The juxtaposition of two almost side by side articles in the July 28 edition of The North Grenville Times about the prison and a request for information by the “Municipality for input from residents for a new strategic plan” amused and then made me sad.
Appropriate plans enhance the objectives for a community, the way the right frame contributes to enhancing a painting. I write today because of a specific concern about the frame of governance and accountability vis a vis our community by the Ontario Government as represented by our MPP Steve Clark.
Why such abrupt treatment in the announcement to his constituents by our MPP? Many Kemptville North Grenville residents have, in meetings, shown professional expertise in such fields as town planning, agriculture, crop management, social issues and the history of our land. Their plea is to have a transparent presentation of facts about the prison and to take their information into account! Mr. MPP, why not do this?
What fiscal outline and planning was being used by Steve Clark as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing that meant that the whys and wherefores could not be transparent? When does he wear his MPP persona?
Does failing to meet the criteria for siting indicate a prudent context to go ahead with spending millions of dollars on a FAILED SITE for a prison in Kemptville? In the context that Kemptville did not meet the criteria for placement of a prison, is it logical to announce that not only will a prison be located in Kemptville, but additionally the DECISION is UNALTERABLE. Hmmm, is it time for questions?
Did his fellow Minister, the Solicitor General, know that the criteria were not met, or at best that it was an “iffy“ fit for Kemptville, before or after choosing the site? When did our MPP know? Why would one official, and in this case two senior ministers in the Ontario Government, push so hard for a multimillion project when the site suitability is in question? The explanation? Is criteria set in an Ontario planning exercise not a basic requirement, not just for placement, but more importantly to have a framework for meeting the objectives for costs as well as for building an appropriate prison?
Millions of dollars are at stake, tax payer dollars, in an era of huge deficits! The atmosphere and future nature of our community are at stake! Well, dear reader, what do you think?
I believe that if there had been consultation, with facts disclosed from the start, the final prison decision could have been different. That is where facts up front had a role, aka transparency. Would you, dear reader, in the context of this knowledge, have agreed that the prison project was an appropriate one for this land? How is this information failure known? JOG and CAPP, through the Freedom of Information track, received the pages from the office of the Solicitor General. And now?
In the article: “Mayor Peckford on the Correctional Facility”, there is an explanation that the Mayor and Council were “gobsmacked” by Mr. Clark’s disclosure. I assume that on whatever side the reader’s opinion lies, in the event of an exchange of ideas face to face, the issues and ideas would be substantive and discussed respectfully. Much substantive information against the prison has been outlined. But what has the pro side submitted? Is there a pro group among North Grenville residents?