About 20 North Grenville residents gathered on Saturday to protest the establishment of the new provincial correctional facility for the Kemptville College Farm lands. Members of the North Grenville Jail Opposition Group (JOG) met at Rotary Park at 1 pm on Saturday and marched through the downtown core, carrying signs speaking out against the correctional facility. “The facts are clear, and they support our gut feeling that this is a bad idea for Kemptville,” JOG member Kirk Albert said at the protest. “The facts support that prisons do more harm than good in small communities.”
According to the research done by JOG, prisons need networks, social services, access to public transportation, courts, public utilities, and infrastructure, homeless shelters, hospitals of a sufficient size, indigenous support programs, and community supports like the John Howard and Elizabeth Fry Societies. “The fact is Kemptville has none of those,” Kirk said. Jim Bertram of JOG also noted that the correctional facility would be a burden on the municipality’s infrastructure, like the water and wastewater system. “Guess who is going to pay for that,” he said to the crowd. “I’m looking at them.”
Kirk said that, while everyone present at the protest had their own reasons for being there, they were all united in their appreciation of their small but growing community, with schools, restaurants, recreation, green space, culture, agriculture and, most of all, neighbours.
“Neighbours like all of you who care enough to be here today; who recognize that we are being told to be the solution for the provincial government’s problem, and know that, once shovels go in the ground at the proposed site for the prison, that what we have now will be forever changed.”
According to Kirk, JOG’s goal is to have the province rethink, reassess and, hopefully, backtrack on their decision to build the correctional facility on the Kemptville Campus. “The Ford government has a lengthy list of decision backtracking examples. We need to add one more entry to that list.”
Although the number of people who joined the protest on Saturday was small, Kirk noted that there are many other people in the community who support their efforts who couldn’t be there due to COVID-19, or other stressors. The JOG Facebook group currently has 103 members. “We are a large group that is growing, and I think we can make a difference.”
For more information about JOG’s efforts, visit the NG Jail Opposition Facebook page.