An access road to the proposed correctional centre in the South Okanagan has been given a recent go ahead by the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen board.
The road will run from the prison straight down to Tuc El Nuit Road, opposite Campsite Road.
Currently, Senkulmen Business Park where the Okanagan Correctional Centre will be built is accessed off Highway 97.
“Second roads are often needed for any kind of subdivision or industrial park," said Allan Patton, RDOS director for Electoral Area C. “So you always have an emergency exit or alternative route.”
The matter came before the board, after BC Parks referred a proposal from Shared Service BC seeking to adjust the boundaries of Inkaneep Provincial Park for the purposes of creating a secondary access route to the business park located on the Osoyoos Indian Reserve .
The northern part of the park would be expanded to make up for the area where the road goes in.
The primary purpose of Inkaneep park is to protect small areas of antelope brush and cottonwood riparian habitat along the Okanagan River, north of Oliver.
The proposal was first considered by the Electoral Area C Advisory Planning Commission at a meeting in December.
Patton said they did not like the idea of a road through the park because it could become a viable access road instead of only being used for emergencies, as well as it being an environmentally sensitive area.
Instead, the citizens group suggested a road along the border of the reserve and the provincial park, used strictly for emergency access.
Despite their opposition the board made the decision to put in a route that was short and direct with the least impact.
Patton voted against it but supports the board’s decision.
“It was a scary thing to vote against it for environmental reasons, but I know it was a difficult decision for everyone,” he said.
In February 2012, the BC government selected the Osoyoos Indian Band’s proposed site in the business park on Highway 97 as the preferred location for the 378 cell, high security facility.
Since then, BC Corrections has been developing a business case, securing funding and coordinating with the band on land use and utilities.
In December, the government released a Request for Qualifications to identify those capable of delivering the facility.
Site preparation is expected to begin in 2013, construction in early 2014, with the project slated for completion by the summer of 2016.
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