Taking a Stand against Racism in our Community

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One of the things I enjoy most as mayor is attending the many cultural events across our city, and celebrating the increasing diversity of ethnic and racial backgrounds in Kingston. I really believe that our city’s future prosperity depends on our ability to attract and welcome immigrants from all over the world. These are the human connections that enrich our community and help us towards our vision of being a leading, globally connected, 21st century city.

But to create that welcoming environment we must also be willing to confront negative words and attitudes as they arise. Last month there was a very disturbing video circulating on social media of a black woman in Kingston being victimized by racial insults. At this week’s City Council meeting, we heard from her sister about the damage and hurt these words have done to her and her family. I was reminded of stories my wife Shyla shared with me about the difficulties she faced as an Indian growing up in a small town where she was one of the only non-white students in her entire school. As a Kingstonian, I don’t want anyone to face those same difficulties here in our city.

As Mayor of Kingston, I want to state emphatically that hatred, discrimination and insults based on a person’s race are absolutely unacceptable in our city. Eliminating racism is a community wide effort and will take all of us working together. Council passed a motion reaffirming the city’s stand against racism but it’s also a call to action for the entire community to speak out when we hear a wrong word, a wrong joke or a judgment based on someone’s race.

We also need greater public awareness and education to combat racism. Towards this effort the city in partnership with several community organizations will launch a survey to collect input on how residents see and experience racism and discrimination. The responses collected will help us design an anti-discrimination and anti-racism awareness campaign for Kingston. I encourage you to visit the city website next Tuesday August 15th at www.cityofkingston.ca/city-hall/get-involved  so that together we can build a community that embraces diversity.

From the Mayor’s Chair – August 8

From the Mayors Chair

Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 2 minutes!

The August 8 Council meeting began with a motion for City Council to reaffirm the city stance against racism in the community. The motion asks staff to review existing policies while at the same time sending a wider statement to the community that hatred, discrimination and insults based on race are unacceptable. Last night Kingston also passed a motion in support of VIA Rail’s proposal to improve and expand rail service in Kingston and the surrounding area. With this motion Council expressed its official support for VIA Rail’s request for funding from the federal government. Finally, Council approved the transfer of land in the east end for Habitat for Humanity to build new affordable housing in that part of the community. It will allow for the construction of four new townhouses.

Watch the August 8 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE

Proposed VIA Rail Expansion in Eastern Ontario

VIA Rail Map

Part of making Kingston a leading 21st century city with a global impact means ensuring it’s as easy as possible for people to travel here. To attract visitors, businesses, researchers, entrepreneurs and future residents, we need strong transportation links for planes, trains and automobiles.

That’s why I’m fully supportive of VIA Rail’s proposed expansion of rail service in Eastern Ontario. The core of this plan is a new passenger dedicated rail line, and although this new rail line won’t run through Kingston, the overall effect on our city’s rail service will be significant. With this new rail line Kingston will be transformed into a regional hub for rail service in Eastern Ontario. Kingston is currently a midway stop between Toronto and Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, and that means limited train schedules. Right now you can’t catch an early morning train from Kingston to Ottawa or a late evening train from Toronto to Kingston.

However, with Kingston as a regional rail hub, trains would start and end here, meaning far more convenient train schedules. For example, if you are in Kingston, you could catch an early morning train to Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal and then catch an evening train back. If you are in Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal, the same options of early morning and late evening trains would be available. Whether coming into Kingston or leaving, travel options by train would be significantly better.

In order for VIA Rail’s proposed rail service expansion to move forward, federal government funding will be required. The expansion of convenient rail travel for Kingston and Eastern Ontario will provide a viable alternative to travelling by car, which makes sense both economically and environmentally. And so I am happy to add my voice to the many other municipal leaders across Eastern Ontario trying to make this new rail service a reality. 

From the Mayor’s Chair – July 11

From the Mayors Chair

Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 2 minutes!

The July 11 Council meeting began with the proposed vision for the future of Kingston Pen and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour – the product of 18 months of community consultation. After several hours of debate and discussion, Council formally approved the vision. Next Council approved a pilot project that will give residents the option of paying for parking downtown with a smartphone. The project will be introduced later this year. Finally, Council approved a new plan that will close a portion of Napier Street to traffic next to 671 Brock Street creating a pedestrian lane between Churchill Park and the new park land slated to go on the site of the old St. Joseph/St. Mary Catholic School.

Watch the July 11 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE

Council Approves Kingston Pen/Harbour Vision: What Happens Next?

Final Recommended Vision

This week City Council approved a vision to guide the future development of Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. As shown in the image above, the vision calls for a continuous shoreline pathway and full public access to the waterfront. On the city-owned harbour side, there will be lots of green space, views of the water and space for sailing competitions and other community events. On the federally-owned Kingston Pen side, the northern part of the site will be preserved in its current state (including the prison walls) to maintain the huge tourist draw that we have seen over the last two years. The southern half of the site will allow for new construction and the re-purposing of some existing buildings, bringing enormous potential for creative redevelopment.

With the vision approved, the work now begins to implement it. That will involve working out details such as the road network and parking, while the city also develops necessary bylaws to protect the heritage buildings on site. There will be a lot of technical planning in order to get the southern half of the KP site ready for redevelopment, as Canada Lands Corporation (CLC) takes the lead towards the eventual sale of the KP property. On the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour side, the city will move full speed ahead to plan a new marina building and a revitalized harbour.

I want to take a moment to thank city staff, CLC staff, the consulting team at the Planning Partnership, the members of the community working group and the many hundreds of Kingstonians that participated in this visioning process over the last 18 months. There’s a lot of work ahead, but because of your efforts we now have a road map towards an exciting future for this signature piece of Kingston’s waterfront.

KP-POH

Kingston 150: An Amazing Weekend of Sesqui Celebrations Ahead!

Kingston Sesqui

This week a whole team of city staff, community groups and tourism partners are busy preparing for a Canada Day weekend to remember! As Canada’s first capital city and the home of our nation’s first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, there is no better place to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday than here in Kingston. I’d like to invite all Kingstonians to join us! Here are a few of the highlights to watch for:

Friday 10pm: Join me for the official launch of the new City Hall lighting system, where we will light up City Hall with a Canada-themed motif for the weekend.

Saturday 11am: Join me at the downtown Metro parking lot for the annual Red and White people parade. Come dressed in red and white and be a part of the biggest Canada Day parade we’ve ever had as we march down Princess St to City Hall.

Saturday 12pm: Our annual Civic Ceremony is a great chance to show off our pride as Canadians and to recognize this year’s civic award winners and a number of other special guests who are coming to Kingston to celebrate Canada’s 150th.

Saturday 1-6pm: Lots of things to do in a festival atmosphere downtown, including a vintage ferris wheel, musical performances, wagon rides, inflatables and lots of other great family friendly activities.

Saturday 10pm: The absolute best fireworks display in Kingston’s history, best viewed from Confederation Basin in front of City Hall.

There are many other great activities running throughout the weekend including musical performances on the Sesqui Stage at City Hall, Artsfest Kingston in City Park, and free admission to the Pump House Steam Museum on Saturday. Kingston Transit will also have express bus routes and an expanded service schedule on July 1 to make it convenient to get around the city. I hope you’ll join me for what will definitely be a Canada Day to remember!Canada Day

Introducing a Bike Sharing Pilot Program in Kingston

Dropbike

This week City Council approved a pilot program to test Kingston’s very first bike sharing service! This pilot program will run throughout the summer and into the fall. Soon you’ll be able to look for distinctive orange bikes set up at a number of locations in and around the downtown.

So how does it work? To use this bike share you’ll need to download the Dropbike app on your phone and set up an account with a deposit. When you want to take a bike for a ride, you just scan the code on the rear of the bike to unlock it. The bike is then yours to ride at a low cost and once you’re done you take a picture of the bike with the app on your phone (to verify its condition and location). One of the most innovative features of this service is that it is a “dockless” system, so the City doesn’t need to invest large amounts of money building docking stations or hubs where the bikes are kept. In this case there is no cost to the City at all.

This pilot program is a good way to test the market to see how well a bike sharing program would work in Kingston. As a city we are working to promote active modes of transportation, and we are making a number of investments in trails and cycling lanes that make it more enjoyable and convenient to get around town on a bike. Having some bikes located at the base of the K&P trail, along downtown Princess Street, or at Breakwater Park could be great for those looking to explore our beautiful city!

To learn more about how Dropbike works check out this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLwegm-c3II

From the Mayor’s Chair – June 20

From the Mayors Chair

Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 2 minutes!

The June 20 Council meeting began with a presentation from the startup company Dropbike on a pilot program for a bike share service in Kingston. Council approved the program so soon the distinctive orange bikes will become available around the city. Council also approved a new public education campaign to prepare for next year’s referendum question on ranked ballots. Voters will be asked whether they want to change the way that Mayor and Councillors are elected. The campaign will focus on providing the public with information on a ranked ballot system so they can make an informed decision next fall. Finally, Council passed a motion to rename the existing P.U.C. dock in Breakwater Park to “Gord Edgar Downie Pier”.

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

My Letter to the Whig re: Pride Festivities in Kingston

June 19, 2017

Dear Editor,

RE: Downtown Awash in Pride

To begin, I would like to congratulate Matt Salton and his team for their efforts in organizing this year’s Pride festivities in Kingston. Matt has been a strong and passionate advocate for our city’s LGBTQ community and I would like to thank him and many others in our city for their commitment and leadership over the years.

My purpose in writing today is to address concerns about a perceived lack of support from the City of Kingston. I know that I speak for all of City Council in saying that we fully support our LGBTQ community. Our vision is to embrace and promote diversity in our community, and to stand against hatred, violence and discrimination based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. As per Council approval, the Pride flag was flown throughout last week up at Division and Princess St. and was raised in front of City Hall on Saturday.

I was unable to attend Pride on Saturday because it was Father’s Day weekend, and I was with my family in Newmarket as we honoured my Dad’s memory after his passing last June. I would like to thank Councillor Jim Neill for attending and ensuring City Council representation at Pride.

Please rest assured that both City Council and the City as a whole remain steadfast in our support for the LGBTQ community and we look forward to working together in the future. Last year I had the privilege of speaking at the vigil in Springer Market Square in honour of the victims of the horrific shooting in an Orlando nightclub. I would like to repeat today what I said at that time. It is a sad truth that there are still many places in our world today where people are subject to hatred, violence and discrimination because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Here in Kingston we are committed to modeling a better way; where tolerance, respect and love prevail.

Sincerely,

 

Bryan Paterson
Mayor

City Council Approves the Third Crossing! What Happens Now?

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After 50 years of community-wide debate, last night’s council vote was one for the history books. Wrapping up two full nights of questions, discussion and deliberation, City Council voted 8-5 to approve construction of the Third Crossing. I’m so excited to see us move forward with a bridge that will connect the city’s east end and north end, unifying our community in an incredible new way! I truly believe this bridge will benefit Kingstonians across our community, both west end commuters and east end residents. The Third Crossing will ease traffic congestion in the downtown, and it will help to revitalize the north end. This was a momentous vote that paves the way for a project that will have a lasting impact for decades to come.

The one condition council set out is that all of the funding from upper levels of government must be in place before the city will proceed with construction.  The financial plan approved by council will allow us to build the bridge without raising property taxes, but that requires the provincial and federal governments to each cover 1/3 of the total $180M cost of the bridge. With last night’s vote, the city has committed its 1/3 share of $60M towards the bridge (of which $30M will come from property taxes and $30M will come from fees paid by developers). And earlier on Tuesday, we heard the exciting news from Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca that the province is on board with its $60M investment in the Third Crossing.

That leaves just one piece remaining; a commitment of $60M from the federal government. While there is still more work to be done to get this last share of funding, here’s the exciting part: Kingston is no longer alone in its push to secure federal funding. The provincial government will now be working with us to get the federal share and finally put shovels in the ground.

Our federal MP Mark Gerretsen is a big supporter of the Third Crossing and he has committed to fighting for this last $60M that we need for the bridge. It sends a big signal that both the province and the city have committed to the Third Crossing and momentum is really starting to grow. So stay tuned, but I for one am looking forward to a new 21st century bridge for a leading, innovative 21st century city!