Letter to the editor – Correctional Facility

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Dear Editor,

There is already no shortage of views on the proposed correctional facility for Kemptville. In the absence of detailed information, people tend to fill-in-the-blanks using what they hear, or already believe to be the case. In this context, I put up an online survey for a week to try and get a more collective sense of what people think. Almost 200 people participated.

Are people in favour of the proposed facility? Overall the split was fairly even, with 40% for, and against, and 20% not sure yet. However, when considering people’s views based on where they live, 60% of those who live within 1 km were against it, whereas in the rest of North Grenville those against numbered only 35%.

Do people’s views change if there are going to be economic benefits to the municipality? Yes; support rose by almost 15%, to 56.5%. There was not a big drop in those against which fell by only 5% to 33%. The majority (almost 51%) felt there would not be a risk to residents.

Nevertheless, a little over one-third did express a concern in this regard.
44% of respondents thought property values would decline, while 25% thought they would go up.

The Province has stated that consultations will be undertaken in the future. There was a significant degree of cynicism on this point, with over half of respondents saying that it does not matter what the community thinks. Yet only 2% said they were not interested enough to participate, while almost half said they wanted to learn more about the proposal and look forward to participating.

So what to take from all this?

The (online) community is engaged and eager for more information. The greatest concerns are expressed by those living closest, though those who use Kemptville Campus might join that group (and that could be examined in a follow-up survey in the future).

The Province has to do some catch-up in the area of trust, as the announcement caught people off guard, including the municipal Council. Lots of information is being shared among residents like stories about the Burritts Rapids correctional facility, closed over 20 years ago. The land is the Province’s, but how will it be serviced? Kemptville is short of water and waste treatment. Does the proposed facility get in at the back of the line? Kingston seems to have done well for itself, notwithstanding over a century of housing some of Canada’s worst criminals (a much different client than who ends up in a provincial jail).

Keep an open mind, participate, and make an effort to understand the views of others.

Mitch Bloom
Oxford Mills

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