KEMPTVILLE — The proposed provincial prison to be built at the former Kemptville College grounds is facing ongoing opposition from a small but feisty group of local residents.
A group calling itself the Coalition Against the Proposed Prison organized its second public forum by Zoom on Feb. 2 to oppose the Ford government’s planned 235-bed single-cell occupancy correctional facility on 182 acres that would include minimum, medium and maximum-security prisoners for both male and female inmates. The proposed site includes the location of the former dairy farm and A.M. Barr Arena where Holstein shows were held for years. The prison would be across the road from the main campus that now houses at least two schools and a day-care.
Coalition spokesperson Colleen Lynas describes the proposal — announced in August 2020 — as “ill conceived.” The group’s main concern is that the town of 4,000 was not consulted and that the community would lose its small-town charm as soon as the prison is built on the south-end of town. Lynas offered during the Zoom session that the province does not believe the majority of local residents are against the prison. She argued “there are a large number of people” opposed and says her group has a contact network of more than 140 people. Another group started a petition against the prison at change.org and had 695 signatures by Feb. 15.
Lynas told Farmers Forum that the Ministry of the Solicitor General reviewed more than 100 properties and has not given reasons for choosing the former college farmland. She also argued that independent research “shows that jails built in small towns suppress economic development.”
The local municipality of North Grenville does not oppose the prison, while the province argues that it is putting to good use unused surplus property.
Said Ministry of the Solicitor General spokeswoman Kristy Denette: “Building the new Greater Ottawa Correctional Complex on this site provides good value for taxpayers as we are reusing surplus property, avoiding the need to purchase private lands in the Ottawa area.”
Construction has yet to start but the completion date is 2027.