Since the subject of a potential federal prison near Kimberley was floated at the RDEK Board meeting a couple of weeks ago, there has been much discussion in the community on the merits of the idea.
However, Mayor Ron McRae is emphatic that a prison is not something the City is endorsing, nor does he feel it is a good fit with City objectives.
“There seems to some confusion out there with respect to where the City of Kimberley stands regarding a penal institution within or outside the City limits, especially given the idea was floated by a member of Kimberley City Council,” McRae said.
That member of Council was Don McCormick, who is from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, which has three prisons: the Prince Albert Correctional Centre, Pine Grove Correctional Centre and the Saskatchewan Federal Penitentiary.
“It should be made abundantly clear that the City of Kimberley is neither condoning nor involved in the discussions concerning a federal maximum security penal institution or any other type of federal penal institution,” McRae said. “As recently reported, the discussions with the RDEK about developing a penal institution have nothing to do with your Municipality, its staff and team, or official Mayor and Council business. The current administration does not recognize it as an initiative, let alone a recommendation or consideration.”
The Mayor says the City is intent on developing opportunities that are a good fit for the community and its future.
“The City continues to increase economic diversity, development, sustainability and employment. We are not a community that will desperately capitulate to any type of business development or consideration. Our children and working people deserve businesses that provide for our community’s sustainability and future, and that fit with our values, culture and lifestyle.
The results of last year’s community engagement do not indicate that a penal institution would be a good a fit for the community and future objectives. Your City has invested heavily in developing the Kimberley story to better position us for present and future opportunities. What we need now is a coming together around the new communication tools and strategies recently developed as key parts of the City’s plans to attract and diversify our economic landscape, not a pulling apart around such a potentially divisive issue as a maximum security penal institution. The community and Municipality are committed to attracting new businesses, more residents and more visitors. A penal institution is not a part of the City’s strategic considerations.
“In the meantime there’s plenty to be excited about in Kimberley. There are new businesses, new attitudes, and new energy within the community. We’re one of the Kootenay’s fastest growing communities. People are moving and living here intentionally, attracted to Kimberley because of its inherent nature, culture and qualities; not because of its potential for a penal institution.
“As we continue to increase our presence in target markets along with targeted messaging, we’re extremely positive about future opportunities.
“As Kimberley residents already know, we are an extremely attractive destination, and a great place to live. There are many businesses and industries that are non-geographic or location dependent. For businesses looking to ensure that its employees and partners have a secure, enviable lifestyle, Kimberley is a good place to be and we’re looking to increasingly demonstrate that. Now is not the time to be expending energy and capacity on discussions of possible penal institutions. Now is the time to be sharing Kimberley’s existing culture and opportunities with businesses and industries that are a good fit for our community’s future.”