Prison referendum may be back on agenda

The Village of Lumby may hang up on a phone poll to determine public support for a prison.

Prison referendum may be back on agenda

The Village of Lumby may hang up on a phone poll to determine public support for a prison.

Council met with senior representatives from the Ministry of the Solicitor General Wednesday, and there is the possibility that the deadline to show interest in a correctional facility could be extended so the village can hold a referendum.

“We’re getting enough push-back from the community and we’re reconsidering the phone poll issue and looking at a referendum,” said Mayor Kevin Acton.

Acton has previously stated that there isn’t sufficient time to do a referendum because the provincial government wants to know by early April if the community wants to be considered for a facility, and that a telephone survey of residents was the most efficient way to determine public sentiment.

However, Acton now says that the ministry may be willing to let Lumby conduct a referendum in the spring.

“There’s a likelihood of that because we’d be going through a process to get public input. The minister wants to feel secure that people want it,” said Acton of a prison.

A group of residents opposed to a jail has demanded a referendum and it’s expected that council may make a decision at its regular meeting Monday.

Acton says ministry staff provided council with considerable information Wednesday and they provided assurances that the facility would create employment for local residents and not just existing correctional staff moved into the area.

“Before they would consider putting it here, they want to make sure there’s enough people to fill the jobs,” said Acton.

“We were told the government has no ties to the union in terms of hiring for correctional facilities. There’s no bumping process. There will be opportunities for locals.”

Acton continues to insist a correctional facility should be considered as a way of bolstering Lumby’s economy.

“I’ve talked to six mayors where there are facilities and they all said positive things,” he said.

“If one mayor raised concerns, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.”

Acton says he has asked the Ministry of Solicitor General representatives to take part in a public meeting so residents can ask questions directly of them.