First Nation chief calls for closure of William Head Institution
VICTORIA -- The chief councillor of Sc’ianew (Beecher Bay) First Nation is calling for William Head prison to be closed and the land it sits on to be returned to his nation after two inmates escaped and allegedly killed a Metchosin man.
Chief Councillor Russ Chipps said he and his father used to search for escaped prisoners years ago, and this is not the first time someone has walked out of William Head.
“This is the extreme and I am sorry that the family had to pay the price,” said Chipps.
Eleven months after James Lee Busch and Zachary Armitage escaped, RCMP charged the two with first-degree murder in connection to the death of Martin Payne.
“The prison should be surplussed and sent to the treaty association so we can figure out what it is we can do with the land,” said Chipps. “Do I want it closed? Yes. It is not serving a purpose in my mind anymore.”
William Head inmates can enrol in fishing and Indigenous courses. They can also walk freely around the 87-acre property. An eight-foot fence around the property is designed to keep people out, not in.
“We are looking for housing, we are looking for places to have our social gatherings, we are looking for health facilities,” said Chipps.
The mayors of Metchosin and Langford have both said the changes made at the prison by the Correctional Service of Canada are not adequate.
“They’re making it more secure, and the more secure they make it, the more high-risk people they’re going to put in there,” said Chipps.
Inmates are being watched closely and a total of nine prisoners who were at William Head have been relocated to medium security facilities, but Chipps says the damage has already been done.
“It’s too late to talk about who has been moved and who has not, there has already been a tragedy. We should have been talking about this along time ago,” he said.