Now, I’m saying nothing. This is just speculation built on conjecture founded on rumour and, yes, a few interesting hints from various sources. But I’m just saying. You may remember way back in the Before Times, when the word pandemic meant little or nothing to any of us, the Doug Ford government dropped a bombshell on this fine community that they intended to build a kind of facility, which they didn’t call a prison, but it would have doors that locked only from the outside. There followed a long series of gatherings, “consultations”, babies in various bath tubs in fear of being unceremoniously thrown out, not to mention claims and counter claims, allegations, and accusations, and obfuscations, and confrontations with implications. It was a time of tribulations.
Well, the story is, it seems, not that I’m saying anything, that the whole idea may be dropped, that the decision has already been considered positively to forget the whole thing. And, if so, there are a number of reasons for so doing. One major consideration on the part of the government is that the world has changed since the pandemic. First of all, they found that, in order to allow social distancing (remember that concept?) In prisons, they were able to release a third of remand prisoners into the community without causing a major crime wave. “Perhaps”, they thought, “we really don’t need as many rooms that only lock from the outside after all?”
Then, as many people in the construction industry, or trying to buy a house, or find an electrician, discovered, the price of everything they needed had exploded. Everything cost a great deal more than it used to, a significant change in the estimated cost of building a “facility”, even if you already owned the land. Furthermore, because of the quiet, but very effective behind the scenes contributions of our mayor and council colleagues (as they rather cutely refer to themselves), the Ford regime were faced with a large bill to cover infrastructure costs that may, or may not, be generated by their project. Those costs, too, went through the roof (not to mention the costs of finding a roof in the first place).
One other fascinating factor that focused feelings forcefully was the infamous episode of the Green Belt, Steve Clark, and the province building on green fields. Given the rather sensitive souls supervising our society, yet another story in the provincial and national media containing the words “green fields”, “Doug Ford”, “building on agricultural land”, and “Steve Clark”, would not necessarily be welcome to a party before another election. I’m just saying.
What might be the state of mind of the Solicitor General and the Premier these days on the topic of a “facility” in North Grenville? Well, of course, there is a different Sol Gen (as they so cutely refer to themselves) in place than the one who caused the kerfuffle a few years ago, so that may make it less embarrassing to change their minds. Perhaps their hope is that everyone will just quietly forget about the whole thing if given enough time. People do forget quite easily when a topic is not kept in front of their minds, so that would work well, if not for one thing. Some people are clearly quite committed to not forgetting the whole thing, and making sure no-one else forgets either.
There is a Judicial Review going on, and that may be a problem, you would think, for the Ford government. However, it may, in fact, work to their benefit. They have the legal eagles on staff, as well as an endless supply of our tax money to fund the thing, so the longer it takes, the less people will pay attention, aside from those few residents paying their share of the costs. Even if Ford & Co. get bad Reviews for their performance, there’s always appeals to fill the months ahead. And if they have already decided that the entire production isn’t worth the bad reviews, they may resign themselves and, as Longfellow wrote about some Arabs one time, turn their backs on “the cares, that infest the day, shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, and as silently steal away”. “Silently” being the key word here.
But all of this is possibly misinformed speculation, and the hints and rumours that may be out there may simply be, to throw in another classical quote, “sound and fury, signifying nothing”. It may be that when the government transfers the excess lands on the site to the Municipality, they then proceed to proceed and all of this becomes just vanity of vanities and trying to catch the wind. In the end, to CAPP it off, Ford may simply tell his opponents to JOG off. Mind you, I’m saying nothing.