by Willem Van Dam
As a voting citizen in the community of North Grenville, I wish to express my concerns regarding the placement of a corrections facility in our community. In addition to the concerns regarding the presence of a detention centre, is the concern that the local leadership of North Grenville have not protested loudly and vociferously against the imposition of the detention facility by the Province, nor lifted a finger to provide effective channels for the community to raise its objections. Nor has our MPP Steve Clark. Needless to say, it seems the citizens who would object to the “jail” are “on their own” to publicize their concerns and objections.
Historically, this provincial riding (Leeds Grenville Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes) has been home to three prisons , Brockville Jail, St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre (Brockville), Rideau Correctional and Treatment Centre (Burritts Rapids). Burritts was originally a minimum security “farm prison”, where inmates often just walked away from the facility. During its later years, Burritts was changed to a maximum security facility with 354 beds, as witnessed by the higher fences, razor wire and other security features that housed mostly sex offenders and drug addicts. Burritts closed in 2004, the inmates were moved to Lindsay Ontario (2016 population 20,713) into a new correctional facility built in 2002 with a capacity of 1,184 beds. Lindsay now ranks in the top 12% of cities across Canada for incidence of sexual assault (2018 data).
What should Kemptville residents deduce from this? Once the Province builds a jail, it can change the class of jail and its inmates at any time, as well as increase the number of inmates. This has already occurred in Lindsay. With 180 acres at its disposal, Ontario Corrections can increase the size of the jail immensely, as the Kemptville location has the largest landholding of all the jails in this riding. Brockville, with a population of 21,854 in 2016 will have a “penal bed” capacity of 191 under the new proposal. Kemptville, with a 2016 population of 4,000, is to house a 235-bed facility, at least for now. Napanee (2016 pop. 7440) is home to the Quinte Detention Centre, with a 228 bed facility.
From the Ministry of the Solicitor General “Adult Correctional Institutions” report pg 18: “To deal with occupancy pressures, we found that the Ministry has increased the capacity of 16 of the 25 institutions by an average of 81% more than the original capacity when they were built, by adding beds in cells. For example, in 2018/19, Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre had a 518-bed capacity – 178% higher than its original 186-bed capacity. In 12 of the 16 institutions, the increased capacities were not due to expansion of the institutions, but to placing more inmates in cells together”.
Ontario has 124 provincial ridings and 25 adult detention centres. This riding is the only riding with three adult prisons in the past, and is now being imposed with a third prison (again). Steve Clark could argue that this riding will actually have two prisons, for the two locations in Brockville will become amalgamated on one site with two buildings, under one name. This riding should not be imposed with a “third” prison while the majority of ridings have none. We do not care about the provincial “super plan”. Build the prison someplace else!
Macleans magazine publishes “Canada’s Most Dangerous Places to Live” index with a list of 237 locations. Being number 1 is not a good thing! North Grenville was rated 230 out of 237. Stormont Dundas Glengarry rated 158/237. But guess some other locations that placed up in the list: you guessed it! Small communities that are home to Ontario jails!
Some schools, daycares, etc. and their distance from the prison:
École élémentaire publique Rivière-Rideau, 900 metres; Académie catholique Notre Dame, 750 metres; North Grenville Co- Operative, 750 metres; Kemptville Family Resource Centre, 1.4 km; South Branch Elementary, 1.6 km.; North Grenville District High, 1.8 km.
The Kemptville hospital will also witness increased use of the hospital and emergency rooms as well as ambulatory services. The Lindsay area is under serviced for doctors and nurses, and the Central East Corrections Centre is as well, as with all corrections facilities in Ontario. The demand on Kemptville’s medical facilities will be increased, so don’t be surprised when you go to emerg. that there are prisoners and guards/police waiting beside you. It seems dealing with the Province is heavy handed, no consultation, and that they do not care about what they impose upon North Grenville. Just as North Grenville is growing occupancy at the Kemptville Campus, this jail location may well reverse that trend.