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Many jobs that will be created by new jail are very badly needed
No matter what the subject matter, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
That is no doubt the case when it comes to the construction and operation of the new South Okanagan Correctional Centre, which is scheduled to begin construction next April or May in the Senkulmen Industrial Park, located about eight kilometres north of the Town of Oliver.
More than 150 people packed into Oliver Community Centre last Wednesday as several high-ranking officials from BC Corrections and Partnerships BC – a division of the government formed to manage and plan major capital projects across the province – detailed the timelines to build the jail and how people will be hired to work inside the facility once it opens.
Because the jail will be located so close to the Town of Oliver, the residents who live in or near that community held very strong opinions – both for and against – this project.
A night later in Osoyoos, a relatively quiet crowd of 45 local residents showed up at the Sonora Community Centre to listen to the same officials make a similar presentation.
The ministry officials did their best to provide pertinent information about this $260-million project and answer questions about such key issues as jobs, community safety and economic impact.
Those same officials made it very clear that the nine other provincial correctional institutes for adults in this province have blended into their respective communities with very little problems.
Because correctional institutes do house adults with criminal records, local residents have every right to want assurances that their communities will remain safe.
But as BC Corrections officials pointed out, provincial jails only house those who are sentenced to periods of incarceration of two years less a day.
What many people probably didn’t know is the average length of stay for prisoners in the provincial correctional system is less than five weeks.
On a more positive note, there can be no argument that the economic development opportunities that will be created by this new jail are going to be immense and will last for decades to come.
It has been estimated that up to 1,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created during the construction phase over the next three years.
The provincial officials made it clear a large majority of those jobs will be given to tradespeople and contractors from across this region.
Once the jail is open for business, close to 300 high-paying, permanent jobs – most of which will be correctional officers and management – will be created.
These are jobs that will be around for generations to come.
It will mean those workers will be buying houses in this area, other large-ticket items in local businesses and their children will be attending school in Oliver and Osoyoos.
We applaud the ministry for taking the time to make these presentations to local citizens and answering all of the questions these same people want answers to.
The South Okanagan, including the towns of Oliver and Osoyoos, desperately need the jobs that will soon be coming because of this project.
It’s a project most local residents have embraced and rightfully so. There is no other project on the horizon that will provide anywhere close to this kind of economic opportunity and benefit for this region.