by Nadia Gray
As you drive into the entrances to Kemptville on any road, what kind of vista do you meet? Do the words attractive, inviting, well planned, GREEN or people friendly and tourist oriented come to mind? If they do, then I apologize that none of those come to mind for me. Coming home the other day, I sat through several lights on the East-West corridor of Hwy 43, and in any direction I looked there was to all intents a TRAFFIC JAM! Some people do it everyday and weekends.
The plaza closest to the exit from 416 is getting more new stores with strange twisted entrance/exits onto Hwy 43 around the existing Starbucks. Why? Was zoning permission involved in this arrangement? Rd 44 is a major North-South corridor with new development in place or announced on billboards. Already it is a traffic place. What will it be when these new endeavours will be complete?
The South entrance from Rd 44, not yet fallen to developers, is announced to have a prison nearby, but no level of Government has said exactly how close or how far away from the 44 entrance to downtown. Given the zoning hodge podge practiced to this point on the east-west corridor, my confidence is very low that the word attractive will come to mind once the area is developed.
We now will be paying for a Tourism strategy and Officer. The Tourism advertising page for North Grenville is very attractive sounding. The history of the area is interesting, Ferguson Forest is a Community Treasure, we have wonderful heritage buildings and a caring generous community. The information and picture (on the websited) shows the South Rd. 44 entrance to Kemptville Downtown. Well that is the entrance to be irrevocably affected by the placement of a Provincial Prison. Exact details still not released by any level of our Municipal, or Provincial Government.
So dear editor, do you think that zoning bylaws will be changed to help ensure trees and fields will not be felled for developments as just has happened beside the roundabout on Hwy 43 just past Basics? Will there be Green in the regulations for development designs. Will boutiques, outdoor patios, cafes, and benches populate our downtown? The bones of our downtown are historic, do we expect it to be vigorously protected? I think yes! And yet there is doubt.
What has this Mayor and council done to explain what they are discussing and agreeing to with the Ontario level of governance and the unidentified stakeholders? We have owned our house in this area for years. At the beginning a challenging commute to jobs in Ottawa. But we had fallen in love with our house and the small town of Kemptville nearby. This community’s spirit is very strong and caring. In the past, along with five others, it was fun to be one of the originators of The Dandelion Festival and North Grenville Arts and Culture Council (NGACC) and to be Chair for several years. Now as the community has grown, other activities plus Arts and Music Festival events have expanded. The book fair is an example of one of the many pronged events organized by all sorts of groups!
The Community has built a hospital and a library. The charitable activities initiated by the youth, such as Ryan’s Wells by Ryan Hreljec and his brother Jimmy, are inspirations to this community and reach out to the world. If this prison is built, what changes will be wrought to the character of this community?
How can the Politicians who are supposedly our representatives not take our plans and wishes into account? The power they have is supposedly from the electorate. Taking decisions before consultation and consideration simply because they have the Titles of Solicitor General and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is part of having power. But, it is also conferred by The Minister Zoning Orders. MZO. It allows overrides, with no appeal, of what local municipalities have as their plans. That unalterable decision has been invoked for the prison. MZO has existed over several Ontario iterations of Government, but now strengthened by the Ford administration.
And …so I am back to the still attractive South entrance to Kemptville on Rd 44! Should it be changed for a prison because the Ontario Government has said so by just setting aside the future aspirations of our small community? Does this feel right? More to the point, what is aspirational about this unilateral decision for our community?
The prison will be across from or near the Kemptville College campus, nursery and other schools, and our downtown. According to the Solicitor General regarding security details from the One meeting by Zoom, we should feel secure because the prison environs will be patrolled by drones. Not what I think of as a tourist draw. But each of us has their chance to make their voice heard.
If your readers agree that there is a fight to be had against the placement of this prison, then they should please avalanche letters to the office holders and support the efforts of the two opposition groups JOG and CAPP! (They have many overlapping ideologies, but CAPP has a stronger focus on the agricultural land and JOG has a stronger focus on infrastructure costs and tax burden to our residents.)