Put us on the map.
That is the request Columbia Shuswap Regional District will make on behalf of two directors who have expressed an interest in being considered as a possible site for a new provincial jail.
Both Area E Rural Sicamous director Rhona Martin and Area D Falkland-Ranchero-Silver Creek director René Talbot are interested in the economic opportunities they say the correctional facility would bring to their communities.
Solicitor General Rich Coleman announced in December that the province had begun consultation with local governments in the Okanagan on a new 360-cell correctional facility.
Accompanying the press release was a map illustrating the government’s interest in communities located on Hwy 97, from Armstrong in the north to Penticton in the south.
Only a half-hour north of Enderby, Martin says Area E has become very depressed.
“It’s bad, it’s really bad,” she says, noting some members of the community didn’t even get enough seasonal employment last year to qualify for EI. “Having a correctional centre in the area would provide full-time employment, a reason to relocate, they would have good-paying jobs with some disposable income that would support other businesses.”
A clean industry, Martin says the proposed jail requires 20 acres of land and community support, something that seemed to be evident when the issue was discussed at a community meeting last year.
“Sicamous supported it too,” she says, pointing out the manufacturing houseboat workforce is much less than half of what it used to be. “One longtime (Kamloops) councillor said the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre has provided stable employment, filled schools, provided volunteers in the community, and the facility itself tends to spend as much as it can locally as well.”
Martin says a source in the solicitor general’s office said one of their considerations will be proximity to an airport.
“If we were considered, maybe we could get scheduled flights at either Salmon Arm or Revelstoke,” she says. “This could really benefit the whole region.”
Meanwhile, CSRD chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton says the regional district is simply asking the government to expand the map, given that electoral areas D and E abut the existing map.
“In terms of advisability, it’s too soon to tell,” said Hamilton. “We’re only saying don’t preclude those areas. But should they agree, that’s when the work is going to have to be done – detailed work on site and a fairly robust public process.”