Mayor Mitch Campsall says he and the District of 100 Mile House council are working with Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett to actively investigate the potential for building a new correctional facility in the area.
At this point, he adds, the project is only in the investigative stages between the district and the provincial government.
“This is not saying we are going to build a facility. Before a prison would ever come to the community, it would go to lots of public consultation.”
The Ministry of Attorney-General has been contacted and indicated the prison needs to be located in the Okanagan, he notes.
Campsall says council is offering a possible back-up plan to the province in the hope it will be considered for placement in the 100 Mile area if the project isn’t approved in the Okanagan.
One community considered by the province is the Village of Lumby, where some residents strongly opposed to the idea voiced their concerns at a public consultation in March.
Campsall acknowledges there are pros and cons to having a correctional facility within the “greater 100 Mile House community,” and the mayor says he expects there would also be some opposition here.
Although the prison is intended to serve the Okanagan area, Campsall says he feels that it could still work with a facility located in the South Cariboo.
“We’re close to the Okanagan, so we’d have no problems considering it for sure.
“We’ll always offer an option of a plan B and our MLA is also at the table with us, and is pursuing this as well.”
Campsall stresses his key message to the community is that a prison will never go forward in the area without “a huge amount” of community input.
Now that their point has been made to the ministry, he says council will wait to hear the results of the plans in the Okanagan, and continue to follow up through Barnett.
“At this time, our cards are on the table, so if they ever need to consider a prison in this area, we are there.”