Residents head into the White Valley Community Centre to vote in the prison referendum Saturday in Lumby.

Residents head into the White Valley Community Centre to vote in the prison referendum Saturday in Lumby.

Prison process proceeds

Lumby will lobby for a prison, but there are no guarantees that such a facility will materialize.

Council voted 4-1 Monday to pursue development of a correctional facility, but Mayor Kevin Acton admits a number of stumbling blocks exist.

“If we sit down with the province and the negotiations are not what we’re looking for, we will be the first to back out,” he said.

There is also the fact that Summerland and Penticton are interested in a jail.

“We may not even get a crack at it,” said Acton.

During Saturday’s referendum, 56 per cent of those who voted in the village said yes to a prison while 44 per cent said no.

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

MLA Eric Foster believes the sharp division could factor in the government’s ultimate decision as to where a facility goes.

“The difference of opinion between the village and the surrounding  area will be part of the discussion,” he said.

Acton defends the pursuit of a prison.

“To have 56 per cent support is a clear indication of where the village wants to go,” he said, adding that the results from Area D were not ignored.

“I really did consider their vote. But I kept coming back to the people that voted for me and that’s the people of the Village of Lumby.”

Coun. Tracy Williamson opposed moving ahead Monday.

“I came by this decision because of the people and families surrounding me and their strong no vote,” she said.

“I’m representing the 44 per cent who voted no.  Families are threatening to move out of the community if this (prison) comes. If they take school-aged children away, I worry about the trickle effect on the community.”

Rick Fairbairn, Area D director, isn’t surprised by council’s decision.

“Council has an obligation to listen to their voters. Village residents voted them into office, not electoral area voters,” said Fairbairn.

However, council is being slammed by those opposed to a prison.

“The mayor said the community includes Area D and there was a clear no vote on this deal,” said Randy Rauck, with Lumby Concerned Citizens.

Rauck wants the province to determine a site soon.

“I don’t suspect the prison will come to Lumby. There is a lot of competition from Penticton and Summerland,” he said.

“They have good locations but they also didn’t have the debate.”

Doug Brown, part of a group that campaigned for a prison, welcomes council’s actions.

“They are doing the right thing. That’s what the people of the village wanted,” he said.

“Only 52 per cent of the eligible voters outside of Lumby voted. Yes 66 per cent of those who voted in Area D were opposed but they only represented 34 per cent of voters.”

About  70 per cent of the village’s eligible voters took part in the  referendum.