by Dave Preston
The provincial government can cross Peachland off the list of possible locations for a new prison.
Solicitor General Rich Coleman sent a letter to the mayors across the Okanagan in December asking for assistance is finding a location for a future prison. Tuesday was the first meeting Peachland council held after receiving the letter.
“I see some benefits,” said Coun. Peter Schierbeck, who pitched the idea of a prison at the old Brenda Mine site.
“We could spruce up that area and bring economic benefit to our community,” said Schierbeck.
Mayor Keith Fielding said he had a meeting with former mayor and former Brenda Mine manager Gordon Harris.
“He came up with several reasons why it would come with excessive cost,” said Fielding.
There is insufficient road access to Brenda Mine, no drinking water and no sewer system, said fielding. He added the site averages 10 degrees cooler than at the valley bottom, necessitating higher heating costs.
“The broader question is whether we want to be associated with a penal facility,” said Fielding. “It becomes part of our identity.”
“These are well paid people,” countered Schierbeck. “It could be quite a benefit to us.”
Coun. Terry Condon said he has doubts about the Brenda mine site or any other site around Peachland.
In jest, Coun. Vern Moberg suggested council could kill two birds with one stone by buying up the McDougald Road gravel pit properties and offering them to the province as a suitable prison site.
Coleman listed several criteria for a future prison site, including:
- Buildable area of 20 acres (eight hectares);
- Serviced, including electricity, gas, water and sewer;
- Minimal negative environmental conditions;
- Minimal probability of a First Nations claim to aboriginal title;
- Not in the ALR.
Council agreed to send a letter to Coleman, explaining that Peachland does not have appropriate land that meets the criteria.