PENTICTON - As construction begins winding down at the Okanagan Correctional Centre and employment patterns begin to shift, so too does the institution’s economic impact on the South Okanagan economy.
B.C. Corrections says 220 construction workers remain on site, a decline from a peak of 318 workers at the height of construction.
Work remaining includes landscaping, commissioning of electrical and mechanical systems, furnishings and fixtures.
Permanent prison staff consists of the warden and three deputy wardens at this time.
Between now and the end of the year, an additional 35 staff will be starting work, with variable dates for other staff who may need on site training prior to the prison becoming fully operational in 2017.
There are still 70 correctional officer positions available for hire, with a final information session scheduled for July 17 in Penticton. The session takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Penticton Days Inn, 152 Riverside Drive.
A physical abilities test is required of all applicants applying for a correctional officer position.
Once fully operational, the prison will employ 240 corrections officers and 60 other support positions.
Construction of the prison was on time and budget at $200 million, providing 32 subcontracts to local business.
Boundary Similkameen MLA Linda Larson noted construction jobs were being replaced by a similar number of longer-term, stable, good paying jobs that will be a “major source of employment to the region.”
Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes noted the additional economic diversity brought to the region by the correctional centre, adding new families relocating to the area would also benefit the region’s school districts, recently hit by declining enrolments.
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