Positive news about our Judicial Review
by Victor Lachance
As many residents of North Grenville will know by now, Kirk Albert and I launched a judicial review of the Province’s decision to build a prison on prime farmland of the former Kemptville Agricultural College. Readers of the Times may also have noticed when NG Times Editor Brandon Mayer mentioned that the Coalition Against the Proposed Prison (CAPP) would be providing some updates and interesting information about what we’ve discovered as a result of the judicial review (JR) process. For this update I’m pleased to share three pieces of positive news regarding the JR.
First, when the Province tried to have the court dismiss our JR application, not only did Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith reject the Province’s motion, but he took the trouble to say a few other things. The Judge said: “The Applicants [that’s Kirk and I] have identified several arguable grounds for relief as the Respondents [that’s the Province] failed to follow several provisions of its Provincial Policy Statements when deciding to build a correctional facility in the town of Kemptville.” By the way, our MPP and then Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs Steve Clark wrote the Provincial Policy Statements in question. The Judge went even further and said that the Province did not consult with the Municipality as required by the Planning Act, and that the decision to build in North Grenville does not conform with the Municipality’s Official Plan. This decision by Justice Smith will be very helpful to our case.
Next, there’s the similarity between the Greenbelt fiasco and the Kemptville prison situation. First off, it involves the same players, Premier Ford and now former Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, Steve Clark, along with the former Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. The Greenbelt decisions favoured housing developers, not affordable housing, while the prison decision benefits prison developers, not the community. Meanwhile, MPP Sylvia Jones, now Deputy Premier, was busy holding fundraisers in her riding attended by big developers who benefitted from the Greenbelt changes, from Ministerial Zoning Orders (issued by Steve Clark) and by changes to lands designated “agricultural” – just like the Kemptville farmland and farm buildings that the Province wants to destroy – into designations that would allow for large development projects. And the Province failed to consult with the public or with experts in all of these cases, just like they did here. All this too will help our case as these similarities show how the Ford government operates.
And finally, as previously noted by the Times Editor, CAPP has been approved by the Board of the Small Change Fund charitable organisation to work together to protect and conserve the farmland site. That means that donors who want to save the farmland by stopping the prison construction can receive charitable tax receipts. The money will go towards increasing awareness about the importance of saving the farmland, and the benefits of doing so, and also support the judicial review process that, if successful, will help other towns and grassroots organisations facing similar undemocratic actions by the Province. The SCF-CAPP campaign will be developed over the next few weeks. We’ll be announcing when the campaign goes live on the Small Change Fund website. Stay tuned.
Victor Lachance is a member of CAPP.