Letter to the Editor – Correctional Facility

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Dear Editor, 

Reading Councillor Doreen O’Sullivan article, I entered a zone of confusion regarding what I was reading. Initially, there is a lovely ode to North Grenville as a caring, open society. This corner of the world is a special place to call home. Many people have worked in all sorts of ways to nurture their community’s future, character, and accomplishments.

But then I am confused by the description of the placing of the people detained in the  Correctional Centre EOCC as “those who have found themselves in conflict with the law”, and that by having the EOCC in Kemptville, “we will host another group of human beings”.

If we are the “hosts”, when did this community extend an invitation for this development? I remember it as an out of the blue proclamation by our MPP. Since then, much has been left unsaid by this MPP and council. Now Councillor O’Sullivan says, “soon, we will host another group of human beings in our community..”; what does ‘soon’ mean?

What caring benefit accrues to the human beings to be “hosted” in the Eastern Ontario Correctional Centre? There is no public bus service for day parolees. There is limited hotel and motel accommodation for families/visitors. If only 235 people are incarcerated, many for just short periods, will the millions expended be a sensible expense, added to the destruction of historic farmlands in our community? After the Covid isolation we continue to live through, people are prizing social interaction, friends, and family. Why isolate people in a community that failed the Ontario Solicitor General’s Department criteria for placing this EOCC in North Grenville? 

At this point of reading Ms. O’Sullivan’s article, more question marks arise around the further claim by this Councillor: “I will also commit to advocate for my fellow taxpayers in North Grenville…I believe that there will be financial benefits to our municipality in the form of more jobs, more business opportunities, and more spending at our existing businesses.” 

Is it time to have progressed from the realm of believe to planned, since our MPP announced this project? What specific financial benefits, jobs, businesses have been concretely identified? Promised?

Ms. O’Sullivan also states, “I also support the transfer of surplus lands to the Municipality of North Grenville for agricultural and community use”. What is the definition of surplus lands? Who agreed to the definition? 

Quite rightly proud of getting to host the 2022 International Ploughing Match and Rural Expo, the Mayor and Council cite all sorts of benefits to North Grenville from this important event. But this land is to be, shortly after this event, in large part put under a prison! The land the prison will not sit on is then defined as “surplus” and will be deeded to North Grenville? That is what led to the moniker “surplus land”. Obviously I disagree. Do you?

An alternative vision for these lands was quashed by the Ontario level. That vision was never debated with facts, figures, outlines in and for this community. There is a need for future food security being identified by all sorts of experts! Arable farm land in Ontario is being built on at an accelerated rate. Our North Grenville farmland is a heritage jewel that offers opportunity for an agricultural heritage to be modernized and revolutionized to create jobs and fulfill the Green aspirations of our community.  Why is our MPP Steve Clark, our Mayor and Council, and the Solicitor General of Ontario and Premier not more open to the review of this prison placement? If logic and good management of resources are part of their talents, I believe they would all and each agree to a fundamental review. Or perhaps my hope is misplaced? What do you dear reader think?

In closing, I include a quote about the 2022 International Ploughing Match and Rural Expo from the North Grenville website: “We are absolutely thrilled to be hosting the 2022 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo that will showcase North Grenville, and highlight our historic agricultural roots,” said Mayor Nancy Peckford. “The International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM) is a five-day celebration of agriculture and rural living. This historic event – celebrating over 100 years – is a collaborative effort of the Ontario Plowmen’s Association and its local committee – and attracts tens of thousands of people from across Ontario, throughout Canada, the United States and beyond.”

Could this event be a chance to have an expanded profile and future in the Agriculture Economy of Ontario? Is it time to review the prison project as an aberration from the history and aspirations expressed in North Grenville? What do the residents of North Grenville think? 

Best wishes,

Nadia Gray

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