Inmates helping fight floods

All hands are on deck to fight flood waters in the South Okanagan, and that goes for the Okanagan Correctional Centre as well.

While the OCC is in no risk of flooding, inmates are filling sandbags on behalf of the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen. Those are then transported to sites between Summerland and the Osoyoos border crossing. 

Colin Hynes, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said inmates are currently filling about 250 sandbags per day.

Hynes noted equipment to automate the sandbagging will be delivered this week, which will drastically speed up the process.

"Once inmates are trained in the safe operation of this equipment, it’s expected they’ll be able to fill about 4,000 sandbags a day."

This is the first time inmates have assisted with flood mitigation, but Hynes said they've taken part in other community work in the area.

The OCC did weed eradication in the Town of Osoyoos last year at no cost to the town. They'll be providing that service to Osoyoos and Oliver this year.

Inmates also work to maintain trails, collect roadside garbage, conduct community clean up and other projects as requested.

Hynes said only "low-risk, open-custody inmates" are eligible to take part in community work projects that are done outside of the OCC. He added significant planning goes into placing an inmate in open custody.

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