by Mayor Nancy Peckford
Months after the announcement of a provincial correctional facility on the site of the old Kemptville College lands, Council has received more clarity on some key items that have been of significant concern to the community.
In particular, the Municipality and the Ministry of the Solicitor General are moving towards a shared understanding of the potential for community-driven agricultural initiatives on some of the surplus land that the Ministry will likely not use.
“As we have stated since the beginning, the news of a Correctional facility on the old Kemptville College lands came as a complete surprise. However, the reality is that the province has full ownership of the 180-acre parcel of farm-side lands and has the correct zoning (Institutional) for their proposed use. They do not require our permission to proceed,” Mayor Nancy Peckford noted.
Mayor Peckford added that the Municipality’s focus has been ensuring that the EOCC does not undermine community safety or place a burden on taxpayers.
In a letter dated June 10 from the Deputy Solicitor General, Deborah Richardson, which is now posted to the North Grenville website, the Ministry confirmed their commitment to pay for infrastructure needed for the Correctional facility, including the servicing of the land for water and sewer, and any related road upgrades that would be required.
Deputy Mayor Jim McManaman said, “Council has been adamant, and the Ministry has been clear, that the infrastructure costs will be theirs to bear.”
During stakeholder sessions with all four school boards, the Ministry said their objective is to locate the facility as close to the 416 as possible in order to pursue an “appropriate setback from the existing roads, schools, daycares and community path.”
The potential loss of agricultural land and buildings has also been of concern to residents. The Deputy Solicitor General has now formally acknowledged that there will be surplus lands that are not required for the proposed Correctional facility, and that the Ministry:
“will make best efforts to work with the municipality and MPP Clark on opportunities regarding the use of the lands that will not be directly used by the facility, such as the municipality’s vision for community-driven agricultural and related initiatives”
Mayor Peckford said the Ministry’s acknowledgement is an opportunity for future possibilities.
North Grenville will be the host of the International Ploughing Match in September 2022. Activities will take place on the lands owned by the province, as well as the Campus lands owned by the Municipality.
An organizing committee chaired by Harry Bennett, with representatives from the Grenville Ploughmen’s Association, is now preparing to host up to 80,000 people for North America’s most popular annual agricultural event.
Finally, the Deputy Solicitor General agreed to a follow-up engagement session with the community later in 2021. It will follow a similar format to the one that was held in November 2020.
“Council is eager for the next community engagement session so that the channels of communication remain wide open with the Ministry when it comes to the next steps for this project. Issues like cost-recovery for OPP billing, consultation with indigenous groups, the environmental assessment process, the tendering timelines and site preparation definitely remain on our radar,” said Mayor Peckford.
“Council appreciates that the Ministry of the Solicitor General and MPP Steve Clark have been highly responsive and engaged since the announcement, and that they have been diligent in answering questions and addressing some key community concerns. We still have a long way to go when it comes to this facility which will not be operational before 2027, so the ongoing dialogue is absolutely key.”