What a difference a night makes. Prior to going to bed last night, the initial media reports indicated the referendum results where favourable for a prison in Lumby.
However, those early reports from the Kelowna paper were misleading, because they did not include the Area D results, which significantly swayed the outcome. Here are the final results.
Lumby voters were asked: ” Do you support pursuing the development of a Provincial Correctional Facility within the village of Lumby ? “
Final Lumby Prison Referendum Results
Yes – for the prison – 374 / 34%
No – against the prison – 727 / 66%
Total votes cast: 1101
Village of Lumby
Yes – for the prison – 494 / 56%
No – against the prison – 381 / 44%
Total votes cast: 875
Yes – for the prison – 868 / 44%
No – against the prison – 1108 / 56%
Total votes cast: 1976
The results clearly leave Mayor Acton and the council in a position of difficulty, since the village residents and Area D residents ( surrounding area) are very divided on this issue. Even within the village however, the vote was quite close, indicating a fair amount of negative response among those residents as well.
When the idea of a referendum arose, mayor Acton initially did not want to include Area D residents, but quickly changed his mind after seeing and hearing the resulting anger from those citizens. Area D residents live outside of the village boundaries but are considered part of the community as a whole.
Mayor Acton has said several times since the referendum was announced that he would listen to Area D residents and take their stance into account, and those residents have now spoken clearly that a prison is not welcome in Lumby.
Should mayor Acton and council decide to move forward with the prison, they send the clear message to residents opposed, that the many valid and factual concerns they presented to council have been discounted. News articles in local papers have not done justice to the hard work and realistic alternatives presented to the mayor and council by local residents who have presented a compelling position against building such a large facility in a miniscule village. ( scroll down to see two previous posts to this for background and links)
Priscilla Judd and Don Elzer in particular, both have spent innumerable hours over the past year, documenting and researching both the process the village has taken to get to this point, and finding fiscal alternatives to sustain and promote economic development that come from an educated and experienced point of view. I commend them, and the others who have assisted along the way, as outstanding stewards of the community at large, and visionaries who I feel would be better suited to guide this community though the future, than the single minded mayor and council without a vision beyond the grants in lieu a prison would bring.
The city does not seem at all interested in pursuing any other fiscal avenue than the prison. And considering Mayor Acton and the current MLA Eric Foster, have been pursing the prison idea for two years prior to this referendum, the question of whether the people want the village to pursue a prison or not is mute. They have been doing so all along without any public input at all.
On the eve of the federal election where conditions seem ripe for a dramatic change in the leadership of our country, Lumby residents face the possibility of a dramatic change in their future as well, on a personal level and as a community. I will be following this story, as my freedom of information requests are handled by the village officials in Lumby, and I look further into the finances of the village. My interest is keen, since what is happening in Lumby, could happen anywhere – the city of Burnaby is a good example. I live in a neighbourhood down from the Surrey Pre-trial centre, and we have become so accustomed to petty crimes like vehicle break-ins that most go unreported now. There is not a vehicle on the street here that has not been broken into at least once – many several times – as addicts and thieves who are released look for change and small items that can be sold for quick cash to buy cigarettes, a drink or simply get out of the neighbourhood via cab or bus. Garages here are easy pickings, even when locked. There are always unintended consequences of corrections facilities, and while we are a large community, Lumby has but the population of a few of our city blocks.
I leave you with this open letter to the Mayor and Council, a letter that needs to be read by all. I urge Mayor Acton to look beyond the easy lure of grants and short term jobs to solutions that are more amiable to a tiny community than the prison. The facts and research prove that the long term consequences of placing a corrections facility in a small, rural community are harmful and nearly impossible to overcome.
An open letter to Mayor and Council.
Since the overall vote result from Lumby and Area D combined is 56% NO, I believe it’s time to work constructively towards a future the community will welcome. To do this, council needs to give the population the tools needed to now go forward with constructive plans for our future. I suggest we start by having council call a public meeting to present:
1. Budget vs Actual for the last 5 years
2. Financial projection for the next 5 years – this must include all projected expenses for all infrastructure costs according to at least 3 different growth scenarios
3. Included in #2 of course, will be the impact on taxes since this is a large part of the revenues.
Many of us have presented council with ideas during public meetings yet none of these ideas were ever brought forward. It is now time to do so, but can’t be done without full disclosure of financial information. We need to understand what the major projected costs are before we can plan. It has been impossible to understand up to now since at one time we were told we needed money for fixing up sewage and waste disposal then were told we did not. Please help us all go forward now by starting where we should have begun in the first place: a transparent presentation of our past and projected finances.
I don’t see such a meeting as requiring much preparation since surely these are figures you must already have. I therefore hope you will call this meeting within the next few weeks so we can all look at the choices facing us together and give clear indications to the economic committee. But please don’t make it tomorrow night – let’s wait till after the federal election results!
With hope for a constructive first meeting,
130 Shuswap River Road,
( Hugette was a candidate for MP and MLA for the Green party in the past elections and is a strong community member)