Published in the NG Times (July, 2021)
It’s always good to go right to the source to get your information. The following are transcripts of two comments I made during the Council Meeting held on June 22, 2021. They are part of the video public record.
[Starts – 01:19:47] Obviously, there are a couple of things I’d like to comment on, and I’ll try and be brief.
Issues of the Justice system and Indigenous rights are really beyond the purview of this Council. We all have our own personal feelings about the Justice system. Mine were formed during a 30-year career of producing educational resources, many of which dealt with social issues like the Justice system. So, I’m very well aware of the deficiencies of how we deal with offenders and how we treat victims of offences in the Province.
And Indigenous rights. Again, I think there’s very little that the Municipality can do other than symbolic gestures. We should really be putting pressure on the Federal government to make good on the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
So, as far as Victor … Victor, I’m surprised. You know, we had a fairly lengthy discussion after the March 23rd Council meeting in which CAPP presented. I note that there’s other people that I had one on one conversations with attending tonight. Marie -Therese, hello. I think in both of those conversations with Marie -Therese and Victor, I was quite clear that when I’m talking about jobs, I’m not talking about jobs that would be filled by residents. I’m talking about employees of the correctional facility. From what I understand the ratio is 2 to 3 employees per inmate. So, if we’re talking 235 beds, I think it’s rather conservative to say 500 employees will be coming into this community.
In speaking, a study might be warranted about the economic impact. I know it’s anecdotal and Victor you might discount it, but similarly, I would discount some of studies that have been touted out about facilities in upstate New York. The American Justice system is very different from the Canadian Justice system. They have their problems; we have our problems but they’re both distinct and unique. So as Councillor O’Sullivan said, I welcome new programming and resources in terms of staff to help the residents of this facility to really turn their lives around.
But again, Victor, 500 or more people coming into this community during daylight hours when our local businesses are ready and willing to serve them – whether its food or gas or repairs or counselling, for example. I think it’s a boon for small local businesses that have certainly struggled through Covid to remain open. In terms of retention and expansion of those local businesses – that create a lot of employment – 80% of jobs are created by small business in this community – I think it is obvious to me. If you want to quantify some of my anecdotal information, you know, it remains to be seen. But I think I’m quite confident that business will be supported, that local businesses will be supported through the building of this facility.
[Starts – 00:38:27] My support for the correctional facility is really conditional on the continued dialogue with the Solicitor General aided by MPP Clark and having constructive positive conversations with them. So that our investment in tourism, in the revitalization of downtown Kemptville, in our economic support for small business isn’t undermined. And so, it remains to be seen how whole-heartedly I would support the correctional facility. It’s really conditional on going forward and how we resolve some these concerns as they are expressed by the community.
The entire streamed video recording of Council Meeting #29 (and others) can be found on the Municipality of North Grenville’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L32t1R00DlA&t=5415s) I would encourage concerned citizens to watch the entire meeting in order to hear, unfiltered, what my Council colleagues also had to say that evening.