Letter to the Editor – Correctional Facility

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Dear Editor,

Thank you for your consideration of my letter.

Since the surprise announcement from Mr. Clark our MPP, that a prison facility is being planned to be placed in Kemptville, several irking characteristics from the communication particularly stand out. Mr. Clark pointed out land owned by Ontario can be designated as needed by the Ontario Government first before other interests. This Ontario owned land is now bespoken for this prison. Next, Mr. Clark indicated consultation (?) will follow. Hmmm… was not a decision just announced prior to consultation? Mr. Clark’s Executive Assistant indicated Kemptville, North Grenville residents can consult on some aspects of design and placement and such. However, the tone of the announcements, or when trying to get more clarity from our MPP’s office, the message is: it is not actually open to be reconsidered. WHY?

Perhaps there are benefits to such a project, but I cannot understand how the ideas, aspirations, plans, and hopes of the residents of Kemptville/North Grenville were not solicited before a decision was announced? Why this land was chosen, apart from ownership by Ontario, is not explained! Is there no other less arable, less central to downtown, land owned by Ontario that would do for ploughing under and asphalting under prison structures? What else was considered? The explanation seems something like: each ministry can speak up for “dibs” if it is rejected by another ministry. And voila a use is found by the concerned public servants/minister for the land in question. If not, then the affected community can at last have a chance for dibs. They may not know anything about us and our town. The concerned MPP can write in his news announcement that he is proud of his achievement in getting this project placed. Is it gratifying that Mr. Clark is proud BEFORE consulting?

It is said that Ontario has first “dibs” on Ontario Land. But are we in this area not citizens, residents, and tax payers of Ontario? We live here and perhaps had a different “personality” in mind for the development of our area! It is arable land, with useful buildings, and is part of the history of our town!

There may be economic considerations I, as a non-consulted resident, do not yet know about. Perhaps the explanation and consultation might make me feel less disappointed that this project is being planned to be near schools, day care centres, downtown, and the projects planned for township owned land on the previous Guelph University Kemptville Campus. It may be a modern, good prison structure that is planned. But how will its presence be a positive influence, or enhance our corner of Ontario? This proposed project does not seem to be green, artistic, nor aspirational for Kemptville.

Other towns have gone through this process of their plans or ideas being overridden. Perhaps the logistics of the process of how decisions and plans in Ontario are decided needs to be reconsidered. Perhaps consultation should be done before decisions are announced? Perhaps, in the whole large area of the riding Leeds/Grenville/Thousand Islands/Rideau Lakes, there is other land owned by Ontario that could accommodate a prison NOT close to schools, daycare centres, downtown, or in conflict with community aspirations!

Best wishes.
Nadia Gray

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