Prison Town,Lumby BC : UPDATE

First, I have to give a big shout out to the lovely people of Lumby, BC, who have sent emails of support and thanks in droves at the recent post on Lumby’s contentious bid for a prison. Clearly this is a community that cares about the future, however divided the direction is to get there.

Second: the village of Lumby has posted a letter from the mayor recently, to address some concerns brought to the mayors attention. This link is to that letter from Mayor Kevin Acton:

The village has also posted some videos to a corrections meeting , presumably in response to the videos linked to in my last post showing council members and the mayor in an unfavourable light, mocking people opposed to the prison prior to a council meeting.

New information has come forward from a provincial source who substantiates the real reason behind the push for Lumby’s prison by current mayor Kevin Acton is to get the Province of BC to cover the cost of  getting water, sewer and Hydro power out to the Lumby Industrial Park, and possibly other lands zoned industrial which are currently unserviced, at a cost of about $3.8 million. The village   claims they have inadequate finances to pay for such improvements themselves.

The source also states that the province would likely also cover the cost of rebuilding the village sewer treatment plant which regularly overflows and discharges septic wastewater into Bessette Creek.  The source also confirms that this prison bid concept originally began with former Lumby Mayor, now Liberal MLA, Eric Foster, and continued with Kevin Acton as councillor and now in his position as mayor.

Interesting enough is this letter to the editor of the Vernon Morningstar that Len Gudeit wrote supporting the prison. He does list the improvements that would come, the sewer etc… and a host of other short term spin-offs that might( and that is a big might) happen, but he fails to mention he owns a portion of the Lumby Industrial Lands – a large omission by any estimation, since  it could be argued that he would stand to benefit almost as much as the city if the prison built on his lands, which have been considered as one of the possible locations.

Originally there was really no other properties in consideration around Lumby for the prison other than the Lumby Industrial Park, however once a group of residents went on a fact-finding bit of research and started making waves about the real reason for the prison, the village changed the story so that the prison could be built on any 20 acre parcel inside the village and outside the ALR.

Also very interesting to note, is that other industrial properties  that have emerged as ” possible sites” where owners have expressed an interest are owned by the former mayor of Lumby and friend of MLA Eric Foster, Dave Simpson. A map of the ” jail lands ” can be viewed here: Lumby_correction_centre_map

I leave you with this notice sent to me today, and I hope all Lumby residents consider all the facts behind this push for a prison when they vote in that NON-BINDING referendum tomorrow. You know, the one where the mayor hasn’t even decided how many votes against the prison would be required before he backs off this deal? 

One thing I would like to remind the mayor and council is that if you deny the people democracy now, you can be sure they will take it back when municipal elections occur later this year.

 I predict Mayor Acton will be out of office and back to what he does best – massaging stressed and injuredLumby-ites -and there might be quite a few of both before this issue is over.

I’ll leave you with a letter from someone who is deeply concerned not only for the community,  but also the people who live there. His points are well researched, well thought out and factual, not hysterical. And to the people of Lumby and surrounding areas, I hope you vote smart, because this is a vote that could change your village, forever.

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 30th our community will decide if it wants to proceed with being home to a 700 inmate provincial jail.

 If we say “yes” we can expect 2-3 more years of backroom deal-making as big government charts a new course for Lumby’s future as a one-industry town – a prison town.

 If we vote “no” we can stop the jail from proceeding further and return to building a diversified economy based on our successes and local empowerment as described by one Vancouver journalist: “Lumby, from my understanding, has been doing well economically (growing at about 3% per year) and revenue increased 30% between 2006 and 2009.  This is actually quite impressive during a nationwide recessionary period for a town of this size. 

Instead of sticking to the facts, Lumby Village Council and pro-jail supporters have taken us on a nearly one year journey of bad press and misleading information.

 Fabrications presented in a recent flyer circulated by the pro-prison group LINE should be enough to get voters to the polls on Saturday to vote “No”.

·         The pro-jail group tells us that 400-500 jobs would be created by the jail in a community that could scarcely provide 50 workers in the construction trade because there simply is not a high enough unemployment rate in the Lumby area. They also claim that contracts will be put out to bid, but what they don’t say is that the companies capable of bidding on these large 3-P projects are multinationals like Plenary Justice, Brookfield and Bouygues/HSB. Bidders have to move through an eligibility process provided by Partnerships BC. Check out the “Pre Qualification Process” for bidding on a job like this:

This document describes clearly that the jail will be built and operated by a single company that specialized in prison construction and management.

·         The pro-jail group has neglected to tell us that BC Corrections publicly stated in Lumby that they cannot guarantee in any way they contractors will be hired locally. On the contrary, companies capable of winning the bid will more than likely bring much of their workforce with them from their previous job.

·         The pro-jail group is misleading the public when they say 60 percent of corrections staff will be experienced and that the balance of the jobs will be posted so that anyone can apply. BC Corrections made no commitment to either point, and in fact stated that they did not know what the hiring policy would be.

·         BC Corrections stated that they have a single “counseling contractor” for all the provincial jails and prisons, and that contractor may decide to hire locally or they may not. At the public information meeting in Lumby, BC Corrections made no guarantee to hire support staff and sub contractors locally – they couldn’t even define what “local” means to the ministry.

·         BC Corrections has made no guarantee that they will pay $1.1 million in grant-in-lieu of taxes – whatever amount they will pay will be decided behind closed doors after the referendum. The pro-jail group and the village staff compare the jail to having 1100 new homes. This comparison suggests that 700 in-mates would be the same as having 1100 new home owners in the village along with their families and children. The pro-jail group has deliberately misled the public by stating that the “grant monies” would be available to NORD Areas D and E in a deliberate attempt to buy support in the rural areas which are in no way eligible for tax money from a “Village tax jurisdiction”.

·         The pro-jail group has outlined enticements of where the jail grant money can be spent, like supporting programs and beautification and even building a pool – but no where do they state how much of that money is required to maintain the services and infrastructure for the jail itself. Clearly they are making the same mistake the village has made in recent years – using taxpayers money for things other than maintaining core infrastructure and services. This spending behaviour will cause extreme property tax instability that may result in local taxpayers supporting the jail facility because of shortfalls.

·         The pro-jail group state that the jail will bring new people to Lumby, but without clearly identifying that these new people will be inmates in a provincial jail and that some of these inmates will be high-risk re-offenders released into this community. According to BC Corrections the jail will release 50 inmates per day into Lumby, with another 50 inmates per day entering the jail.

·         BC Corrections has not secured building and site issues in writing or for the public record. All such details will be decided behind closed doors with the Lumby Mayor and Council. While they state the attributes of pleasant design, they have yet to tell the public where the jail will be located – it could be next door to your neighbourhood or business.

·         There is no public record of BC Corrections providing a healthcare contract that overlaps into the community.

·         BC Corrections are on public record as stating that they do not know how the jail will impact RCMP policing and ambulance services. The pro-jail group has provided misleading information regarding the costs of covering such services. The province determines the number of police that it will contribute funds towards, however if the community requires more police it has to pay for additional officers through the local tax base and then try to convince the province to contribute to those extra costs. If Lumby requires more police as a result of the jail, Area D and E along with the rest of NORD will have to contribute to those additional costs. Surrey pays $97 million a year for RCMP operating costs, one-third of the city’s budget. Check out the problems that BC Corrections hasn’t told us:

·         BC Corrections has not promised that there will not be half-way houses and parole offices in Lumby. In fact it’s questionable whether they have jurisdiction over such matters. If they were asked about “group homes” they certainly would not comment. What the pro-jail group should ask themselves is this: When there are 50 inmates a day released into Lumby and some of them have no money and no place to go – what would they do? Non-profits like Howard House would most certainly provide a group home in Lumby, perhaps a number of them so that these people would have shelter and be off the street.

·         The pro-jail group should also ask themselves what happens to the mentally challenged as they move through the court and jail system? The answer is that there will most likely be a demand for group homes. Check it out:

Most certainly, Lumby will have many new residents and visitors if there is a 700 inmate provincial jail located in this community – but they’re not exactly the ones that we have been seeking within our past community planning exercises.

There is so much missing and misleading information regarding the jail it’s staggering. I invite you to read some of the background to this event at:

YOUR VOTE COUNTS – Please help us stop the jail from being built here – our community is too small to absorb 700 inmates. We need you to vote “No” on Saturday and please convince your family and friends to do the same. Your vote counts whether you live in the Village or in rural Area D; the two communities are closely linked as are the costs of our local infrastructure.

On April 30th – If You’re in the Village or in Area D – Vote No to Incarceration in Lumby

The vote is held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the White Valley Community Centre.

Bring at least two pieces of I.D. perhaps a BC Hydro Bill or something that can prove your address.

If you need a ride to the polling station call 250-547-9464


7 thoughts on “Prison Town,Lumby BC : UPDATE

  1. A tip o’the tuque to you on this public service, Laila.

    This is a big story — like, this “Let me build you a prison” bait must be happening over and over in this country. Didn’t The Harper Government promote a huge expansion of prisons if only we’d vote them a majority government?


  2. Great information Laila
    I think we can take the Mayor’s reasons for the prison with a grain of salt:

    I provided Mayor Kevin Acton with information on a zero carbon footprint VSB system that can be installed on individual Industrial properties – VSBs eliminate the need to hook up to the Village sewer system. That information came with an offer from Dr.Ron Lavigne inventor of the Top Loading Vertical Vegetated Sand Bed waste water sysem to come to Lumby and help us with our sewage problems.

    Dr.Lavigne, President of New England Waste Systems, at no cost offered to assist Lumby refurbish/upgrade the sewage lagoon and create a green plan for waste water – use village employees to offset costs and train us to build VSBs to fix all kinds of pollution.

    I find it hard to believe that the Mayor wants to attract business to the industrial lands when he has not supported the ones we have here. I can get you the name of someone who phoned the Village Office a couple of weeks ago – about re-locating to Lumby. He was told – there were no incentives for bringing his business here. Hmmmm

    Lumby is paying some outside company to apply for a $350,000 grant to upgrade the sewage and water systems here in Lumby. There are Government grants for sewage and pollution clean up without having a prison here. And there are many ways to go green and many people offering to get things going.

    Do we need to have a prison before the Village expresses some interest in attracting industry to Lumby? Since there is so much unserviced – unused industrial land – why did this Mayor rezone more land into industrial land at his first council meeting after he was elected in 2009? Hmmmm

    If there was no sewage and water in the Industrial lands and the Village perceived that as a problem – why add to that problem by re-zoning more industrial land? Hmmmm!

    Where is the information that Village Council have been working on the road to Silver Star and the Community Forest? All I have heard is that they are waiting for more “Information”. That’s exactly what they said when we asked for the prison information they were looking into. Wating for information…

    If they put half as much effort into supporting local economic ventures instead of promoting a prison – well things would be changing in a positive direction right now. A lot of people agree – we need a new Mayor and Council.


    1. Thanks Mary, I do believe you are correct about Harper and his prison agenda!! Prisons, prisons everywhere and no restorative justice to be seen. An aside here… I see the vancouver sun is endorsing a Harper government today… lovely. If they get their way, it would be a BC liberal government with a Harper government. Does that mean they are against Christy Clark, since she is a federal Liberal ? : )

      Priscilla, I have a hard time with why the council and mayor aren’t really supporting or trying to expand and grow local business. Your ideas are good, as are many others I found on this document What I find interesting is that the actual statistics of employment / unemployment in Lumby don’t seem to match the sorry state of affairs Acton is trying to represent. And where is all the city money going? Anyone FOI’d the mayor and councils expenditures?

      Yes, I forsee a new mayor and council in the fall. And maybe a new MLA too if there is a provincial election!!

      I hate to say it, but I think this decision has already been made in the halls of Victoria and this referendum is nothing but window dressing to make it all look good. From the new letter posted on the Lumby website- read the wording carefully and it sounds like its a done deal.
      ” As the Village of Lumby elected offi cials, we have been totally transparent throughout this process. I know there are some
      frustrations surrounding questions that have been asked. However a lot of questions cannot be answered until we sit down and
      negotiate with the Province. No design or location has been picked. Actual costs and grants in lieu cannot be determined until a
      business plan is completed by the Province and negotiations with the Village are worked out.”

      You tell me now this referendum means a thing. I hope I am wrong but this looks to me of yet another project being steamrolled over a community ( much like the SFPR ) without a care in the world.

      As well, I wanted to post this comment that came in via my contact page:

      One fact that should be brought out is that the OKIB which managed to quash the prison site in Winfield (where they own an adjacent property) are also opposed to the Lumby jail proposal.The concept of having the remand centre on top of the new RCMP station in Kelowna makes good sense.For longer term sentenced prisoners there is an existing self contained BC Hydro Camp at Mica Creek which is hardly used.It has a huge kitchen, dormitories and grounds. It is like a self contained village, already available and belonging to a Crown corporation.There is only one road out and the surrounding terrain is mountainous. The inmates could work on silviculture projects in the area.Don Elzer has done great work on the Lumby Jumbo Jail issue. Thank you for your interest! ”

      I suggest someone heads out and talks to the band,maybe garner some public support there.



        Preliminary numbers are in, not final.

        Yes, 494

        No 381
        70% of eligible voters

        Since the mayor won with less than 400 votes, which works out to not a heck of alot of the eligible voters, if a good candidate comes forward with some progressive rather than lazy ideas in the next municipal election, Acton could kiss his job goodbye with a good turnout.

        This town is going to take a long time to heal, if ever. And people have long memories after being burned by so many politicians for so long.


Comments are closed.