I am writing in response to Mitch Bloom’s recent Letter to the Editor (North Grenville Times, January 13, 2021) in which he shared the results of a survey he wrote and “posted on a number of local Facebook groups”. I am in opposition to the provincial government’s plans to build the “Eastern Ontario Correctional Complex” in Kemptville and opted not to complete the survey given my concerns about its lack of a valid sampling technique, as well as the phrasing and limitations of some of the questions. Mr. Bloom has publicly acknowledged that the survey was not based on any sampling methodologies, but instead represents those Facebook users who saw the survey and chose to complete it.
One of the questions included in the survey asked respondents to consider whether they would support the facility “if there were economic benefits to the community”. Since the Ford government’s announcement of plans to build the facility, unsubstantiated claims of economic benefits have been made by Minister Steve Clark, as well as other government representatives. Not only do these purported benefits contradict the independent academic research on the subject, but the Ministry of the Solicitor General’s own community engagement session failed to provide any evidence of substantive economic benefits for North Grenville. In turn, what have not been addressed by our government leaders are the alternative economic development opportunities lost, and the community aspirations unrealized, should this prison be built.
Mr. Bloom is a member of the municipality’s Community and Economic Development Advisory Committee, as are Mayor Peckford and Deputy Mayor McManaman. I urge all members of that committee, as well as our other business leaders and owners, to critically analyze the objective information available to them, and to not fall prey to bureaucratic talking points and wishful thinking.