by Rachel Everett-Fry
Fieldwork at the site of the proposed Eastern Ontario Correctional Complex (EOCC) began last week.
The Ministry of the Solicitor General (SolGen) issued a letter to the Municipality of North Grenville stating that this activity marks the beginning of an approximately three-month period in which the early steps toward development will take place.
The letter stated that, “contractors will undertake environmental, geotechnical, archaeological and survey assessments as well as site servicing work to make informed decisions about the future of the Kemptville site.” The site is located on the former Kemptville College lands, on the north and south sides of College Road.
There is some concern among residents in opposition to the prison that the commencement of these activities will reaffirm a public perception that the prison is a done deal, and thus, not worth fighting.
Jail Opposition Group (JOG) spokesperson, Kirk Albert, stated that, “activity at the proposed site should not be misinterpreted by the community.” Indeed, some of this activity may include preparations for the 2022 International Plowing Match to be held on the same lands.
Likewise, Colleen Lynas, on behalf of the Coalition Against the Proposed Prison (CAPP) stated this preliminary work, “changes nothing in terms of our continued window to stop the construction of the proposed prison.”
In fact, there is a precedent for such work beginning, only for a project to be called off due to community counteraction. Colleen points out that, “Work of a similar nature was completed for the planned Xinyi Glass Plant in Stratford (Ontario), as noted in a 2020 Environmental Impact Study.
The residents of Stratford successfully fought to stop the project earlier this year.” Colleen stated that this is not a done deal. “The residents of Kemptville and North Grenville who are opposed, or simply concerned, have the right and the capacity to ask the important questions and make their voices heard.”
Kirk has noticed an increase in interest from the community in opposing the prison since JOG and CAPP made public the discrepancies, contradictions, and a general lack of transparency with the information our community received from SolGen.
“Now that mobility and social restrictions from the pandemic are lifting, it is great to see a resurgence of interest and support from residents in opposition to the proposed prison.We have wise and resourceful residents in our community. They’ve realized that the Provincial government’s claims of prosperity for our community as a result of the prison haven’t been substantiated, nor can they be.”
Despite the lack of information coming from Solgen, community members are actively seeking out the facts and pointing out that the proposed prison plan is deeply flawed.
“Opposition efforts are continuing to demonstrate the widespread community opinion against this plan, and that the Province is very aware of the strong dissent, and monitoring it regularly” explains Kirk.
For more information, visit https://www.coalitionagainstproposedprison.ca/, or search for NG Jail Opposition Group (JOG) on Facebook.