A proposed correctional facility in Kemptville, Ont. has some residents concerned about how it might change the look of their small town and they are taking steps to prevent it from happening.

Two residents of the small town just south of Ottawa, Kirk Albert of the Jail Opposition Group and Victor Lachance of the Coalition Against the Proposed Prison, have filed a judicial review to stop the jail from being built.

“All we’ve asked for right from the start is, ‘What is the process, and did you follow it?’” says Albert. “Public safety has not been one of the primary drivers in this. It really has been mostly about the inconsistencies, the lack of consultation, the lack of information, for fundamentally basic things.”

They say many residents, community organisations and agri-food groups have been frustrated, saying there has been no meaningful consultation about the prison plan.

The Office of the Solicitor General says in a statement, “The proposed correctional complex will be the most modern and efficient facility in the province, and will have a special focus on rehabilitation.”

Residents were told that this jail could bring roughly 500 jobs to the area. Albert disagrees.

“Most correctional staff that are already working at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre would simply be transferred to the Kemptville site,” says Albert. “Therefore, very few net new job opportunities.”

Lachance says the area doesn’t meet criteria for a new jail, but the mayor says it does.

“I can confirm that, from a zoning perspective, the proposed use of the site for a correctional facility is permitted, which is ‘institutional’. We are taking every opportunity to ensure an open dialogue with the community with respect to information sharing and public engagement,” says North Grenville mayor Nancy Peckford.

“They did not even follow their own policy statements, which is why we have brought this application for judicial review,” says Lachance. “So the tribunal can agree with us and issue a prohibition order.”

The groups against the prison say they just want to make sure the land is used as it was initially intended.

“We save the farmland and we go back to using it the way the municipality envisioned using it as part its tourism strategy, an equine centre, community gardens, possibly a research centre,” says Lachance, “which was in the works.”