Letters to the editor

Dear Editor,

On March 23, 2021 the meeting of the North Grenville Council was held virtually to discuss the issues surrounding the proposed prison project. The meeting was organized in response to the request by JOG, The Jail Opposition Group. This is the first such meeting agreed to by our council, months since the supposedly unalterable decision was announced by MPP Steve Clark. Mr. Clark’s other hat is Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

No possibility of reviewing this decision? No consultation with the COMMUNITY ie MUNICIPALITY? Which hat did he wear when HIS announcement was printed in the local papers? Is there a possible conflict of interest between these two hats?

WHY won’t our MPP Steve Clark and Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones not review the objection by residents? As an observer, I found presentations were well argued, fact supported, with modern information and viable alternatives presented. WHY can’t we get direct replies and a reconsideration of a non logical use of resources and a major change to OUR COMMUNITY? Why? ( see the recorded minutes of the NG Council meeting).

So far, it seems the yes to the project, is based on the statement made months ago that it is land owned by Ontario and so it is to hold the prison. What other logical, economic, social, penal or other reasoning is there?

Now consider the costs of Kemptville Prison!! Producing very peripheral benefits to the Kemptville Community and residents with astronomical costs to the Ontario Treasury! AND an illogical project from many points of view. IS IT BECAUSE MPP STEVE CLARK is caught in an outdated Ontario apportionment of responsibilities for community planning? Is it because he is unable to realize that his and all elected officials’ responsibility is to good governance, economy and efficiency in the management of tax payers dollars? WHY?

THINK about the announced cost by our MPP! COSTs OF Millions of $$$++ if Ontario builds a 235 bed PRISON at the Southern entry to our small town. Why is it being built here? The cost may exceed $1,000,000,000 per bed!!! That is before any other costs for guards, services etc. Etc. ETC. So millions more over many years could be involved! W H Y?? AND that does not yet cover points in the discussion of social and land use/ rights among other issues in this rural agricultural milieu. AGAIN…WHY?

What about the “Prisoners” who will be held in the confines of this prison? The transportation infrastructure of public transport does not exist from Kemptville to other destinations. How do their families visit if they lack transport? How do they get anywhere on day or other parole? What about SERVICES to support their needs in health, counselling and so on? What about the Hospital and other services being called upon? These are practical considerations. Months ago in the inaugural virtual meeting, hosted by the Solicitor General’s Department, it was announced security is to be provided by patrolling drones. Does this seem to the powers at be an innovative mindset for prison planning and management? Is this appropriate on the doorstep to our town?

It is not 100% of residents who object. But the majority of residents apparently object or need a clearer picture for the WHY of this unalterable project! I understood we are supposed to have a democracy as the basis of governance. But our MPP, supposedly representing the people of this corner of his riding announced: the issue of the decision re this prison is final and unalterable! WHY??? What supports its unalterability?

On March 23 several well qualified professional residents in fields from business, academia, research and agriculture presented facts and outlines from studies that should have been considered by our MPP and Ms. Jones BEFORE the decision they made concerning our community’s future! All that seems clear is they wanted to plop a prison somewhere and they thought they could quietly appropriate this parcel in our community. It is a modern example of where might is not right!

Are there no issues of greater urgency for the spending of Ontario Tax Dollars? This prison, if built, will not only imprison individuals, it will also imprison historic farm land under concrete. Remember that a bid was made by this community to buy this land. The objective was to develop innovative projects for the economic future of this community. The answer by Mr. Steve Clark then and now is an unalterable, NO. Based on what logic? It may clear the air if Mr Clark, Ms. Jones and the residents who are for this project were also invited to present their case? How many are supportive of this project? Why?

Our local Mayor and Council meet with unidentified stakeholders. Who are these stakeholders? But only after months have passed and because of community pressure was there a public virtual meeting scheduled with residents. Why? What has Council been doing with this issue? It looks like drafting “asks” from Mr. Clark and Ms. Jones in exchange for ??? Why? I recognize that the Local Mayor and Council are a junior level of the hierarchy in the Ontario Government pyramid and so also wonder what responsibility they have to 1) the MPP vs 2)Local Residents?

Not clear! Where do they stand? Not explained except perhaps this or that may happen. What? BUT, by their muted approach they have abdicated leadership to get at pros, cons, facts and the whys and wherefores! Why? As you can see I find this not a logical fit and a staggeringly poor expenditure of tax dollars.

But it is also not a help in terms of the HEALTH of our community environment in any positive way. My conclusion ends with a quote from the 2021 theme for Earth Day…RESTORE OUR EARTH! It seems to me: Not for the prisoners to be incarcerated; or for the land itself; or for our community, does this prison project represent… RESTORE! the following not a better frame to the future of North Grenville and Kemptville? Earth day is April 22.

“EARTHDAY.ORG’s theme for Earth Day 2021 is Restore Our Earth™, which focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems….It is up to each and every one of us to Restore Our Earth not just because we care about the natural world, but because we live on it. We all need a healthy Earth to support our jobs, livelihoods, health & survival, and happiness. A healthy planet is not an option – it is a necessity.”

So again! Why are we swirling in this illogical supposedly unalterable decision? Mr. Clark, Ms. Jones and Premier Ford this is the question that needs a response!

Best regards.
Nadia Gray



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