On June 9, the Rotary Club of Kemptville hosted a meeting aimed at facilitating strategic discussion about the use of surplus farmside lands at the Kemptville campus site. Rotarian Nadia Diakun-Thibault was the host of the meeting, opening with a discussion of the Rotary Club’s visions and values. She then passed the floor to Mayor Nancy Peckford, who provided background information.
The Municipality purchased the Campus in 2018, comprising of almost 630 acres of land, and 17 buildings. However, additional farmside lands were not included in the deal, and remained the property of the provincial government. The province announced in 2020 that some of the land would be used to build a new provincial correctional facility, but discussion remains about what use of the remaining lands would best serve the community of North Grenville. The slideshow which accompanied Mayor Peckford’s presentation identifies a vision for the lands that includes “community green space that supports education, food production, food security, recreation, leisure, economic development, and environmental sustainability.”
Mayor Peckford spoke at length about the potential of the surplus lands. “What can we do from a community driven perspective to really animate those lands, and have them come to life in a way that is beneficial to every resident of North Grenville?” she asked the crowd. Nadia then engaged in a question-and-answer session with Mayor Peckford. One question that stood out was that of the Mayor’s process for selecting which projects will actually be undertaken, once that time comes. Mayor Peckford answered that a process is not yet in place, as the discussion is currently in the “ideas” stage, but that overall, the goal will be to incorporate and blend ideas from various perspectives. Another important question was that of how much the farmside lands projects may cost taxpayers. Mayor Peckford pointed out that the acquisition and maintenance of the lands will cost nothing, and that it is impossible to gauge the costs of individual projects on the lands at this stage. “I don’t think there is a simple way to answer that question in terms of what precisely it will cost,” said Mayor Peckford. “I actually think the flipside of that question is ’what opportunities will it create within the context of a fiscally sustainable model?’”
A relatively crowded room of local residents was present at the meeting, several of whom took the opportunity to ask questions of the Mayor, and participate in the discussion. At the conclusion of the meeting, Nadia presented Mayor Peckford with a Kemptville Rotary banner, and bestowed upon her the title of “Friend of Rotary,” complete with a decorative pin. Also notable at the meeting was the presentation of the Rotary Club’s Paul Harris Fellow titles to Grahame’s Bakery owners Richard Grahame and Debbie Wilson for continued service and commitment to the community. The complete discussion can be viewed at https://youtu.be/xEmnu–6d5w
The meeting hosted by the Rotary Club was not the only time during which the future use of the farmside lands was discussed last week. During the regularly scheduled Council meeting on June 7, the Municipality’s Manager of Corporate Strategy, Hillary Geneau, presented a report detailing the results of a community survey on the issue. Some discussion followed between members of Council, though it was not nearly as in-depth as the discussion at the June 9 meeting hosted by the Rotary Club. Mayor Peckford was absent from the Council meeting discussion, as she was tied up in other meetings. Other routine business was discussed by Council on June 7 during a lengthy meeting which lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours.