Letter to the Editor: A prison near Kimberley?

Several reasons why a federal penitentiary is not a good idea for this region.

Bryan Hunt/Kimberley

I am writing this letter in response to the article “A federal prison near Kimberley?”

I worked for the Correctional Service of Canada as a Correctional Officer for almost eight years in the Fraser Valley and have recently moved back to Kimberley to raise my young family here. Years ago, I may have been an advocate for this proposal, but not now. I am glad I left the CSC life and I am not looking back. I love the Kootenay region for its pristine nature and we do not need the stigma of having a prison here.

No, you will not see inmates sipping coffee at the local coffee shop, but something to consider is you would see an influx of inmates’ families move to the area to be close to their less than desirable boyfriends and husbands. In larger centers like Prince Albert, Abbotsford or Chilliwack you may not notice, but you would most certainly notice in a small town like Kimberley with fewer than 7,000 people.

Another thing to consider is that once the prison is built it would not be immediately staffed by local people. The Correctional Service of Canada is a Federal Government Agency. The positions would be first offered to Correctional staff from across Canada on a seniority basis before any new recruits would be trained to fill vacancies. This would do nothing for local families.

The only immediate work would go to contractors in building the prison, and that’s only if local contractors are tendered the contracts from the federal government to build it.

There are in fact eight federal institutions in the Fraser Valley and one in Victoria, not two in B.C. like the article suggests.

We don’t need to model our society like the Americans where the correctional system is an “industry” and prisons are built just to keep small-town America alive. The RDEK can use a little more ingenuity than that.

I may be mistaken, but it is also my understanding that the CSC has been sitting on a plot of land outside of Kelowna for the past 20 years. If this is the case, and the interior of B.C needs a federal prison, let them build it there. A federal prison may provide a pay cheque from the government, but it would not produce anything of tangible quality.

If we want to create local jobs, we need to create or develop something from within this area; something that would be tangible, of quality and would give back to the communities of the RDEK. We are living in an era of unlimited potential and the sky’s the limit with what we can do, we just need to use a little imagination. Trust me, we don’t need a prison here.