Recently a man who lives one-quarter kilometre away from the Ferndale Institution in Mission, B.C., made some comments on the No Prison in Summerland site.
He expressed his disappointment with the “one sided content” of the blog, and also shared a conflicting account of what it is like to live near a prison in the event of an escape. I say conflicting, because my father also lives within one km of the same prison, the site of two separate escapes in recent months, and their experiences are totally different from one another.
My father’s experience is one of no notification of an escape, whereas the other person claims “whenever there is an escape, there are police everywhere with sirens blazing, dog teams search and a helicopter flying around. You have to be pretty blind and deaf to not notice an escape.”
While I appreciate this person thought he was doing B.C. Corrections a favor with his honest account, I am afraid he may have helped our cause more than his.
This person has plans on moving back to Summerland, to which I pointed out he must be happy to have been afforded the luxury of possibly choosing to move back to a prison town, whereas a lot of us folks here, especially those of us with young children, aren’t thrilled about the prospect of having one forced on us.
The No Prison website (www.summerlandbc.wordpress.com), one sided probably because it is against a prison here, has provided our small community with countless reasons not to support a prison in our foothills.
We, unlike Mission, are a tourist destination. We are small in population, and despite all of our efforts to distract our visitors from the fact that our largest employer is B.C. Corrections; we would be fighting a losing battle.
To think otherwise is naive.
If we could with the wave of a wand, change the general population’s preconceived notions of a “prison town” then we might stand a chance of making a go of it, while maintaining our reputation as one the province’s most desirable tourist destinations. This is not going to happen. You simply cannot expect to come to a town this size, build the province’s largest remand center, and not expect it to change the way people in surrounding areas and abroad feel about it.
When B.C. Corrections made their appeal to the people here at a meeting, there were too many questions they seemed unwilling to answer. Nearer to the end, they were able to admit to local farmers, that this proposed remand center would not be seeking contracts locally.
Remand centers are revolving doors for those most likely to re-offend. They would be released after short stays, into the community to catch a Greyhound across from the school.
And while statistics might not support the odds of these people offending in our schoolyards, there is no denying they are the most likely in our society to do so. If you want to offer your child as a guinea pig in this social experiment, go ahead. We’d personally rather just move. Most of the inmates are not serving long enough sentences for the relocation of their families to be necessary, so economic stimulus from these folks should not be counted on. In the rare event of an escape, we now know what we can expect there. Blaring sirens, helicopters, possibly teams of search dogs. I am sure tourists lunching, wine tasting, and golfing at Sumac would enjoy that.
I feel that should this come to pass, people who support it now will regret it deeply down the road. I realize prisons have to be built somewhere but it is in my humble opinion that once the time is taken to really research the potential effects that this, the largest remand center in the province, could have on our small town, I think you too will see the cons outweigh the pros. Other small communities had the foresight to see the damage this could do to their community. I wish we had the foresight to know that we too, can do better. A vote in favor of this prison in Summerland is a vote for Slammerland.