A short while ago, CAPP and JOG, the two groups representing our community fighting the decision to build a 235‑bed jail facility here in Kemptville, won a court case against the Ford government when it tried to dismiss the judicial review application challenging the process it used to build the jail here. The case now gets decided by a judicial panel, but unhappy about the two groups’ more recent attempt to get more information about the province’ decision to build here, the Ford government is now trying to bankrupt the group by sending them an invoice for $15,000 to cover their legal costs, in contravention of a previous agreement that neither group would do that.
This jail site didn’t meet several of the criteria laid out by the government. We don’t have a public transit system, neither do we have a courthouse, (that is now affordable housing), neither do we have any counselling services for the inmates. When looking to replace the Ottawa Correctional Center, which initially, was meant to be at a single location, rather than the 3 locations now currently proposed, the consultant for the Solicitor General’s office specifically stated that the Kemptville location was not suitable. The Solicitor General’s office then changed the search criteria to be along highway 416 and changed the distance from the OCC to the potential site to 70 km., from 40 km. Why south? You could be forgiven for wondering why they didn’t choose any of the other 3 directions that were available. You could also wonder if the then Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing might have had something to do with that, having already had another such facility being built in his riding. So, after all the work done on the old plan, they changed course completely, and tossed it out. Your tax dollars at work.
After all this time, Ford, ex‑minister Steve Clark, the Solicitor General, and Infrastructure Ontario have stonewalled any attempts to get the information that was promised in “an open and fair” process. Freedom of Information requests have largely been ignored. Steve Clark has consistently dodged any attempts to discuss this proposal with the community. Even our own North Grenville Municipal Council has been exactly nowhere on this, not even questioning why they chose Kemptville, when there was so much of the Ford governments own criteria not met. All they did at the time was to parrot the provincial governments own rosy picture of the economic value of having this facility here, and which they said will be at no cost to the taxpayer. Both statements have been thoroughly debunked.
So here we are today, with the community facing the cost of another court case, and a very real threat of essentially being fined for having the temerity to point out not only the flaws in the process, but the complete lack of any “fair and open” dialogue promised, and asking why Kemptville was chosen, when the site didn’t meet the governments criteria.
This is all just another example of the Ford government just doing whatever it wants to do, with all the accompanying skullduggeries. You must wonder if it has any moral or ethical compass.
Colin Creasey, Kemptville