From the Mayor’s Chair – June 26th

From the Mayors Chair

Miss Council last night Kingston?

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

Additional links: 

Council agenda 

Former Prison for Women – Potential Re-development 

St. Lawrence College/City Partnership and Request for Funding 

Motion asking staff to explore local options to deal with the problem of waste associated with single use plastics (pg. 18)

Facilitating Future Redevelopment of the Former Prison for Women Property

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At our June 26th council meeting, City Council will be asked to approve a plan to allow for future redevelopment of the Former Prison for Women property. This is exciting news and I for one am thrilled by the new vision for a site that has sat idle for over a decade. ABNA Investment Ltd. has expressed an interest in purchasing and redeveloping the property, but this will require help from the City.

One of the big challenges to redeveloping the site is the existing heritage designations which currently cover not only the exterior of the Prison for Women building, but also a lot of the interior features that were specific to using the building for a prison. That means that in order to repurpose the building for something other than a prison, the City, in collaboration with the Heritage Kingston committee, will need to review these interior designations to provide more flexibility for redevelopment. There is also some environmental contamination on the site, so the City will need to offer some assistance in cleaning up the contamination through the Brownfields program.

This is a great opportunity to facilitate an exciting redevelopment of this property, and I will be urging my City Council colleagues to support these measures at our next council meeting. The potential for a new residential development on this site will also help to address the housing shortage we are currently facing as a community. Fortunately at this same council meeting, we will also have the chance to approve another housing development along the Williamsville corridor, shown below.

Podium Development

Kingston currently has the lowest rental vacancy rate in the province and as a result we’re already seeing large increases in rental housing rates and overall house prices. It’s so important that as a city we encourage more development to ensure that everyone in our community can find an affordable place to live. New housing in Williamsville and at the former Prison for Women property will be an important step in the right direction.

Addressing Unsanctioned Street Parties in the University District

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This week Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf and I announced a new approach to address large, unsanctioned street parties in the University District during move-in week, Homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day. These events put a big strain on the City’s emergency services and health care facilities, and they also put community and student safety at risk. There have been several instances during these parties where people could have been seriously injured or even killed, and that’s why the City of Kingston, Queen’s University and Kingston Police are moving forward with a new initiative to address these safety concerns.

The University District Safety Initiative is a pilot program targeting unsafe and disruptive behaviour. People who are charged in the University District for certain offences during move-in week, Homecoming weekend and St. Patrick’s Day and any offence under the Nuisance Party Bylaw will be issued a summons to appear in court. Individuals charged will be required to appear before a Justice of the Peace in Kingston, regardless of where they live, and will not have the option to pay their tickets online or by phone. The goal is to have individuals take responsibility for their actions in person.

In addition to the court process, cases involving Queen’s students who receive tickets will be assessed as part of the university’s student conduct system, which is context and case-specific. Consequences are based on the nature of the harm done and its impact, and may include loss of privileges, community projects, conversations with community members, formal warnings, restitution and/or peer education initiatives.

To be clear, this initiative is not about targeting students, it’s about addressing high risk behaviour and conduct. We continue to welcome and embrace post-secondary students as our own, and we look forward to the energy and vitality they will bring to our community once again this fall. From the city’s perspective, this new approach will apply equally to residents and non-residents, students and non-students. Everyone in our community should have the same rights and be held to the same standards.

As we move ahead, I look forward to working in partnership with Queen’s administration, the AMS student leadership, Kingston Police and members of the community, to build a community that is welcoming, but also safe and respectful for both students and residents.

A New Look for Belle Park

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Over the last few months community and staff have been hard at work developing a new concept for the future of Belle Park. Last year City Council made the decision to close the existing golf course and look at how the space could be transformed into a mix of sporting facilities, green space and a trail system for walking and cycling. The graphic above shows one potential layout for Belle Park, with a pitch and putt, a new sports field clustered around the clubhouse, the existing driving range, and the rest of the green space set aside for natural parkland.

The biggest change for Belle Park is this shift to a naturalized park. When the golf course was in operation, only about 25% of the park was left in a naturalized state. Under the new plan, the majority of the park (approximately 65%) would be naturalized. I believe this is the best change for this park. It makes this unique urban green space accessible to everyone, and with an easy link to the new K&P trail it’s just a short walk or bike ride from the downtown.

In the coming weeks staff will review feedback from the public and make final changes before the plan moves to City Council for approval. With the vision for renewal and growth in the neighbourhoods around Belle Park, I’m sure this green space will be enjoyed by countless residents and visitors in the years to come.

Welcoming Visitors to Kingston with New Wayfinding Signs

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This is Tourism Awareness Week here in Kingston and we’re gearing up for another record breaking season. In order to make it easier for visitors to get around the city, this fall we are introducing wayfinding signs at key tourism hotspots and along the waterfront.

These new wayfinding signs are designed to draw people to the waterfront, and to show off some of the amazing views and beautiful green spaces we have along our city’s shores. I believe the strength of tourism in our community comes from the vast array of authentic experiences you can have here – whether walking through the downtown, exploring historic sites or experiencing the natural beauty of the waterfront. The great thing about these signs is that they will help residents and visitors explore parts of Kingston and its waterfront they might not have seen otherwise.

Tourism Awareness Week isn’t just about visitors, it’s also an invitation to all Kingstonians to be tourists in our own city and discover new places. With these new wayfinding signs, we will all be able to explore new spots and enjoy Kingston’s waterfront in a new light.

Strengthening Relationships with Indigenous Peoples in Kingston

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Becoming a smart and livable 21st century city means establishing our city as a leader among cities. That includes leading the way in the journey of reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in our country. Last year I had an amazing experience participating in a talking circle; indigenous and non-indigenous community members sat, listened, and talked together, to better understand and appreciate our different experiences and perspectives.

As mayor it’s exciting to see some of the steps the City has taken towards reconciliation. From meetings with local indigenous leaders and smudging ceremonies, to introducing the First Peoples recognition statement that I read at the beginning of every City Council meeting, we’ve set a strong foundation, and now it’s time to build on that relationship. Here are a few things that I would like to see established as we look ahead:

– Create a community led gathering and cultural space for indigenous peoples in Kingston;

– Support the formation of an indigenous community committee that could work with the City to prioritize new initiatives and discuss issues of shared concern;

– Continue with indigenous-specific cultural training and education to strengthen engagement between the City and our local indigenous community;

– Promote talking circles throughout the community to help foster more communication and understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous citizens;

– Develop specific initiatives to help indigenous youth succeed and thrive in our community.

We are very fortunate to have some incredible champions of reconciliation and relationship building in our community, and it’s been an honour to get to know them over the last few years. As we get ready to mark Indigenous Peoples Month in June, I look forward to building on the momentum that has been created by the Engage for Change initiative. As stated in our First Peoples recognition statement, now is the time to continue our efforts so that our indigenous and non-indigenous communities can walk side by side into the future.

(If your organization is interested in hosting a talking circle, please check out https://www.cityofkingston.ca/explore/culture-history/history/engage-for-change to find more information and learn about potential funding support opportunities.)

A New Vision for the Bailey Broom Factory

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In a city with such amazing history, I’m always excited when old abandoned heritage buildings are restored back to modern use. A few weeks ago I wrote about the proposal to restore and renovate the Imperial Oil building at the base of North Street. This week, a plan is coming forward to the City’s Planning Committee to restore another crumbling heritage building just a short distance away: the old Bailey Broom factory.

This former factory building at the corner of Rideau and Cataraqui Streets is in terrible shape and City Council briefly considered demolishing the building several years ago. However, RAW Design Inc. came forward with a plan to purchase the building and restore it. The required restoration work will be extensive, but the end vision will see this dilapidated building transformed into a great mix of residential and commercial space. The proposed development would see 9 new townhouse units constructed on the north side of the building, while the old broom factory itself would be converted to a unique mix of everything from office space, to a café, artisan workshops and other event space.

This redevelopment is another exciting indicator of the growth and renewal we are seeing across the city right now. With plans to restore the Imperial Oil building and the Bailey Broom factory, clean up and redevelop the Davis Tannery property, and create a new vision for Belle Park, the Inner Harbour in particular should soon become an exciting showcase of urban renewal within Kingston’s downtown core. There’s lots of work ahead of us, but it’s great to see the momentum that’s been created. You can read more about the plans for the Bailey Broom factory here https://bit.ly/2Ip41gJ