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 or you can attend a presentation at Planning Committee today at 6:30pm at City Hall.
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
Request for an Exemption to the Noise Bylaw
Fleet Maintenance Facility
A few weeks ago Money Sense magazine released their 2018 ranking for the best cities to buy real estate, and this year Kingston is rated the 5th best city in the Canada for investing in a home or rental property. When comparing cities, the Money Sense survey looks at a variety of factors that measure both the strength of the local economy and the rental market. Their assessment this year is that Kingston is one of the best places to invest in the country based on value for dollar. With housing becoming less affordable in the Greater Toronto Area, it’s clear that more potential home buyers and investors are looking at Kingston.
This is good news for the community, because it reflects both the growth in our local economy and the fact that more people are attracted to Kingston as a great place to live. At the same time, this buzz about Kingston means that there will be added pressure on our housing supply, and it’s vitally important that we increase the supply of housing in order to meet growing demand. Kingston already has the lowest rental vacancy rate in the province at 0.7%. If we don’t have more housing soon, the vacancy rate will drop further. The affordability of living in Kingston is a major advantage, and we must build more if we are going to avoid the big spikes in housing prices that occurred in the GTA.
Kingston offers a tremendous quality of life, and with the recent success we’ve had attracting new companies to the city, the interest people have in moving here has only increased. You can read more from the Money Sense article at http://www.moneysense.ca/spend/real-estate/top-cities-canadian-real-estate-2018/ but it’s clear that the conditions in Kingston are right for exciting new growth in our city. Let’s make sure that all present and future residents can find an attractive and affordable place in Kingston to call home.
This week City Council approved a naming rights agreement for Kingston’s premier downtown arena and entertainment centre. As of July 1st, the Rogers K-Rock Centre will become the Leon’s Centre. The name change will take some getting used to, but it was fantastic to see a lot of interest from businesses looking to attach their name to this facility, and congratulations to Leon’s for putting forward the winning offer!
Under this new agreement, Leon’s will pay an average of $265,000 per year over the next five years to have their name on the facility, with an option to extend for an additional five years after that. This is a substantial increase over the current naming rights fee, which will provide a great boost to the annual bottom line for the arena.
A few months ago we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Rogers K-Rock Centre, and what an amazing ten years it’s been. There have been so many great shows, hockey games and sporting events over the years, and the facility continues to win awards and is a real showcase for Kingston. There’s no doubt that this facility has been a catalyst for tourism, development and a vibrant downtown. Years ago I remember following the big debate about the centre which was then known as the Large Venue Entertainment Centre (LVEC), and how fortunate for our city that former Mayor Harvey Rosen and the City Council of the day made the project a reality. Now it’s hard to imagine Kingston without it. Congratulations to the Rogers K-Rock Centre on a great 10 years! I look forward to attending many more events at the Leon’s Centre in the future!
A key part of the smart city vision for Kingston is to position our community as a leader in how we use new technology to improve the quality of life for our residents. In a recent survey on smart city activities, Kingstonians overwhelmingly identified a caring, equitable and connected community as their most important priority for a smart city. Imagine, for example, how we could use technology to help seniors live better at home, and help seniors get around the city easily, safely and more efficiently. Imagine how technology could be used to combat isolation, help seniors stay engaged in the community and facilitate new connections with younger generations of Kingstonians.
All of these ideas are part of Kingston’s Smart City Challenge proposal, a pitch that we have made to the federal government showing how Kingston is positioned to be a national leader in social innovation with a focus on developing technologies that will foster a healthy, resilient and engaged community. More details about Kingston’s Smart City proposal will be available in the coming weeks but here are three pilot projects that are part of our city’s plan:
– Partner with the Canadian Frailty Network, Queen’s University and St. Lawrence College to develop and test health-focused sensor technologies and analytics in Rideaucrest Home;
– Work with IBM to use state of the art cognitive computing and predictive analytics to match retired residents with young people to provide mentorship for employment and career development;
– Use sensors and wearables to develop the best possible transportation options for seniors and their families based on their individual mobility condition and where they need to travel to in the community.
Kingston has long been one of the most attractive retirement destinations in the country. Now, as the country grapples with the implications of an aging population, I believe our city has a tremendous opportunity to pioneer innovations that will advance the quality of life for all senior citizens in Canada.
This weekend I have the great privilege of cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of the Rideau Heights Community Centre. This is an amazing new facility that marks another key step forward in the rejuvenation of the Rideau Heights neighbourhood. It’s been exciting to see the momentum of change and renewal in this area of the city over the last few years, with the construction of the new Kingston Community Health Centre facility, the state-of-the-art St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School, and the city’s biggest skate park in Shannon Park.
Now we have a brand new community centre in the heart of Rideau Heights, and what’s even more important than the building is the programs and services that will be offered to kids, families and seniors in the surrounding neighbourhood. The Boys and Girls Club, the Seniors’ Centre, and Loving Spoonful will be offering a variety of different programs in the community centre, in addition to the new library, a gymnasium and other community space.
The rejuvenation of the Rideau Heights neighbourhood continues to be a high priority, and work has already begun on the next phase of redevelopment around Headway Park. As shown in the concept drawing above, we’re looking at putting in a new street, a new playground and a shift to more mixed income housing in the area. Finally, with the construction of the Third Crossing moving ahead, there will be more opportunities to revitalize the Montreal Street corridor and unlock further development potential in the north end of the city. I’m so glad to see real progress and revitalization in Rideau Heights and look forward to continuing to move this initiative forward together.
This week construction officially begins on the expansion of Kingston’s airport. With the final design complete, work is now proceeding on both the extension of the existing runway and the renovation and expansion of the terminal building. When I ran for mayor back in 2014, the expansion of the airport was an important part of my platform and I’m very glad to see this project moving ahead. This expansion is a critical first step towards improving air transportation to and from Kingston.
As the work begins on the physical infrastructure of the airport, the city is also working to develop a market study that will give us the information we need when discussing air service improvements with Air Canada and other potential airline carriers. Several years ago a study found that more than 90% of air travelers in this region drive to other airports like Toronto or Ottawa rather than flying out of Kingston. That suggests an enormous opportunity for airlines to do business in Kingston if airlines make the right improvements to their service. There are also great opportunities for related industries in Kingston because of the pressures faced by Toronto’s Pearson airport, which won’t be able to handle the future growth in Southern Ontario air traffic on its own. This means a future where regional airports like Kingston can play an important role, which will bring new economic development opportunities.
If Kingston is going to be a globally connected city we need to make sure it’s easy for tourists, business travelers and residents to get to and from Kingston, whether by air, train or car. There is lots of work ahead to make that happen, but by the time the airport expansion is completed later this year, we will have taken a big step toward this goal.
Our motto in Kingston is that we are the city ‘where history and innovation thrive.’ One of the best examples of history and innovation thriving is when an old, deteriorating heritage building is given a complete facelift and transformed into residential, commercial or community space. In the same spirit as the Woolen Mill, the Tett Centre and Portsmouth Town Hall, the next exciting transformation slated for Kingston is the old Imperial Oil building at the base of North Street on the edge of Doug Fluhrer Park.
At this week’s City Council meeting, Council formally approved the necessary heritage permits to allow ABNA investments to proceed with the much needed repairs and rehabilitation of the old limestone warehouse. While the 9 North Street building is an important remnant of the city’s industrial past, it’s also literally falling apart after sitting empty since the 1960s. The plan is to completely renovate and restore the building so that it will house a number of one and two bedroom apartments, adding a much needed boost to the city’s housing supply and located a short walk from downtown.
This is an exciting time of renewal for Kingston’s Inner Harbour with the new K&P trail, planning underway for a new and improved Belle Park, and a proposal under consideration to redevelop the Davis Tannery site. There’s no doubt that a state-of-the-art residential development situated in a beautifully restored heritage building will be another tremendous addition to this area of the city.