Rural directors urge public say on prison

The North Okanagan’s rural politicians back a prison in Lumby, but only if residents want it.

The North Okanagan’s rural politicians back a prison in Lumby, but only if residents want it.

The Electoral Area Advisory Committee discussed potential sites for an Okanagan correctional facility Thursday.

“We decided that the Village of Lumby would be a preferable site subject to endorsement of the electorate there,” said Rick Fairbairn, chairperson.

Eugene Foisy, Cherryville director, insists that a prison cannot be forced on to residents of any community.

“It’s up to the electorate of Lumby and area to decide if they want it,” he said.

“You need to have the backing of the people because that’s who will have to live with it.”

The Ministry of the Solicitor General had asked the North Okanagan Regional District to consider possible sites within its jurisdiction for a facility, but there is no interest among the directors to do so.

“The electoral areas don’t qualify because a facility would need services like water and sewer and we don’t have them,” said Fairbairn.

It’s anticipated on Monday that Lumby council will decide to hold a referendum or a telephone survey to determine public opinion on a jail.

As rural Lumby director, Fairbairn says he will likely follow the village’s lead and initiate an input process for his constituents.

“From rural Lumby’s standpoint, I’ve made a commitment to those for and against that we will have some form of poll and then submit their views to the village for consideration,” he said.

Fairbairn had been leaning towards a telephone poll but he says a referendum in rural Lumby is a possibility.

“A referendum is expensive and whether it warrants a referendum is to be determined,” he said.