A steady stream of people enter the White Valley Community Centre  to vote in Saturday's referendum on a proposed prison in Lumby.

A steady stream of people enter the White Valley Community Centre to vote in Saturday's referendum on a proposed prison in Lumby.

Lumby council faces challenge after prison referendum

Divisions over a proposed prison remain evident in Lumby.

During Saturday’s referendum, voters opposing a provincial correctional centre outnumbered those in favour by about 200 votes.

“It’s going to be very challenging,” said Coun. Janet Green of the decision facing council based on the non-binding opinion poll.

“We will have to carefully assess the results and each individual council member will have to make a decision.”

Of the 875 Village of Lumby residents who voted, preliminary results show 494 (56 per cent) said yes, while 381 (44 per  cent) said no.

In adjacent Area D of the North Okanagan Regional District, 374 (34 per cent) voted yes while 727 (66 per cent) voted no.

It’s expected council will consider its next step during its regular meeting Monday.

“I would tend to think we will have a decision Monday,” said Green, who doesn’t want any further delays in the process because of the rift the issue has created among residents.

“It’s time to make a decision. I’m prepared to think about what I will do.”

Members of Lumby Concerned Citizens, which opposes a prison, believe a clear message has been sent to council.

“The mayor has said that Area D would be taken into account,” said Randy Rauck, spokesperson.

Area D residents live outside of the village boundaries but they are considered part of the community at large.

“If they (council) do the right thing, they will say the valley is not interested in a prison. The valley has voted no,” said Rauck.

“The mayor did not get an overwhelming yes majority.

About  70 per cent of the village’s eligible voters took part in the  referendum, while the rate was about 52 per cent in Area D.

“What was very significant was the voter turnout,” said Green.

The provincial government is currently seeking a location in the Okanagan for a minimum security 360-cell facility. Penticton and Summerland have shown interest in the prison.

Look for more details in Wednesday’s Morning Star.