A Prison in Summerland, BC? No: Oliver.

Correctional facility approved for Oliver, BC

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Questions for Summerland Meeting

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Issue of prison in Summerland BC

The following questions were prepared for a flyer that members of our group handed out at the Summerland meeting on March 7, 2011. The meeting was attended by representatives from BC Corrections, (Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General’s office) Summerland town council, and the people of Summerland.  Pdf version of the pamphlet.

The economic benefits of a prison can be reduced by towns having to finance infrastructure improvements, particularly, water and wastewater treatment plants. Q. One of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General criteria was that the prison site must be serviced, including electricity, gas, water and sewer. Who pays for this?

The Province pays grants in lieu of taxes to municipalities in amounts ranging from $0.5 million to $1.5 million for correctional centres. Council has been informed that costs of additional policing will be picked up by the town. Q. If we are given the lower amount ($0.5) what are we left with at the end? (If we had to add two officers this would cost us an additional $200,000 per year.)

“With some of the criteria that were set out, we just don’t qualify.”  Councillor Bruce Halquist. Q. How has that criteria changed that we now qualify?

Q. Where is the water going to come from and how will the water useage impact our water supply?

Q. How is a prison preferable to creating a sustainable agricultural (or tourism) future that would add value to our industry base?

Q. What economic modelling has been done to estimate the amount of any local benefit and where will such benefits come from?  And what proportion of these benefits will go to local people and businesses?

BCGEU members have a ten point lead by virtue of being in the union, regarding jobs.  Q. Why should Summerland residents expect job benefits e.g. as Correctional Officers (CO’s) if they bring in union members from elsewhere?

Union Corrections Officers make between $47,000 –$70,000 depending on seniority. What is the outcome if a family moved to Summerland but only one spouse was employable and their income is then split between two? Q. What opportunities would there be for the spouses of CO’s?

Research shows that few prison staff choose to reside in the prison town thus reducing positive impact on the local economy.  As well, local residents may be ineligible for employment due to union requirements or lack of necessary skills (e.g. construction). Q. If it ends up that there are few job or tax benefits, what then would be the benefits?

Stats Canada (Juristat) states that persons on remand are generally considered high risk and are usually held in maximum security settings. Correctional Service Canada also states that provincial jails and detention/remand centres are considered to be maximum security for the purposes of scoring the CRS. (Custody Rating Scale) Q. If a remand centre is always maximum security, why was this not clearly stated in the official government proposal?

In the official fact sheet, in answer to the question; “How many inmates will be at this facility?” it states there would be “360 cells in 10 living units”  Q. This implies one inmate per unit. Is this correct?

The fact sheet (gov) states: “The new centre will be a secure custody centre, accommodating remanded individuals awaiting trial and those sentenced to fewer than two years. As such, they will represent a wide range of offense types.”  Q. Regarding the ‘wide range of offense types’ does this mean that the new facility will be hosting murderers? Pedophiles? Rapists?

Less than 50% of provincial institutions have inmates serving 2 years less a day for petty crimes so on average over 50% are in remand awaiting trial. Attorney General Wally Oppal: “Maximum [security] remand centres have a habit for being a breeding ground for further gang activity.” Q. How does the high percentage of remand inmates and the gang element affect prison security?

Overcrowding is the biggest problem facing prisons in Canada (Solicitor General’s office reports they are already operating above 200% of capacity). Now 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. Q. Is there any guarantee that the facility won’t be exanding or changing its status from a provincial remand center to a federal maximum security prison in the future?

Q. How do we deal with gang members coming to town to visit inmate friends, i.e. Hell’s Angels and other BC gangs who are a large contributor to violence in the province?

Tim Veresh head of the John Howard Society of B.C (non-profit halfway houses): “Family members of inmates often move to a community close to the prison so that it’s easier for them to visit. The family lays down roots, the kids are going to school there, which makes it a natural place for a prisoner to settle once they get out.”  Q. How will the town deal with social housing issues considering a percentage of inmate families will likely move here?

Research indicates that prison towns experienced less growth than non-prison towns except that prison towns had a greater increase in unemployment, poverty, and percentage of minorities. Q. What guarantees are there, considering the contrary evidence, that this is a positive move for Summerland?

Once the town changes the zoning to institutional, it will always be institutional. And once it’s a prison town it will always be a prison town. Q. On what basis does Council feel it’s justified to potentially lose tourism benefits for Summerland, due to the presence of the prison?

Q. With employees, suppliers, inmates, police, lawyers, relatives and friends of inmates, how will these hundreds of vehicles travelling to and from the prison everday, affect local traffic?

Summerland’s waste disposal contract was this week awarded to BFI, a New York company (part of The Blackstone Group). It is the second largest in waste management in North America.  Q. Considering the waste management contract, why should we expect the jobs to be kept in the community? Will local suppliers and builders be guaranteed contracts or will these also go out to open tender as did the waste contract? (March 31: A CORRECTION RE THIS INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND HERE)

April 1st has been the stated deadline for submission of town proposals. Q. Will there be any extensions considering the lack of information available for us to make an informed decision?

Q. How will the prison affect real estate? For example, if it were approved to be at the municipal site (Bentley Pit) at the base of Rattlesnake Mountain, how would this impact the value of this newly-approved real estate development?

Written by summerlandbc

March 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm