Prison on meeting agenda

It will be a full house as a proposed prison continues to dominate debate in Lumby.

Representatives from the Ministry of Public Safety will be at a town hall meeting at Charles Bloom Secondary School today at 7 p.m.

“I’m hoping for a good, civilized crowd with good questions and good answers from  the ministry,” said Mayor Kevin Acton.

Acton admits there is some uncertainty with the tone of the meeting and the expectation of a large crowd.

“It’s a highly charged issue with feelings on both sides of the fence,” he said.

“I hope people will come and listen and be polite.”

Acton denies the meeting is an attempt to sway voters before the April 30 referendum on a correctional facility.

“It (meeting) is critical because it will give Lumby an opportunity to find out what the province is offering,” he said.

“It gives people information so they are comfortable one way or the other.”

Both sides of the issue will be present in the CBSS gymnasium.

“We are anticipating a real strong showing from people opposed to a prison,” said Paul Fisher, with Lumby Concerned Citizens, an anti-prison group.

Fisher believes there will be a pro-prison focus to the meeting.

“It will be a sales job but it’s important to make our presence known. The reason for going to the meeting is to ask questions,” he said.

A group of citizens in favour of pursuing a jail is urging all Lumby residents to attend the meeting.

“We’re definitely hoping there will be a really good turnout no matter what side they are on,” said Tracie Gobelle, spokesperson.

“We hope  everyone will listen and be respectful. A lot of people say their concerns haven’t been answered and we hope that will happen.”

Representing the Ministry of Public Safety at today’s town hall meeting will be Brent Merchant, assistant deputy minister, and Ted Howard, with the corrections branch.

In December, the ministry asked all Okanagan communities to consult with their residents about possibly hosting a new 360-cell correctional facility by 2015.