison in the community.
“We’ve always said that community support is a key consideration as we consider various proposals for a new jail site in the interior of the province,” said Bond in commenting on the outcome of the referendum.
Support for the facility appears to be higher in Summerland where a poll conducted earlier showed 52 per cent of respondents in favour of the proposed facility, 45 per cent opposed and three per cent undecided.
If Summerland were to win the bidding process against its regional competitors, the facility would be located at the north entrance of the community off Highway 97. Summerland officials say this location offers many advantages. Summerland, however, has apparently not gone to the lengths of its competitors.
A delegation that included Oliver Mayor Pat Hampson, local MLA John Slater and Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie visited Victoria last month to directly meet with Bond.
While reported assessments of said meeting differ, it could have given the OIB bid the inside track.
“We left the meeting feeling that we place highest on the shortlist at this time,” Hampson said.