A Prison in Summerland, BC? No: Oliver.

Correctional facility approved for Oliver, BC

Archive for March 2011

Can we talk?

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Show us why we are wrong

As a group of Summerland business owners, we have put a lot of time and energy into researching the effects of prisons and remand centres on small rural towns.

We are business people interested in growth; visitors and newcomers to the town are what drives our businesses.

Why would we be fighting the presence the remand centre if we had any reason to believe it would actually be positive for Summerland? Based on the research and examples of other small towns, we can’t help but come to the conclusion it would be a bad move for this town.

warning signs?

Red flags

But it was more than just the research that made us leery of the deal with the government: There are too many inconsistencies, too many misrepresentations of what the facility will be, to unquestioningly accept what we were told by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor Generals office. Like any relationship, if it starts off with one of the parties being evasive then there is little room left for trust.

What do we fear?

  1. Privatization (P3’s) –There is nothing to stop the government from privatizing the correctional facility in every aspect from project design, construction and finance to operations. The new Surrey Pretrial with a completion date of 2013, is the first P3 in the province. (source: Journal of Commerce) If we get the prison, who is to say ours wouldn’t be next?
  2. Construction companies brought in from Vancouver – Depending on which company wins the contract for building the remand centre, a crew could be brought in from outside and paid a live-out wage to be here until project completion. The result will be that the anticipated jobs for locals won’t materialize.
  3. Pre-fab units used in construction– A number of prisons are now being built using pre-fabricated units. (eg: the new Toronto South Detention Centre) This is a cost saving measure for the government and reduces the amount of local labor required and brings little into the local economy as the units are built elsewhere.
  4. Facility staff live elsewhere – Correctional staff may choose to live in larger towns with more amenities such as Penticton, Westbank or Kelowna, supporting those economies rather than ours.
  5. Negative impact on local economy – It is possible that due to miscalculations regarding the amount of cash the province is willing to pitch in, Summerland could end up in a no-way-out dire economic situation. The provincial government grants, in lieu of taxes, range from $0.5 million to $1.5 million. If we received the low-end of $0.5 and we had to pay for two more RCMP officers, we are left with $300,000. (Council has been informed that costs of additional policing will be picked up by the town.)

Each one of the above five examples could have negative consequences for the local Summerland economy. And if we are branded as a prison-town in the process, there is no going back.

For or against…

AGAINST: If you are against the prison and have evidence in the way of further research, studies, or examples showing that prisons can negatively affect the economy, social structure, or real estate values of a small rural area, then it would be appreciated if you would share your info with us.

FOR: If you are for the facility and have studies or research to show how it could benefit a town with a profile such as Summerlands’, then we’d like to hear from you as well. Send us some information to convince us that we are wrong in thinking a prison is a bad idea for our town and we will post it and open it up for discussion. Tell us why you are for it and back it up.

Check out our research

There is a lot at stake here. Please consider the research we’ve put forward in various sections on this blog; research that represents countless hours of doing our due diligence concerning the facts regarding correctional facilities in small towns.

Written by summerlandbc

March 31, 2011 at 9:00 pm

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Words of wisdom

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“If you don’t put your money where your mouth is then shut up…. Come up with ideas to put on the wall to make the town more attractive. But 99% of the ideas will have a pricetag. Where is the money coming from? Ideas without money have no legs – they just stay on the flipchart. Put your money where your mouth is…” Chief Clarence Louie at the Summerland Outlook Conference 2011

 

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March 29, 2011 at 6:10 pm

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‘Trojan horse’ used to smuggle drugs

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Smuggling motivates policy shift

A vehicle brought in for repairs at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre is now under investigation.

March 25, 2011 – Jail guards at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre say a trailer may have been used as a “Trojan horse” to smuggle drugs, weapons, and cellphones into the jail.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General confirmed this week that the Maple Ridge prison has now beefed up its policy “to prohibit public vehicles from being accepted into any on-site work programs.”

Ridge Meadows RCMP said that an investigation was launched at the correctional centre on March 7.

Postmedia Network Inc. received a tip that drugs, makeshift knives, cellphones, steroids, and steroid needles were hidden in the walls of a trailer that was brought into the jail, at the request of a private citizen, for inmates to repair.

Inmates deliberately broke gym equipment and took it into the jail’s metal work shop, according to information given to Postmedia. There, the inmates removed the contraband then distributed it, said a guard, who refused to give his name. A stash of drugs was later found in the prison, he said.

Read full story canada.com

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March 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm

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BFI Waste Management Canada

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The following is a correction to our pamphlet handed out at the Summerland Town meeting on March 7:

Please note that the information regarding BFI Waste Management being part of The Blackstone Group in NYC, is out of date. In 2000 Allied Waste (an investment of Blackstone) sold BFI’s Canadian assets to a group of investors, including the BFI trademark. The new company took the name ‘BFI Canada’.

BFI Canada now has an American sister company for waste management contracts in the US. It operates under the name IESI as the BFI trademark can no longer be used in the US.

This information was with regards to the awarding of the Summerland waste disposal contract that was awarded to BFI.

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March 25, 2011 at 11:55 am

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The sky is not falling

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Pro prison fear mongering summerland bc

“… ANOTHER, HUGE WAKE UP CALL for those opposed to economic development in Summerland.” Hmmm.

The above quote is from the spokeswoman for the ‘Summerland Business Wants In’ group, regarding the closing of Glenfir School. She insists this is yet another example of why Summerland needs a prison. More of her quotes:

“We are concerned about what we see happening here; businesses are closing, others are relocating to Penticton etc.” (CHBC News Video Segment March 1.)

“…Prisonland would be a lot better than boarded up Summerland!!! Note to naysayers….have you not noticed businesses closing their doors one after another…??!!!???” (comments regarding our Prisonland sign.)

“We’ve seen businesses come and go for one thing, we’ve seen businesses shut their doors completely, we’ve also seen businesses relocate to more vibrant communities and we’ve seen a number of significant job losses.” Daybreak Radio Show interview.

Up until now, we (the ‘No Prison’ camp) haven’t bothered responding to the inane comments on Facebook, Twitter, various blogs, or accusations of being fear mongers. However in light of the spokeswoman’s most recent comments regarding the closing of Glenfir School, we would like to address this issue in particular.

Some facts about Glenfir School:

Glenfir school had 76 students and 20 staff members. Tuition fees ranged from $4600-$8600 per year. Even though the school had other means of fundraising, Glenfir was still a large facility – expensive to run. The head of the school said the decision to close was based solely on economics and the constant battle of a declining birthrate. Is it not unreasonable to expect that a retirement community would be likely to have a declining birth rate? Birth rate aside, it seems that Glenfir is an isolated case.

Writer Doris Janssen on the closing of Glenfir School, CHBC News, March 18, 2011 :

“…however, the economy has not hurt all independent schools in the Okanagan. Aberdeen Hall, located near UBC Okanagan, expects at least a 20% enrolment increase next fall, its fifth year of increases in a row. Chris Grieve, principal of Aberdeen Hall, believes the independent school industry has never been stronger and says the problems at Glenfir are an isolated incident and were likely a product of the school’s location in Summerland.”

For the Summerland Montessori school, their location hasn’t hurt their enrollment. Currently the school has 54 students; split between kindergarten to grade 5. Not only is it doing well but the school is also in the middle of an expansion. Cal Johnson, head of the private school, said the board had been considering the expansion for several years. “We’ve been waiting for the right time to do it.” Adding the Grade 6 students will increase the school population by six to eight students in fall, and when Grade 7 and 8 are added, Johnson expects the three grades will bring an additional 30 students to the school. An expansion to the facility or a new location will be needed when Grade 7 and 8 are added and the board is looking at expansion options at present.

Even if one uses the highest tuition from Glenfir of $8400 and multiplies that x 76 then subtract the wages of the 20 staff, the numbers just don’t add up. But forget the math and just look at the other schools that are increasing enrollment and expanding. Maybe Summerland wasn’t the right place for Glenfir but it seems to suit Montessori quite well. There were perhaps other factors that we can’t know about, such as possibly not having an advertising budget to announce their existence to the world or maybe the way the business was being run made it just not a viable proposition.

Let’s not sell out the town based on ‘the sky is falling’ negative thinking.

In an interview for CHBC Global News Video (March 12, 2010), regarding the elimination of the economic development officers postition, Councillor Bruce Hallquist said council wasn’t sure what the town’s new economic development direction would look like but said one focus would likely be on business retention, an idea the local chamber said could make a huge difference in the local economy.

Lisa Jaager from the Summerland Chamber of Commerce: “If every business in Summerland hired one person even part time, that would be 650 new jobs in Summerland. That’s our focus those new jobs in Summerland from existing businesses – grow from the inside up, inside out. Jaager said Summerlands tourism and retail sectors are actually doing quite well this year. “We have our Summerland Waterfront Resort and Spa which had the best year EVER, we’ve had wineries; some of our smaller case wineries selling out.”

Jaager believes that instead of attempting to bring in big business Summerland should keep it’s focus on what it already does best, tourism, agriculture and small Mom and Pop retail businesses. “I think that if we focus on what we have, and grow what we have, we’ll do just fine. Absolutely.” said Jaager. She later added that the Kettle Valley Railway had a record breaking year in 2010; 28,000 visitors on the train and 6000 additional coming to the KVR trail for biking and walking the trail.

The downturn in the economy is not specific to Summerland – it is a global downturn and smart business is taking the standard recessionary measures necessary to ensure they get through it.

Contrary to the naysayers who insist that businesses are closing at incredible rates; last year there were approximately 90 new businesses listed in Summerland. Assuming they have a good business plan and a viable product, they should be here for many years to come.

Written by summerlandbc

March 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm

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Are your property values at stake?

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Proposed prison site adjacent to Hunter's Hill Summerland

“The prison would create jobs and economic benefits. It would bring families to the community, they would be buying homes, kids enrolled in the school – it all benefits the economy.” says Arlene Fenrich, spokesperson for the group ‘Summerland Business Wants In’.

However, for the developer of Hunter’s Hill, also a member of ‘Summerland Business Wants In’, the LULU aspect (Locally Unwanted Land Use), may result in the cons being greater than the pros when it literally ends up in one’s own backyard. The following statement was posted March 10 on the developer’s blog :

The District of Summerland has formally announced support for 5 prison sites.

“One of the sites borders the development lands of Hunter’s Hills Holdings, our  family owned corporation. Our lands consist of 3 titles totalling approximately 165 acres, zoned for development.  The holding is considered to be prime Okanagan development property. The property sits at the north gateway to Summerland, on Garnett Valley Road, Bentley Road, Sanborn St and neighbours the Crown Land. At this time, Hunter’s Hills Holdings is discerning the important announcement made this week at an information meeting held in Summerland hosted by Mayor and Council. We are doing our best to understand the process as to how these sites came to be supported by the District. We are currently obtaining information so that we can understand the potential impact on our lands, positive and negative.”

If it turns out that the location chosen is the property bordering Hunter’s Hill Holdings, is the developer suggesting (in above statement), that this decision may impact his property value? If so how can this possibly benefit our community if no matter where the prison is placed its surrounding property values will diminish? Or, is this considered as taking one for the team, if your property happens to border on the prison site?

Written by summerlandbc

March 21, 2011 at 9:40 am

Posted in Property Values

What is the security level for the new prison?

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Question: The security level of proposed new Okanagan facility is:

Proposed Summerland Prison security level

If you answered C you would be correct. Unfortunately not a lot of locals, including reporters with the Penticton Herald would answer: c. Maximum security. In today’s paper (March 15, 2011) in an article on page A4: Headline: “Osoyoos band eyes jail”. Sub headline: Site on reserve north of Oliver suggested for MEDIUM SECURITY facility…” More from the article :”Plans call for a 360 cell MEDIUM SECURITY prison …”

This is irresponsible journalism and people could well use this erroneous information to decide whether to vote yes or no.

I received verification regarding the fact that this is MAXIMUM security directly from Tedd Howard (Deputy Provincial Director, Capital Projects, BC Corrections) after calling him this morning on his cellphone. Tedd was one of the Ministry representatives at the meeting in Summerland March 7. The conversation went as follows:

Q. “Tedd, would you mind clarifying for me what the level of security is for the proposed new prison? It seems that even after the informative Town Meeting session, some people are still not clear and we need to get this straight.”

A. “It is built to maximum security and will house open, medium and maximum offenders.”

Q. “So Tedd, just to clarify then, does this mean that the facility will be a MAXIMUM security prison?”

A. “That’s correct. I’m not sure which side you are coming from on this issue.  I’m not trying to hide behind any weasel words. But we intend to build it as a MAXIMUM security facility.”

Q. “So Tedd, just to make certain so that there’s no mistake; it is in fact classed as a MAXIMUM security prison, correct?”

A. “That’s correct.”

“Thanks Tedd, I appreciate you clearing this up.”

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March 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Importing the drug culture

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Death of a Drumheller inmate

Justin Wood, an inmate at Drumheller medium security prison died October 31, 2010 from a drug overdose. His family want to know how the recovering crack cocaine addict managed to obtain drugs inside a secure facility dedicated to drug rehabilitation. Justin’s father, David Wood said; “It was harder to stay away from drugs inside than it was on the street. They were always available. There’s something wrong with the system that allows the kind of things that get in there to get in there.”

How drugs get into prisons

There are five main routes for illicit drugs to get into prisons. The use of each route and the traffic flowing along it will alter from time to time and from place to place. The routes are:

  • ‘Over the wall’
  • Visitors
  • Post and parcels
  • Reception and remand prisoners
  • Through corrupt staff

Source: Correctional Services Canada: Gangs and Drugs Symposium; Disrupting the supply of illicit drugs into prisons

Continued drug use in Canada’s prisons is troubling

Ombudsman Howard Sapers said the continued drug use in Canada’s prisons is troubling. “In any penitentiary, prisoners are generating pressure for people to be involved in illegal activity outside the institution, so people are being pressured or muscled to have visitors attempt to transport drugs inside the institution.”

Despite a new emphasis on increased security and screening in prisons, in Alberta guards still find drugs, on average, twice a week. The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers president, Kevin Grabowsky said they constantly see new and creative ways of getting the narcotics inside. “They’ve been stuffed in dead birds, tennis balls and pop cans before being thrown over two fences. Guards have even intercepted drug containers strapped to arrows and shot over the fence by bow. It gets to be a never-ending job.”

Drumheller RCMP Staff Sgt. Arthur Hopkins says the methods employed to get drugs past security and into the hands of inmates are often surprising and the efforts near constant. “There are acts being performed by people coming into this facility that you would find absolutely disgusting. For instance, you have a mother coming to visit her husband and she’s carrying her six-month old . . . child and she’s got drugs hidden in the diaper.”

“They have the drugs concealed within their body. How far do you want to give the correctional services the authority to search those people? We have defence attorneys that are coming up and they’re testing positive on the ion scanner to say they’ve been close to cocaine in the last little bit.” Hopkins has also seen cases of contract workers threatened to bring in narcotics. “(Inmates) use intimidation on some of the people — the non-guards, the contractor workers, the plumbers — they have something on that plumber and are doing something to cause him to bring drugs into the facility. There are so many ways to smuggle drugs,” said Hopkins. (Postmedia News)

Drumheller spokesman, John Shannon said: “It’s not uncommon for staff to find cellphones, which are banned. “They (prisoners) use them to make drug deals. These people are connected out there.” (Edmonton Sun)

“Almost 80% of offenders arrive at federal institutions with some level of substance abuse problem, and many have multiple addictions. CSC works closely with local police agencies and communities to stop drugs from entering its institutions.” said Correctional Service of Canada spokeswoman Sara Parkes. Toronto Sun



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March 20, 2011 at 1:14 am

The Facts

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Fact: Summerland will have the largest prison in BC – in the smallest of BC’s prison towns.

Fact: Port Coquitlam, the smallest town on the following list of BC Correctional Centres, has a population of 58,000. Summerland has a population of 11,443.

Fact: The highest number of inmates in a BC prison is 500.

Fact: “The new prison will have 720 inmates” direct quote from Brent Merchant – Assistant Deputy Minister BC Corrections, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Corrections Branch at the Summerland meeting.

List of ALL BC provincial prisons:

There are four regional correctional centres for male sentenced offenders:
Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre in Saanich: Population: 108,265 Inmates: 370
Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre; Population: 87,000 Inmates: 300
Prince George Regional Correctional Centre; Population: 83,000 Inmates: 240
Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge Population: 75,000 Inmates: 500

Two centres are specifically for remanded individuals:
North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam: Population: 58,000 Inmates: 600
Surrey Pretrial Services Centre: Population 461,000 Inmates: 600

Fact: In reference to BC prisons: “Inmate population is just under 200 percent over-capacity.”said Dean Purdy – chairman of the Corrections and Sheriffs Services Branch of the BCGEU. Reference With Harpers Bill C-25 ‘Tough on Crime’ legislation and the revoking of the 2- for-1 time credit there will be even more overcrowding. See graph in post showing stats from a Federal Government peer reviewed report showing overcrowding statistics. Brent Merchant was one of the reviewers on that panel.


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March 13, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Millbrook Penitentiary – a blight on the landscape

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a social failure and a failed economy

Millbrook: a prison community from 1957-2003.

A friend of mine lives in Millbrook, Ontario, where there WAS a prison. Then Premier Mike Harris decided to close it and build a new facility, so the old facility just stands there, empty; a dismal failure; an expensive and sad derelict. I think that you’ll agree that it’s no enhancement to the area.

Failed system - prison

The text below is what my friend who was an art professor at the University of Toronto had to say about it:

Millbrook lost it’s maximum security jail some years ago, when Premier Harris wanted to – and did – streamline warehousing into two provincial super jails. This community was given the opportunity to apply as a ‘willing host’ and compete for the honors of a remand/maximum security penitentiary. It divided the community, those who wanted the growth and tourist traffic of visitors between the Ottawa River to the east and Hwy 400 to the west: It was privatized to boot. There were 1500 to 2000 inmates. 1500 inhabitants/citizens below in the valley.

Failure of the prison system

We, the artists were appalled on moral grounds, but we did the math and made a case against the venture on economic grounds and were the only group to be vehemently against it. The four congregations had no trouble with it.  We were branded as effete elitists who never worked a day in their lives. It got nasty. I happened to find out that this political apple was predetermined to be given to Lindsay, next door:  At least some 40,000 citizens to absorb them and benefit from the windfall.

  • it’s hated by the guards
  • lower inmate/guard ratio than before
  • no rehab
  • bad morale
  • just warehousing of the inmates
  • little or no economic gain for Lindsay

We are still blamed for having spoiled a marvelous opportunity for growth even though we were just token competitors: a ‘willing host community’ sounds like lemmings begging to take part in a bedbug experiment.

Is yours a fait accompli or do you still have chance to nix it?  ‘Remand’ is the worst!

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March 12, 2011 at 12:47 am