BROCKVILLE — Opponents of the proposed plan to build a new provincial prison on farmland in Kemptville, Ontario are taking their message to the constituency office of local MPP Steve Clark at noon today (Friday, October 15, 2021.)
In a press release, they complain that the Ford government decided “behind closed doors” to build a correctional complex on the former Kemptville Agricultural College farm property.
The Municipality of North Grenville picked up much of the former college property in 2018 — after the University of Guelph but hasn’t been able to acquire the farm portion of the campus, which remains under provincial ownership.
“Based on media reports, we know that MPP Clark was aware of the municipality’s interest in acquiring the remaining lands and reintegrating them into the campus almost a full year prior to the provincial government’s surprise prison announcement, a fact that makes his failure to disclose the plan, and advocate on the part of our local government and this community at the cabinet table, that much more striking,” says Colleen Lynas with the Coalition Against the Proposed Prison (CAPP).
CAPP together with the Jail Opposition Group (JOG) are two local grassroots organizations opposing the Queen’s Park imposed Kemptville prison plan who are organizing the Brockville rally.
Kirk Albert from JOG explains a few of the reasons for staging the event: “We want to remind MPP Clark that the residents of Kemptville and the surrounding municipality of North Grenville have a voice, and that our collective voice has been communicating legitimate concerns about all aspects of this proposed prison for over a year now, to which he has distanced himself from. We want to remind him and the Ford Government that as constituents, we are the people that will be directly impacted by this plan, and that continuing to by-pass public consultation and public input is not only dismissive and undemocratic, but it is also not what we expect from our own MPP and other elected officials.”
He asserts, “It is time for the government to admit that mistakes have been made. They need to reconsider their proposed plan rather than heedlessly continuing to impose the prison on a rural town where the government’s own documents indicate that the location doesn’t meet their requirements.”
When the Kemptville prison was announced by the Ford government, the premier and MPP Clark claimed the project would bring jobs to the town, but the opponents dispute that claim.
“After the announcement, we looked into these claims and consulted leading prison experts,” explains Victor Lachance of CAPP. “The touted economic benefits for our community have been proven false and all signs point to an increase in property taxes, and undue strain on our local infrastructure, healthcare, and other resources,” he adds.