Provincial prison decision awaited

While municipal representatives will meet with Attorney General and Minister of Public Safety Shirley Bond later this month to discuss the future of a proposed provincial prison, Mayor Janice Perrino wonders if the project will be abandoned.

While municipal representatives will meet with Attorney General and Minister of Public Safety Shirley Bond later this month to discuss the future of a proposed provincial prison, Mayor Janice Perrino wonders if the project will be abandoned.

Perrino said the meeting with Bond is scheduled for the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention at the end of the month.

She said the province had promised to announce the location of the prison by April 1, more than five months ago.

Perrino said the referendum to abandon the Harmonized Sales Tax and return to the Goods and Services Tax and the Provincial Sales Tax could be a factor in the delay of the announcement.

She said the transition back to two taxes will be expensive for the province.

“There may not be enough money to build a prison at this time,” she said. “It would not surprise me to see the project shelved.”

Locations have been proposed from Summerland, the Penticton Indian Band, the Osoyoos Indian Band and Lumby.

The 360-cell prison would hold up to 720 prisoners.

The cost is estimated at $200 million. Construction is to begin in 2013 with completion scheduled for 2015.

Summerland’s proposed site is off Highway 97 in the northern part of the community.

While Perrino has been hesitant about a prison in Summerland, she said the location would be acceptable.

“I could live with the location because it’s out of town,” she said.

She added that the status of the prison should not be an issue during the upcoming municipal election this fall.

She said council has already submitted a location and it is now up to the provincial government to determine where a prison will be built.