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: http://www.lumby.ca/doc/mayor_referendum_letter.pdf
The village has also posted some videos to a corrections meeting http://www.lumby.ca/correctioncentre/index.html , 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: http://heretohelp.bc.ca/stories/criminal-justice/exp/3
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