Thank you for your “Hopelessly Hoping” editorial. Lots of food for thought. In that vein, I have been thinking about the future of Kemptville and North Grenville.
What is the purpose of the proposed prison in Kemptville’s future, other than to house 235 strangers, convicted or charged with various crimes? There will be social and other services, and perhaps some of the employees will be Kemptvillians? Is that enough “economic” benefit to balance the changes it would bring to the Character of Kemptville?
The proposed location for this prison, at the doorstep of the south entry to Kemptville’s downtown via road 44, is such an “in our face” location, it is hard to imagine it not truncating our options for future endeavours. There it will sit.
Is this Prison project better than something the tax payers and residents could propose and imagine, or over time realize for their future? It seems not to be green, nor aspirational, nor really a benefit to the growth of our economic endeavours. We live in Ontario and pay taxes, and our future was decided without us!
Does Ontario in this time of growing deficit, in fact, have the millions, mentioned in Mr. Clark’s article, as necessary to fund this project and the ancillary costs to the town for enlarging roads, water and sewer plant, and other infrastructure to support this intrusive prison presence?
This situation arises because it is seen as the “right” of Ontario Ministers unilaterally to choose fallow lands for development! Consultation would normally mean a discussion of options. It is not an after the fact, zoom presentation to discuss a prison without any other option!
Missing in this Prison conversation from the Kemptville residents‘ side is: information on who said what to whom, when? So my quest was to find out how to get information under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act in Ontario. One of the contacts was with Mr. Clark’s executive assistant at his constituency office.
This conversation led to his asking me if I was registered to take part in the virtual Information Consultation on November 26. The Solicitor General and Mr. Clark were to give a “fulsome” explanation and “consultation” of the details for the building of this proposed prison. From the start, Mr. Clark in his newspaper unveiling did present this as unchangeable, and so ? The Executive Assistant very pleasantly pointed out details that he hoped would show me how open and transparent this meeting would be. It is a closed process, and why spend time listening to spin? The spin part is calling this “consultation”!
I ask, on what basis, other than the land is owned by Ontario? Were town planners part of considering options? Are the whys and wherefores important? Because it is a pivotal decision for the future, yes! And much more determinative than in larger towns such, as Lindsay, population 20,713, or Kingston, population in excess of 136,000, or Gananoque, population in excess of 5,000, but whose prison is not on the entrance to its quite lovely downtown. This is right on the doorstep of our small downtown which is signposted as “Old Town Kemptville”. (Kemptville population 3,500 approx.)
Old Town Kemptville may be a modest place, but there are aspirations by the community to develop it creatively. Regardless of promised cosmetic landscaping, the character of this small place will be very impacted by an expensive prison to house people in single occupancy rooms with more comfort than some people in our community who have worked hard.
So, will Mr. Clark and the Solicitor General agree to put this prison somewhere less intrusive to community life? It may be that opening dialogue right from the “get go” may result in more ideas and cooperation than only offsite politicians and civil servants can think of.
Casting a vote once every four years or so should not be a Carte Blanche to impose such fundamental lifestyle changes on a community. If the encouragement of the “Shopping Local“ philosophy helps build economic possibilities, then why not plan from local up. Stop top down edicts!
One would wish to rely on the good intentions, good managerial talents, and informed knowledge of our elected MPPs. But, can they exercise this in a hermetically sealed process without local input? I submit NO!
Well, we each must decide whether a vigorous opposition is warranted.
May everyone keep safe and well.