Since tours of Kingston Penitentiary began in 2016, the popular attraction for tourists and locals alike has contributed approximately $1.54 million to local youth homelessness initiatives through the United Way.
On the grounds of the historic building that thousands have now toured, the cheque for final installment of 50 per cent of net proceeds from the tours in 2017 was presented to the United Way KFL&A on Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2018. That cheque totalled $421,415.44, and brought total funds donated to the United Way to just over $1.5 million since the tours began. And those funds, which are earmarked to be used towards local youth homelessness initiatives, are already making an impact.
“The good news is: we’re starting to see a measurable difference,” said Fred Godbille, chair or the 2018 United Way Campaign.
“As a result of some of those initiatives, we’re seeing the proportion of youth homelessness drop in Kingston, so I think that’s great news.”
Godbille was joined by representatives from Correctional Service Canada (CSC), the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, and the City of Kingston for the cheque presentation. The Kington Penitentiary (KP) tours are the result of a partnership between those three parties, a partnership that not only allows the public a chance to see behind the limestone walls of one of the country’s most renowned buildings, but also gives back to the community.
“When CSC began to consider the disbanding of operations here at KP, I don’t think we imagined the possibilities entirely of what could be done with KP and with its presence in the community,” said Scott Harris, regional deputy commissioner for Correctional Service Canada.
“It is an absolute delight that we’ve been able to, through some very visionary leadership and some continued hard work on the part of all the partners involved in this, make it possible for KP to continue to benefit the community, even now as it’s closed for operations, in such a significant way.”
Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson also praised the efforts of the City’s partners for making the Kingston Penitentiary tours such a success.
“I find it hard to find the words to express how important the Kingston Penitentiary tours have been to our city, what it has done to tourism in this community, what it has meant to draw people in and to be able to give people a chance to see behind the walls and experience this incredible place that has been part of Kingston for many, many, many years,” Paterson said, noting that it was due to the creative thinking of those with CSC and the St. Lawrence Parks Commission the tours ever came to be.
“To have something like this, a tourism asset that funnels money to the United Way so that we can fund the programs for youth in our community so they can be successful, so they can thrive, so they can build successful careers, and so they can be future leaders in our community: What an incredible, incredible set up we have here.”
For those who have yet to see behind the big stone walls that once housed some of Canada’s most infamous criminals – from Clifford Olson and Wayne Boden to Paul Bernardo and Russell Williams – the 2018 Kingston Penitentiary tours are now open for the 2018 season. Find out more or book tickets go to www.kingstonpentour.com. Kingston residents can take the tour at a discounted rate on Tuesdays throughout the summer.