by Michael Whittaker
The negative impact on property values by the proposed jail on the former property of Kemptville College east of County Road 44 has been frequently cited in articles and online comments. However, I have been unable to find corroborating Canadian sources, nor have links been provided by e-commentators when I have asked for them.
I did not find a comprehensive Canadian list detailing negative influences on property values, but one American source, housely.com, offered some notable results. Jails, prisons, and correction institutions did not appear in the article “10 Industries That Diminish Property Values”, where those industries said to mean no good news for overall home values appear not to be ranked.
At the top came hospitals. I wonder how the neighbours of Kemptville District Hospital are distressed by sirens, traffic on Concession Street, or associated situations, which could concern a major city hospital.
At number seven, a perhaps more valid local concern falls on halfway houses and homeless shelters. The American piece said, in short, they are not ideal for property values, and focused on the negative. Nevertheless, a well-researched brief by the St. Leonard’s Society of Canada on halfway houses affecting property values concluded: “The evidence demonstrates that the presence of halfway houses is not a relevant factor affecting property values in their vicinity. The absence of a negative impact is clear from the research. The potential for a positive impact is interesting, but not conclusively shown. Factors which do affect property values are not dependent on the presence or absence of halfway houses”.
Itemized above halfway houses and homeless shelters were convenience stores with gas bars, funeral parlours, and cemeteries. Five from the first category come to mind, located on, or close to, the County Road 43 strip, which have not been cited as greatly problematical in local media. Likewise, the Kemptville Public Cemetery and the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery have not deterred the adjacent housing construction of recent years. Has the long-established funeral home on Prescott Street, now operated by Hulse, Playfair, and McGary, affected the value of adjacent real estate?
The remaining concerns do not stand out prominently as degrading property values. Thanks to Ontario’s educational standards, regardless of the usual concerns of parents and ratepayers, our schools are not poorly rated, unlike many south of the border. Also, there are no euphemistically named gentleman’s clubs, and no need for a strip club where families and children walk.
We have no power plant emitting toxins. North Grenville’s Waste Transfer Station is not a reeking dump prone to contaminating groundwater. There is no shooting range; although the discharge of firearms in our rural area has been known to concern some residents.
Turning to the Los Angeles Times: In the late 1980s, a 6,191-inmate, maximum-security jail was proposed for Orange County, California. An environmental impact report prepared for the County Board of Supervisors revealed crime rates are lower, and property values have risen faster, in some communities with correctional facilities than in cities without them.
The environmental impact report reviewed government, private, and university studies from Florida, Wisconsin, Alabama, California, and Canada to state: In many cities, areas adjacent to prisons are flourishing with housing, business activity, shopping, and recreation. In nearly every case studied, the values of the properties within three miles of the prison had risen more than the properties in the same communities farther away.
Not surprisingly, the Citizens Committee for Logical and Sensible Siting of Jails did not agree.