Letter to the Editor – Correctional Facility

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Dear Editor,

Random thoughts brought on by having time to muse during this pandemic. The prison project did surface in these thoughts. Thank you for your consideration.

Remember when teachers would admonish their young students to choose a subject? Then, in writing compositions, to answer: Who? What? When? Why? How?….? During this pandemic, musing has sometimes just taken over. Well, the subjects that have filtered through my mind again and again have to do with facts, governance coupled with leadership, and, finally, transparency coupled with ethics. I am not wise enough, nor do I have enough facts, to provide the answers to the 4 W’s in these areas. However, I do want to frame the questions that perhaps others can relate to and answer. These are musings, not in any order, but they keep knocking for my attention.

  1. When someone decides to put themselves forward for public office at any level of governing, should it be understood and expected that they are truthful, ethical, consultative, and vetted by their constituency or party to be qualified? If yes, then how do they stay proactive regarding the needs and concerns of their constituents?
  2. If elected office holders become motivated to serving their agenda, ego, or ambition, and do not first ascertain the economic, efficient, effective use/cost of resources; why is it a surprise each time to the voters who gave their trust in their vote, perhaps several votes over time?
  3. Why do communities accede to housing, road, or other development without criteria and agreement of what is to be met and required in the plans? Why should development be passed without such measures?
  4. Should Timetables of milestones be put in place as part of any project, and a deposit required from the developers/entrepreneurs/ government ministry? If there is an impact on community infrastructures, and a need to expand services such as water, roads, schools, other services; then, up front, before project initiation, what planning/ funding/resources can be agreed to be supplied by each responsibility centre and in what timeframes?
  5. Why can the central Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister/Department impose projects without explanation, community consultation, costing, or impact/ feasibility studies on any community? Why are Needs Assessments, Feasibility, Impact and Cost not the first things required to be studied and considered before announcing a decision to go ahead with any level of government projects?
  6. What recourse does a community, profoundly affected by a government project, have if it is not wanted by the majority of residents? Is it a conflict of interest if their elected provincial MPP is the Minister of Municipal Affairs and openly describes his pride in the still to be costed future project?
  7. How can centrally controlled planning, divided among Ministerial responsibility with each having Province wide cover, be efficient, effective, economic? If the affected communities are not part of the discussion from the start, and only the fact of Ontario Government ownership of the land considered, how is this economic, effective, efficient, or allow for aspirational objectives?
  8. How come the specifications for a project can’t be communicated to communities to ascertain which feel they do meet/want: and, which feel they do not meet/want the project specifications?
  9. Is it more efficient to adopt a bottom-up planning for Ontario Communities? The responsibilities of the Ministries are quite defined. Why not use those definitions to network and plan in partnership with communities?

    OR

  10. Is it more effective to parachute projects into communities without prior detailed staff work, prior to feasibility testing against project needs, prior to identifying community infrastructure impacts, prior to consulting? Prior to knowing the total costs?

As you see Dear Editor, these musing ended up centred on the proposed construction of the provincial prison in Kemptville. I have realized that this project affects me as resident of Kemptville; tax payer at the municipal, county, and provincial level; and, most of all, as an admirer of the community endeavours and spirit of this small community. Wearing all these hats, I cannot understand this placement of a prison on our doorstep.

Best wishes,
Nadia Gray

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