Without a prison

Summerland must find new avenues of economic growth since the prison bid and other projects have failed to materialize.

A provincial prison, to be built in the Okanagan Valley, will go to the Osoyoos Indian Band, not Summerland.

Those who wanted the economic benefits from a 360-cell prison are disappointed now, since the employment base and tax base will not be realized.

Those who were uneasy about having a prison in the community are feeling relief as they will not have to cope with the changes a prison would have brought.

However, without the prison, Summerland is left in an uncomfortable position.

The population has been declining and in recent years, some significant employers have left town. Summerland desperately needs to reverse this decline.

Too often, the community has looked to outside help to bolster the economy.

This was most noticeable when the Summerland Hills Golf Resort was under consideration. The Official Community Plan of the day was written with the Summerland Hills site as the only area for new development. But Summerland Hills did not materialize.

A university campus, proposed for the community, was another attempt to infuse the local economy. But today, nearly a decade after the site was dedicated, the campus still has not been built and there are no immediate plans to bring a campus here.

The same holds true of other ventures over the years.

If there is one lesson from the prison decision and other past projects, it should be to plan for our future without expecting a rescue from the government or an outside developer.

We need to consider our options and come up with our own suggestions, to promote and enhance our community. The municipal economic forum coming up will be one place to discuss new opportunities that will outshine the prison project.