The local group, Coalition Against the Proposed Prison (CAPP), is still going strong in its fight against the proposed Eastern Ontario Correctional Complex that is slated to be built on Kemptville Campus lands, if the Province has its way.
The CAPP members’ main focus right now is the ongoing Judicial Review which was requested jointly by CAPP and a similar-minded organization, the Jail Opposition Group (JOG). The judicial review saw some preliminary success earlier this year when a judge refused the Province’s motion to dismiss it outright, indicating that the Judge believed there was at least a case for the arguments to be heard.
Victor Lachance from CAPP explained that although the judicial review process is going strong, it is not free, and there is nothing to stop the Province from destroying historical buildings and beginning the construction while the process is ongoing. CAPP has asked the Municipality to match contributions from members of the public to support the judicial review, and the organization has also encouraged the Municipality to file for an injunction that would protect the historical Campus buildings while the judicial review is underway.
Mayor Nancy Peckford responded to these request via the Times. “The Municipality has made significant efforts since the provincial government’s announcement of plans for the provincial correctional facility to save as many buildings as possible on the farmside lands,” she said. “Council has been very clear with the province that the Municipality would like the AM Barr Arena, horse stables and other buildings in good condition to be preserved and re-utilized if we can get jurisdiction over them. In regard to the Judicial Review funds request, this option has not been pursued by Council.”
While very open about possible steps and actions that Council could take to fight the proposed prison, CAPP has recently softened its position on Council decisions related to the project. In a conversation with the Times, Lachance explained that Council is frequently tasked with making tough decisions, and there is evidence that the Province bullied the Municipality into making some statements to cast the prison in a better light.
Has there been progress made on the prison opposition front? Lachance explained that although the Province can work on the project during the judicial review, work seems to have slowed down significantly. This is likely because the Province doesn’t want to waste the money on work without knowing if the project will be cancelled in the future following a successful judicial review.
In response to the idea that Council cannot support the judicial review since not every local resident is against the proposed prison, Lachance points out that the judicial review is something that benefits everyone, no matter their opinions on the project. This is because it will help to clarify details of the project including such things as who will pay for what, and how it fits into local zoning and planning.
Lachance was excited to announce that a non-profit organization called Small Change Fund has partnered with CAPP and JOG to support the judicial review. A next step for the judicial review will be to request that the Province be mandated to release information that it has not previously disclosed to the Court relating to matters such as how they chose Kemptville as the location for the prison. “The reason we know the information exists is because we’ve obtained some of it through the Freedom of Information process,” Lachance explained. “We claim that they didn’t abide by the Provincial Policy Statement and the Planning Act, and if we’re right, the Court will prohibit them from moving ahead with the project.”
Future updates from CAPP will be shared by Lachance in the Times to keep readers informed of the status of the judicial review and other exclusive details about the project and the Province’s actions. It is expected that such updates will be informative for people who are both for and against the project.