by Victor Lachance
Today I want to share with you how the Province intends to fight the Judicial Review of the Province’s decision to build a prison in Kemptville, which found that their decision did not abide by their own Provincial Policy Statements and the Planning Act.
At first, they tried to have the JR application dismissed. They argued that we were too late to file an application, because it was two years after they announced the decision to use the former Kemptville Agricultural College farmland and destroy farm building, to build the prison. The important thing to remember here is that they based their whole Motion to Dismiss on the fact that the government’s decision to build the prison here was made on or before August 27, 2020.
Having failed in that first attempt, they have developed a new strategy. Wait for it. They now say that there was no decision made in August of 2020. That’s right, they wanted the case dismissed because the decision was made in August 2020, but now they claim that there can’t be a JR because there was no decision made in August 2020. If this doesn’t give you an idea of what we’re up against, there’s more.
During the Motion to Dismiss, they only submitted material from Infrastructure Ontario (IO). The decision to build in Kemptville came from the Ministry of the Solicitor General (SolGen). But SolGen had nothing to say. Rather than stand up and defend their decision, SolGen basically hid behind IO, which wasn’t even named in the JR application. But the only sworn affidavit submitted to the court came from a person at IO who could not answer on behalf of SolGen. If this still doesn’t give you an idea of what we’re up against, well, there’s more.
Having failed in the Motion to Dismiss case, they had to give the court a record of how the Solicitor General made the decision to build in Kemptville. That’s called a Record of Proceedings, and it should contain all the relevant information that led up to August 27, 2020. They submitted almost 700 pages, but only 17 of those pages were dated before August 2020, and the rest after. And guess where those 17 pages came from. IO, not SolGen.
Every single action on the part of our Municipality, every public information or consultation session held by SolGen, every promise made, and all the work they’ve done and money spent over the past three years, and filing a Motion to Dismiss, were all based on the fact that they had decided to build here and nowhere else. But now they claim there was no such decision. Apparently we are to believe that the Premier of Ontario, the highest political office of the Province, the then Solicitor General, the highest office in provincial correctional services, the then Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs (our disgraced MPP) and three mayors assembled for a media conference in Brockville to announce a non-decision. The rationale for a Kemptville prison was a non-rationale, the supposed benefits were non-benefits and the stated timeline was a non-timeline. Remember when we were told this was a done deal? Well apparently they were just kidding. We’ll pick up from here in the next column.