Now that the elections are over, can we hope that the new Council in Kemptville will attend to an urgent outstanding matter, namely the proposed construction of a prison adjacent to the beautiful campus of Kemptville College?
I would like to remind councillors that the Province of Ontario has not fulfilled the requirements for the construction of new provincial buildings, i.e. that it has failed to abide by established Provincial Policy Statements under the Planning Act. The applicable Provincial Policy Statement was issued under Section 3 of the Planning Act and came into effect on May 1, 2020. It replaced the Provincial Policy Statement issued on April 30, 2014. The proposed prison was announced in a general way in June, 2020 (money for upgrading existing prisons and building new ones) and the proposed Kemptville prison on August 27, 2020.
The prison would be built across the road from the present Kemptville College Campus, on the farmland, outbuildings, arena and heritage barns that were previously part of the College. The Campus site was purchased by the Municipality, while the Province refused to sell the farmside and still owns it. The farmland would be paved over, the buildings razed to make way for the proposed correctional complex. Local people who are opposed to this plan have been arguing that the 182 acres of prime farmland are a non-renewable resource which should be kept in agriculture. Razing the buildings that took millions of dollars to build would be a dreadful and senseless waste. They are sorely needed in order to develop any kind of agricultural projects on the 200 plus acres of farmland now owned by the Municipality on the Campus side, and which are sitting in limbo.
The Coalition Against the Proposed Prison group has asked the courts for a Judicial Review (JR), financed by a Go Fund Me, on the grounds that building this prison is illegal because it contravenes the official provincial and municipal plans, and need for consultation. The Province is doing all it can to stop the JR in its tracks.
Lack of consultation with the local population and the established policies of the Municipality (Section 6(2) of the Planning Act) which protect farmland are issues that must be addressed before this proposal goes any further. Will the new Council have the courage to stand up to the Province and demand correct procedures before irrevocable steps are taken?