An upcoming concert in November will be hosted by the local group, Coalition Against the Proposed Prison (CAPP), with proceeds benefiting the legal challenge aimed at reversing the provincial government’s decision to build a correctional facility on the site of the former Kemptville College. The concert will be headlined by Mohawk singer-songwriter Logan Staats.
The legal challenge against the proposed prison was started over a year ago on August 15, 2022, led by locals who oppose the project for various reasons. “The Notice of Application for a Judicial Review that [Victor Lachance and Kirk Albert] filed argues that the Ford government violated their own planning rules by ramming the Kemptville prison project through without consultation with the community or municipal Council,” reads a release sent to the Times.
The fact that musician Logan Staats is Indigenous sheds some light on the reasoning behind his support for CAPP. “We don’t need another prison on stolen Indigenous land,” he said. “We need land back. That’s why I’m joining forces with CAPP to stop Ford’s Kemptville prison.” North Grenville is located on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin Anishinaabe territory.
Trevor Alguire will be performing at the concert as well. “Small town and rural Ontario needs to be respected and our voices need to be heard”, said Trevor. “I was shocked to hear that the Ford government didn’t consult with the residents of Kemptville before deciding to build a prison in their town. Paving over farmland to build that prison is simply irresponsible when our province is losing more than 300 acres of farmland a day. I’m joining forces with CAPP to stop Ford’s Kemptville prison”.
The concert will be hosted by former CBC News anchor Adrian Harewood, who notes “As a journalist, I’ve covered the most pressing issues facing our communities. Today, many are concerned about the future use of agricultural and environmentally sensitive lands. We all want to make communities safer for everyone. I’m honoured to be hosting the Joining Forces concert that brings all these issues into focus”.
The proposed “Eastern Ontario Correctional Complex” (EOCC – commonly referred to as the “proposed prison” or “Kemptville prison”) has been very controversial since it was first announced. A survey published last year in the Times (conducted without the scientific method or quality controls) suggested that 77% of North Grenville residents oppose the project.
“Since the Judicial Review will determine if the Province’s actions were legal, it is in the interests of all residents, whether for or against the proposed prison, to ensure this matter is heard,” said Colleen Lynas from CAPP. “At this stage of the process, municipal Council can still do something; Kirk Albert and Victor Lachance publicly asked them to match the $20,000 raised in support of the judicial review and to undertake an injunction to prevent the Province from destroying the onsite buildings until the outcome of the review is known.”
Colleen notes that an important positive milestone was reached in CAPP’s campaign recently. “Based on Superior Court Justice Robert Smith’s decision on the Province’s motion to dismiss the Judicial Review, we are understandably optimistic. Justice Smith noted that the Province failed to adhere to its own Provincial Policy Statement and the Planning Act.”
MPP Steve Clark has been a target of Colleen’s criticism. Clark was well aware of the Council’s aspirations to purchase the earmarked land, and yet kept them and his constituents in the dark,” she noted. “He failed to ensure that his government met its obligations to both consult with the Municipality and abide by its own planning laws and policies.”
The current focus of the effort is fundraising, but CAPP recognizes that contributing financially is not feasible for everyone. There are other ways to help. “People can help us by liking and sharing our social media content where we are actively promoting the concert,” said Colleen. “For people who would like to attend the concert but are concerned about driving into Ottawa, please email CAPP. There may be others attending who can offer a ride.”
The fundraising concert will take place on November 3 at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre in downtown Ottawa (290 Lisgar Street). All proceeds will support the prison legal challenge. The doors open at 6:30pm, and the concert starts at 7:30pm. There will be a cash bar, and artist and campaign merchandise available for purchase. Tickets went on sale on September 6, and are available at noprison.eventbrite.com.