Posted on 18 April 2012 by admin
There’s no question the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) board of directors has a very difficult decision to make in the coming weeks when it votes on whether or not to grant a rezoning application to the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) regarding its wish to open a halfway house in Osoyoos.
Stan Kelliher, the closest neighbour to the proposed halfway house, which would be located on the Spirit Ridge development and close to the Nk’ Mip Cellars outlet, said he and several neighbours have many concerns about the proposed location.
Kelliher and several neighbours voiced their concerns about the halfway house during a public hearing last week at the Sonora Centre.
While the retired Osoyoos school teacher insists he’s heavily in favour of giving people a second chance and the concept of halfway houses for offenders who are attempting to rehabilitate themselves while trying to become contributing members of society following lengthy jail sentences, Kelliher insists the quality of life for his family and neighbours will be adversely affected forever.
He’s never had to lock his doors since he built his home several years ago and that will change once the halfway house opens, says Kelliher.
The best solution is to find a better location for this halfway house, he insists.
OIB Chief Clarence Louie said he realizes neighbours are going to have strong feelings about this project and there’s nothing he can say to alter those opinions.
However, Louie says there are hundreds of halfway houses located throughout British Columbia and across Canada and most people don’t realize they even exist because there are so few problems. Kelliher disagrees with Louie and Corrections Canada staff, suggesting all it takes is for one offender living at the halfway house to have a bad day and the impact on his family could be serious. Mark Pendergraft, vice-chair of the RDOS board and representative for Area A (Osoyoos), says this issue is a very difficult one as he respects the concerns and opinions of Kelliher and his neighbours, while acknowledging Louie is trying his best to help First Nations offenders find work and attempt to turn their lives around.If the RDOS board rejects the zoning application by the OIB, there’s a very good chance the band will proceed with the halfway house project anyway, as Pendergraft rightfully points out.
This is a very complex issue for this community and the RDOS board has its work cut out before coming to a final decision in the coming weeks.