Do Missionites want prisons expanded?

Editor, The Record:

The Conservative government plans on spending approximately $77.5 million to expand existing correctional facilities in the Fraser Valley. This is in keeping with Bill C-25, the Truth in Sentencing Act. This initiative and the accompanying injection of convicted criminals will undoubtedly impact our community in one way or another.

Details from The Mission Record in September and December 2010 indicated that 96 additional cells will be added to Mission Institution, and 50 will be added to Ferndale. The statistics from the articles indicate that Mission Institution was designed to hold 228 inmates, and currently holds around 274 due to some double-bunking. Ferndale can house up to 166 inmates presently.

Stockwell Day, the president of the Treasury Board, was at Mission Institution in September to announce the expansion. Mayor James Atebe spoke at the event thanking the government for the funding. He noted that it would help stimulate the local economy.

Perhaps the mayor and the Correctional Service of Canada should ask Mission residents whether we want to expand those facilities. The lack of public consultation is rather disturbing from my point of view; if there was any dialogue, I’m not aware of it.

Personally, I’m not thrilled about the prospect, and I don’t share the mayor’s enthusiasm. I can think of better ways to help stimulate the local economy. Both Ferndale and Mission Institutions are sitting on prime real estate with new subdivisions in close proximity. I was hoping these jails would eventually be phased out and the land put to better use.

A well-designed residential and retial project on the former prison grounds could most certainly stimulate the local economy, thereby compensating, in large part, for the loss in tax revenue.

Ask yourselves: Does Mission necessarily have to be a prison town, or is it possible that this part of the world could evolve into something else? Remember when New Westminster had the B.C. Pen? Look what’s there now. I’d take that any day.

Giles Corey

Mission