Calling for a By-Election in Countryside District

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Next week City Council will make a very important decision on how we will select a new councillor for Countryside District. The City Clerk has presented us with 3 options: appoint the 2nd place finisher from the 2014 election, appoint another member of the public through a nominations process, or hold a by-election.

Since former councilor Richard Allen announced his resignation late last month, I have heard from many residents, from both Countryside and across the community, about which of the options they believe is the best. After careful consideration of all points of view, and reviewing the latest information from city staff, I will be asking Council to support a by-election to elect a new councilor.

This is by no means an easy decision for me, because a by-election comes at a cost of $150,000 and it is the option with the longest time frame (the Clerk has provided timelines indicating the election cannot occur until mid-May). However, there are significant reasons why I believe, despite the time and cost involved, a by-election is the best option.

  1. The new councilor must have a clear mandate from Countryside residents. Although there will be only a year and a half remaining in the council term by the time this new councilor is elected, there will be several big decisions in that time frame, on issues as the Third Crossing, the future of KP and the Wellington Street extension.
  2. The councilor for the city’s primary rural district should be chosen by rural residents, and not by other councilors who represent urban areas of the city. The rural area of Kingston is distinctive, and Countryside residents are best suited to choose a representative that reflects their views and priorities. A strong majority of Countryside residents that I have heard from have asked for a by-election to choose their new councillor. As the current interim councilor for Countryside district, it’s important for me to advocate on their behalf.
  3. A by-election is the most transparent option for selecting a new councilor. Candidates who choose to run in the by-election will need to inform residents where they stand on key issues and what they aim to bring to the council table. While the legitimacy of a council appointment could be debated, there will be no question as to the legitimacy and the mandate of the winner of a by-election.

I take very seriously the expenditure of $150,000 on a by-election. This is a significant sum of money, but, the fact is democracy comes with a cost. I think we can all agree that supporting a transparent and truly representative process will be money well spent.

China Trip a Great Success

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Our Team Kingston trip to China was a great success! The team included board members and staff from Kingston EDO, Queen’s University, the County of Frontenac, Utilities Kingston and the Ontario Agriculture Ministry. Together we met with company officials to enhance our relationship with Feihe and made important business and political connections.  

Our businesses connections and positive relationship with Feihe has already sparked interest from other companies interested in expanding to the Canadian market. Although I cannot yet share any details, I am pleased to share the exciting news of another company moving to Kingston to do business with Feihe.

As Feihe gets ready to break ground this spring, and open the facility in 2019, we need to be ready with a supply chain that can support the business. Our trip was about understanding operations so we are ready as a community to support Feihe and maximize economic benefits for our city and the surrounding region. We had the opportunity to tour Feihe facilities, cow and goat farms, deepen our understanding of supply chain management and technical requirements for their existing plants.

I’ve received questions about expenses for the trip, each participant covered the cost of their airfare and hotel. 

My expenses totaled $4,391.38  

  • hotels = $1,426.14
  • travel (airfare and travel to Toronto)= $2,557.69
  • meals = $83.80
  • Chinese visa application fees = $323.75

The trip expenses will come out of the travel and conferences line of the mayor’s office budget. As this trip was at the invitation of Feihe, they covered the cost of the majority of meals and ground travel in China.

Building New Connections: Kingston and China

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This week I am very excited to be forging new links between Kingston and China. Over the last few days I have been travelling with a Canadian delegation to visit several of Feihe International’s facilities in preparation for the company’s launch here in Kingston. Our trip to date has taken us from Beijing, to Qiqihar and to Harbin in Heilongjang province in Northeast China.

Last month Feihe representatives were in Kingston to announce plans to locate their North American base of operations in our city with the construction of a 300,000 square foot infant formula processing and research facility. This new operation represents a $225 million investment that will create 200-250 manufacturing and research jobs and over 1,000 more indirect jobs in the local economy.

This week I am in China to strengthen the city’s relationship with Feihe and to meet with the company’s chairman, trade commissioners and companies within Feihe’s existing supply chain. I am also touring their existing facilities to better understand the opportunities for existing Kingston based companies to partner with Feihe, which will create even more economic benefits for our city and the surrounding region. Later this week I will also be heading to one of Feihe’s goat farms, to understand the potential expansion in goat farming that we could see in Eastern Ontario to supply Feihe with goat milk for their infant formula processing.

The larger vision around this week’s trip is to build connections between Kingston and China. Members of our local Chinese community were a key part of Team Kingston’s approach to showcasing why our city was the right location for Feihe. I firmly believe there are now opportunities to reach out to other Chinese firms looking to invest in North America, and to show them why Kingston would be a great choice for them as well.

It’s been an exciting week so far, and I’m looking forward to sharing more information about our new partnership with Feihe, and opportunities for partnerships with China when I get back to Kingston.

An Exciting Year Ahead in 2017!

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First of all, Happy New Year Kingston! For my first post of 2017, I’d like to share a quick preview of what I see as the key city issues and events on the horizon for the coming year.

Defining the Future of Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour: the current visioning process will be completed early in 2017, after which a final concept plan will come to City Council for approval. This will set the stage for specific development proposals to come forward, while tours of KP continue to draw thousands of visitors to Kingston this coming tourism season.

Decision Point on the Third Crossing: this coming spring City Council will receive the preliminary design as well as updated cost and benefit information that will make the proposed new bridge across the Cataraqui River officially ‘shovel ready.’ At that point Council will be ready to decide whether to proceed with construction of the bridge, contingent on funding from both the provincial and federal governments.

New International Businesses Take Root: this year we look forward to the grand opening of operations for Portugal-based Frulact and the ground breaking of China-based Feihe’s production facility in Kingston. These new international business partners will bring hundreds of jobs to the city and create many new economic development opportunities for Kingston and the surrounding region.

New Trails and Waterfront Investments: Later this spring we will officially open the urban section of the K&P trail in time for Canada’s 150th birthday. The city will also revitalize Richardson Beach and construct a new waterfront pathway behind the Pump House Steam Museum as a first step for the new Waterfront Master Plan.

The Breakout Project: Innovate Kingston invites innovators and creators to converge on Fort Henry May 10 -12th in a competition to develop new ideas and help brand Kingston as a centre of innovation. More information at www.thebreakoutproject.com

Sesquicentennial Celebrations: As Canada’s first capital city, Kingston will be playing a key role in Canada’s 150th festivities, as we celebrate not only our past role in Canada’s history, but also the future. Learn more about Sesquicentennial activities happening in Kingston by visiting the city website at www.cityofkingston.ca/explore/sesquicentennial

 

From the Mayor’s Chair – December 20

Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 3 minutes or less.

Highlights from the December 20 Council meeting included approval of exploring alternative uses for Belle Park which will include public consultation before the 2018 season, approval of a motion to explore a partnership with the west-end Boys & Girls Club to deliver recreational programming, and Council passed a motion declaring the Countryside District Council seat vacant and asked staff to report back on options, timelines and costs for filling the council seat. 

Watch the December 20 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE

From the Mayor's Chair -

For previous From the Mayor’s Chair segments visit the media tab at the top of this website 

Thanking Councillor Allen for his work

As mayor, I want to take this opportunity to thank Councillor Allen for his dedication to representing the people and interests of Countryside District. He has become a strong voice at council and his leadership and ability to consider all sides of an issue will be missed.

In his time on council, Richard worked to raise the profile of rural businesses and advance Kingston priorities as a board member for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

Although we are sad to see Richard leave the Council horseshoe, we wish him well in his new position and his growing family.

In terms of next steps, I would like to see us move quickly to fill the vacancy and representation for Countryside. My number one priority is to have as little disruption to the residents of Countryside as possible.

I have consulted the City Clerk about the process for filling a vacancy on Kingston City Council. As a first step, I will be bringing a motion to council tomorrow evening to formally declare the Council seat for Countryside district as vacant. The motion will also request that city staff provide a report back to council on January 24th outlining the process for filling a vacant seat, according to the Municipal Act.

Based on preliminary discussions with staff, I understand the Municipal Act provides three options for filling a vacant seat;

  1. Fill the vacancy by appointing the individual who received the second highest number of votes for councilor of Countryside District in the 2014 municipal election.
  2. Fill the vacancy by an appointment process, allowing any interested and qualified person to submit an application for appointment to council.
  3. Fill the vacancy by holding a by-election in the Countryside District.

I look forward to receiving more information about these options from staff so that Council can make an informed decision and act quickly to fill the vacant seat.

In the interim, I invite residents in Countryside to contact my office directly with any issues or concerns until their new councillor is set in place. Residents can contact my office at mayor@cityofkingston.ca or 613-546-4291 ext. 1400.

From the Mayor’s Chair – December 6

Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 3 minutes or less.

Highlights from the December 6 Council meeting included Council support for Innovate Kingston’s Breakout event set for May 2017, Council approved a plan to support the relocation of the Alexander Henry to a new home in Thunder Bay and Council endorsed the continued relationship with Correctional Service of Canada and the St. Lawrence Parks Commission for the continuation of Kingston Penitentiary tours for the 2017 tourism season

Watch the November 1 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE

From the Mayor's Chair -

For previous From the Mayor’s Chair segments visit the media tab at the top of this website 

KP Tours Re-Launched in 2017

Earlier this week I was thrilled to announce, after an incredibly successful 2016 season, Kingston Penitentiary tours will continue for 2017! The KP tours this past summer were a huge catalyst for tourism in Kingston, helping to make this the biggest year for tourism in our city’s history.

In total, the KP tours welcomed over 60,000 visitors, brought over $5 million in economic benefit, and more than $300,000 for our local United Way. Next year promises to be even bigger and better, with tours running 7 days a week from May to October. This means even more visitors coming to Kingston and an even bigger boost to our tourism sector.

I cannot say enough about the amazing partnership that the City of Kingston has formed with both the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) the St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC) to make these tours a reality. With CSC opening the doors of the KP site and SLPC taking care of running the tours, both of these great organizations have demonstrated their incredible vision and commitment to our community.

Looking ahead to 2017, we can anticipate not only a great season of KP tours, but also the results of the current visioning process that will lay the foundation for the future of the Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour sites. There is tremendous potential for some exciting redevelopment on these properties and, in my view, there is no doubt that tourism should be a key part of the future for Kingston Penitentiary.

Announcing one of the Biggest Economic Development Deals in Kingston’s History

Today I am absolutely thrilled to announce one of the biggest economic development deals in our city’s history!

Feihe International has selected Kingston as their Canadian base of operations, investing an enormous $225 million in Kingston! With this investment Feihe will be opening a state-of-the-art 300,000 square foot  processing and research and development (R&D) facility on 40 acres of land in the Cataraqui Estates Business Park, located in our west end.

Feihe International is a China based producer of infant formula, known for their technologically advanced manufacturing facilities producing high quality infant formula for North America and Chinese markets. Once constructed, their processing and R&D facility will create 200-250 good paying manufacturing and research jobs in our community. In addition, we expect that over 1000 indirect jobs will be created through the economic impact of their operation here in Kingston. And this impact will extend well beyond Kingston into the entire Eastern Ontario region, as Feihe plans to establish an entire local supply chain of dairy and goat milk producers.

To help put this news into perspective, this represents one of the largest foreign direct investments in Canada, and it is happening right here in Kingston. I especially want to thank and congratulate KEDCO on their tremendous work over the last number of months bringing this deal to Kingston. KEDCO and city staff were instrumental in showcasing why Kingston was the right choice for Feihe International.

Right now the plan is to have a shovel in the ground by next spring, which alone will create 400 construction jobs over the next 2 years as Feihe’s facility is constructed. I look forward to building relationships with our new Chinese business partners and friends, so that we can explore further economic development opportunities from China and help put Kingston on the map globally!

Celebrating Kingston’s Nobel Laureate

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A key part of my ‘smart and livable 21st century city’ vision is to establish Kingston as a global city, to define Kingston as a leader not just in our region, but nationally and internationally. As mayor I am continually amazed and inspired by the individuals and organizations in our community who are recognized for their work not just at a local or provincial scale, but on a global scale.

A perfect example is Queen’s University professor Dr. Art McDonald, winner of the 2015 Nobel prize in physics. To have someone in our community win the most prestigious scientific prize in the world should instill tremendous pride in all Kingstonians. Dr. McDonald’s achievement is an inspiration to all of us, that through hard work and creative thinking we can all have a global impact, both collectively and as individuals.

To celebrate Dr. McDonald’s achievement, I would like to invite all Kingstonians to special public lecture by Dr. McDonald entitled ‘Neutrinos, Nobel and the Nature of the Universe’. The lecture will be held in Memorial Hall in City Hall on Wednesday December 7th at 6:30 p.m. The lecture is free, to register by e-mail at register.neutrinos@queensu.ca or by phone at 613-533-6000 ext. 77623

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