Group makes pitch for prison

Efforts are underway to promote the reasons why Lumby should consider a correctional facility.

A group of residents that favour a prison has mailed out pamphlets to properties in  the village and the surrounding area.

“Everyone needs to have the information,” said Tracie Gobelle, spokesperson for the group.

“We’re really focused on trying to inform people. We want people to make an informed and accurate decision based on relevant information.”

The group is also encouraging the public to attend a Village of Lumby meeting March 23 that will feature Ministry of the Solicitor General staff.

“People need to ask questions so they know we’re not colouring the information,” said Gobelle.

Gobelle says it is time for her group to become more visible because those opposed to a prison have been getting media attention.

“There is a misconception that they are a majority,” she said.

“There is a silent majority who believe this makes economic sense for the community.”

Gobelle has lived in Lumby for 43 years and she says he’s concerned about the future of the community because of a lack of employment opportunities.

“Lumby has suffered for the last couple of decades. I’d like my sons to have good paying jobs here,” she said.

According to Gobelle, a correctional facility would have an annual payroll of $17 million, and she disputes claims that local residents won’t get the jobs.

“If you think Lumby people won’t be hired because they are union jobs, we wouldn’t have school district jobs here. Those are union jobs,” she said.

She also suggests that some people will move into Lumby for jobs and they will purchase homes and support local shops.

“Even if it doesn’t create new business, it will be great if the ones here could flourish.”

She also believes that an annual grant-in-lieu of property taxes from the provincial government would allow the village to proceed with infrastructure upgrades, such as sewer or the swimming pool.

Some residents have expressed concern that a prison will negatively impact Lumby’s social scene and lead to increased crime. For Gobelle, those are non-issues.

“We have talked to other communities where there are facilities. We’ve talked to mayors and we’ve talked to guards,” she said, adding that there is no relation between having a jail and crime rates.

“If you are getting your information from the States, that is a far different penal system than ours.”

During a recent tour of Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, some members of the group spoke to staff and principals at a nearby school.

“There are no concerns about safety and security for their children,” said Gobelle.