The Solicitor General said no, but that’s not stopping some Kelowna representatives from pushing for a jail to be built locally.
“The chamber sent a letter to the Solicitor General, saying we support the city’s site selection,” said Weldon LeBlanc, CEO of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.
Last year’s chamber president Wes Shields said the organization supported the idea throughout his tenure, and would like to see the province revisit the issue.
“From an economic perspective, it would bring construction, high paying jobs and we were in support of that,” he said.
The benefits aren’t lost on the business community, and at a meeting aimed at educating chamber members on the economic lay of the land, city manager Ron Matuissi was asked whether the city was looking at alternate sites, instead of letting the opportunity pass by.
“The short answer is no,” Mattiussi said. “We’re not actively engaged in looking for a new site. We’ll work with (the province), but we’re not entering a lottery.”
Penticton and Lumby on the other hand are both vying for the prison, and neither community has identified a site, let alone zoned one.
It means they’ve only started to wade into the sea of public dissent that Kelowna dealt with in 1996, which Matuissi said is “quite frankly ridiculous.”
Only those sentenced to two years less a day, and under, would be at the institution and there’s little evidence that it brings in a negative element, he explained.
“It’s sad that no matter where it goes that this is the issue,” he said.
Ultimately, he added, the province can put the facility wherever it wants, regardless of municipal opposition or support.
To that end, Mattiussi said he would like to see the jail put in the “best location for B.C. tax payers.”