by Jim Bertram
Well ladies and gentlemen of North Grenville, the government of Ontario has struck again. Apparently, it was not enough to strip our municipality of the Kemptville College six years ago under the Wynne regime. Now, under Conservative auspices, the town is to become a jail town.
The recent announcement that a jail is to be located in the South end of town within easy reach of four schools was made two days ago. It is my understanding that members of our Council had NO KNOWLEDGE of this project before its unveiling. If that is entirely true, it means that our provincial masters did not see fit to consult our local municipal representatives, a step that would have shown at least an elementary level of respect for the needs and interests of the residents of North Grenville. Given the support given locally to the party in power, it makes one wonder what North Grenville has to do to gain the consideration of the provincial powers.
I wonder if this project was floated elsewhere closer to the large centres which produce the potential inmates of this jail and rejected by powerful interests. “Not for us”, said the well-placed interests in the South of the province. Dump it somewhere else where the people are milder, automatically supportive of the Party, and not likely to “answer back” to the power of government.
The project will be brightly portrayed as an important spur to “economic development”. How will that occur? Should be a great boon to Council’s new emphasis on tourism, right? Well, not exactly. Will Council still need to do a tourism study?
This new jail will be touted as a shining jewel showcasing the most up-to- date methods in dealing with those who can’t manage to operate within the generous limits of the law. But what will those people bring with them in terms of criminal activity? The jail will be said to be a rich provider of jobs. To whom? To local people, or to specialised people from other areas? It will be said to spark growth in the economy. Even as it drives economic development away from Kemptville and causes home values to rise more slowly than in surrounding areas not saddled with a nice shiny new prison. And – will this prison itself grow as its initial phase becomes established? What will be the social effects of this huge institution? Has anyone thought about that? Anyone at all?
And what will be the effect of this addition to our municipality on municipal finances? How much will this institution contribute to municipal finances? How much will it cost the municipality to provide services? What will be the impact on the sewage and water systems? And, given the negative impact on public safety, will the province come across with a generous subsidy to help provide an additional police presence? You know- like IN KEMPTVILLE , not patrolling Hwy 401? Or will the province leave the local taxpayer to flounder in a morass of additional costs and pay much increased property taxes? Another version of the many-headed beast of provincial downloading?
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you will become informed on this issue. Whatever your analysis of the pros and cons, be aware that, as Councillor Barclay has told me, there will be a consultative process relative to this project. I will be writing further on aspects of this initiative as information becomes more plentiful. I really hope you will be too. And I look forward to seeing you at meetings which should be held in the above-mentioned consultation process. In the final analysis, I hope the province doesn’t try to avoid this consultative step under the veil of Covid-19. Be aware and be active in the defense of your own interests.