Sunday, April 05, 2009

BC's new pre-trial centre: The very definition of NIMBYism

I've really only been following this story through Twitter updates from CNKW and CBCBC, but it seems to be the very definition of NIMBYism run amok.

The issue: The Lower Mainland needs a new pre-trial detention centre. The justice system and current infrastructure is strained. The priovincial government is trying to invest resources to alleviate that strain. Doing so would benefit the community: less delays before trial and more resources mean less need for plea-bargians and fewer cases thrown-out by judges because it took too long to bring to trial.

Everyone wants this to happen. Everyone wants action on crime, and more resources for the justice system. Part of that is a new pre-trial centre and everyone wants one built, and NOW. The only problem? They want it built in someone else's community.

Apparently they wanted to put it in Burnaby, but the community balked. Fine, said the government. Here's a list of 60 potential sites all over Metro Vancouver, they told the mayors. You guys decide amongst yourselves. Anyone surprised they haven't been able to?

One of the proposed locations is 520 E. Kent Ave., near the Fraser River in south Vancouver.

Members of that community successfully chased a Wal-Mart out of the area in 2005 — and they're vowing to make sure the jail doesn't land there either.

"It just shows that this place has, for so long, been used as a catch-all for everything nobody else wants," said Louise Seto, a member of the group that fought to keep big box stores out the neighbourhood.

"Look at the choices that we've been given. We haven't been given any positive choices for our community at all in terms of the use of our industrial land."

Another possibility is a piece of the Agricultural Land Reserve on Barnston Island in Surrey.

"It certainly shows a disdain for the ability for us to feed ourselves and to maintain agriculture and agricultural land in British Columbia," said Harold Steeves, a Richmond City councillor and the agriculture chair for Metro Vancouver.

"They're building highways through the farmland, they're putting ports on the farmland and now they're talking about putting prisons on the farmland."

The mayors have until Sept. 1 to decide where the 360-bed pretrial centre will end up.
Maybe they should just put it on the moon.

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