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Proposed Kemptville Prison Opponents Ask Court to ‘Drop’ State Plan

Court filings allege that the government “disregarded” state policies, including “protections and guidelines for the protection of agricultural resources.”

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Opponents of Kemptville’s proposed prison are battling it out in court to overturn the state’s decision and “crush” plans to build a prison in the community.

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Kirk Albert and Victor Lachance, who have been vocal opponents of the prison construction plan since the government’s surprise announcement two years ago, held judicial review Monday of their decision to build the Eastern Ontario Correctional Facility on 180 acres of prime farmland. applied to the court. Formerly owned by Kemptville College.

The August 2020 decision was taken in violation of several government policies that set “strict guidelines about when and how non-agricultural uses can be placed on key agricultural resources,” it said. Stéphane Emar Chabot, a lawyer representing Albert and Lachance in the division, said: court application.

Court filings allege that the government “disregarded” state policies, including “protections and guidelines for the protection of agricultural resources.”

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Émard-Chabot said the land was designated for agriculture under the North Grenville Municipality’s official plan and that the state’s decision should be made “with respect to regional planning.”

Court filings also accuse the government of making the decision to build prisons without sufficient consultation with the local community.

“In deciding to build a prison on farmland in Kemptville, the Attorney General essentially ignored state policy statements and in doing so exceeded his legal authority,” said Emaar Chabot. He said at a press conference outside the courthouse.

The 235-bed complex is currently scheduled to be completed in 2027, and the government has previously said the facility will help ease pressure on the aging and overcrowded Ottawa-Carlton Detention Center.

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Attorney General Michael Kerzner’s office said Monday it could not comment on the specific cases currently in court, but Kerzner said, “We are working with residents, local governments and partners at the Department on this important issue. I look forward to continuing to engage…

“We are proud of the steps the government has taken to strengthen our justice system from top to bottom,” the department said. It also includes modernizing facilities,” the ministry said. said. “The proposed correctional facility will be the most modern and efficient facility in the state, with a particular focus on rehabilitation.”

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Opponents of the prison say Kemptville’s 4,000-person community lacks the infrastructure and support services necessary for its inmates, and lacks access to public transportation to Ottawa, to house modern prisons. has long argued that it is not suitable for

Legal challenge filed by prison opponents declares decision to build EOCC in Kemptville “violates state policy statement and violates secretary general’s duties” under Ontario’s Planning Act It asks a panel of three judges to do so.

Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Sylvia Jones was serving as Attorney General when the decision was announced. Kurzner was appointed her successor in June.

“We are asking the court to confirm the illegality of the decision…to invalidate or overturn the selection of the Kemptville site and to issue a restraining order prohibiting the construction of a prison at this location.” I am asking the court to do so,” said Emaar Shabot.

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Albert said the government has not lived up to its commitment to transparency throughout the process. The department hosted several open house sessions early in the process, but Albert cited a number of Freedom of Information requests that have since been denied or returned with significant redactions.

Monday’s court filing lists 13 such claims filed so far this year that have either gone unresolved or dismissed.

“Our questions weren’t answered,” said Albert. “Questions regarding the process and criteria for site selection, advertised economic benefits, tax implications, infrastructure requirements, due diligence results…after two years, we are puzzled by the lack of response from the local authorities. , I’m disappointed.”

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Albert outlined the site selection process, although one of the documents the group obtained was heavily redacted, and said that the proposed Kemptville site would have several advantages, including distance from OCDC and lack of public transportation. It said it had determined that some categories did not meet the government’s own standards.

Lachance called the prison proposal a “poorly thought out” project.

“Paving arable farmland, bulldozing existing historic buildings to build prisons that no one wants, and building prisons that experts say we don’t need. You can’t justify that,” said Lachance.

Émard-Chabot said he expected any ruling to have broad ramifications for ministerial “borders,” and lawyers acknowledged that there was little legal precedent for this type of challenge.

“Since the duties imposed on ministers have not been tested in court to this extent, we are entering uncharted legal waters here and really asking the courts to set the boundaries of what ministers can and cannot do. he said.

“This case is about testing those boundaries, which applies to all state decisions, so that’s a big deal.”

The Attorney General’s Office has 30 days to file an intent to challenge the request for judicial review.

ahelmer@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/helmera

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Proposed Kemptville Prison Opponents Ask Court to ‘Drop’ State Plan

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