The inaugural Mayor’s Innovation Challenge is just a couple weeks away, and it’s really exciting to see momentum grow as we approach the final competition. For those who haven’t heard about it yet, the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge is a pitch competition in partnership with Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College and Royal Military College, to see which team of post-secondary students in Kingston can come up with the best, most creative and cost-effective solution to one of three challenges the city is currently facing. As a city we’re looking for the best idea to enhance creative public spaces in underutilized areas of Kingston, to strengthen active transportation networks, or make the city more youth friendly, and all ideas must be possible to implement within a budget of $10 000.
Now, thanks to an unprecedented partnership with the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, there will be TWO prizes to offer! One team of students will be awarded paid internships with the City of Kingston to implement their proposed solution this coming summer, while a second team will be awarded a paid internship through the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI), a leading entrepreneurship program geared to helping students turn ideas into successful new businesses.
This innovation challenge has attracted a lot of attention to date, and it’s been exciting to see the level of interest across all three post-secondary institutions, as many students have come out to workshops to learn how to put forward a great proposal. It’s also been great to see so much interest across the community, including a $10,000 sponsorship from Bell Canada.
Just a reminder to all interested post-secondary students in Kingston that proposals are due next Tuesday, February 20. We will then review all of the submissions and the finalists will be invited to pitch their ideas to myself, a representative from Bell and senior city staff on Friday, March 2. I’m looking forward to seeing some great ideas, and harnessing the creative power of young people in our community!
This week City Council approved the final wording of the question for the upcoming referendum on ranked ballot voting. When voters head to the polls for the municipal election this October, after casting their votes for Mayor, District Councillor and School Trustee, they will be asked the following question:
Are you in favour of using Ranked Ballot Voting to elect the Mayor and District Councillors in the City of Kingston? Yes or No
If the majority of voters say yes to this question, the work will then begin to establish ranked ballot voting for the following municipal election in 2022.
Electoral reform has been a big topic of discussion across the country over the last couple of years, but now the debate will be focused here in Kingston, as we weigh the pros and cons of ranked ballot voting as an alternative to the current first past the post system. In the lead up to the referendum this fall, it will be important for all Kingstonians to first make sure that they understand how a ranked ballot system would work. Here is a short video describing the process.
So is ranked ballot voting better than what we have now? I can certainly see both the advantages and disadvantages to ranked ballots. You could argue that ranked balloting is fairer because it considers not only a voter’s 1st choice, but also how they feel about other candidates on the ballot. On the other hand, ranked balloting is more complex, and also more expensive to implement. I look forward to hearing more from those on either side of the debate and whatever the outcome, I believe that Kingston has made the right choice in letting the voters decide which voting system is best.
This coming spring the city will begin work on an exciting new pilot project that will introduce a number of ‘digital smart kiosks’ around Kingston. These kiosks will have large touch screens that can provide a broad range of wayfinding, educational and tourism information. The kiosks themselves will also be able to offer free Wi-Fi within a certain range, emergency calling features, and even charging stations for your phone!
The kiosk project itself is just one part of a new partnership between the City and Bell Canada to come up with new ways for cities to use new technology in ways that can provide better services to residents and visitors. There are many ways that new smart technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) can be used to make cities run more efficiently, and this new partnership with Bell is about making Kingston into a laboratory to develop and test run these new ideas.
In my view this partnership is exactly the sort of initiative that will put Kingston on the leading edge of innovation in the 21st century. Imagine the potential as our city becomes a hub for developing new city level technologies that will allow us to manage energy use more efficiently, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide more information to residents and visitors in more convenient ways. The fact that Bell has chosen to partner with Kingston is itself a great signal that our city is becoming known as a leader in technology and innovation, and I look forward to welcoming other technology companies to Kingston as we set the standard for what a smart city can be!
One of the important questions facing our community is how to best develop the city’s core in a way that will make our downtown more walkable, livable and vibrant. Last week we invited Brent Toderian, an internationally respected expert in urban planning and design, to give a presentation with a question and answer period here at City Hall. Memorial Hall was packed as Mr. Toderian discussed best practices around intensification. If the ultimate goal is to accommodate more people living, working and enjoying the downtown, what sort of development is best?
Mr. Toderian touched on a number of interesting and exciting ideas, but one point that stood out was his comment that until now the discussion concerning downtown development has focused almost exclusively on building height, and not enough on overall design. In other words, we should be having a broader conversation. We can look at taller buildings but those buildings should be beautiful and they should be designed in ways that build a vibrant streetscape. Attractive architecture, ground floor commercial space, and inviting public spaces for pedestrians are just a few of the design aspects easily overlooked when the only thing we debate is building height.
On this point, I want to commend the City’s planning staff, who have already been working to move the conversation about building design to the forefront. The City’s Official Plan currently requires an urban design study if you want to build a tall building in the downtown. This puts us in a perfect position to really make design a priority; to emphasize the right design features for beautiful buildings and ensure a vibrant streetscape!
Mr. Toderian has challenged us all to reexamine our thinking and to embrace a more fulsome dialogue around future patterns for development. With the lowest rental vacancy rate in the province, there’s no question that we need to build more housing to meet the growing demand. If we want to avoid urban sprawl, we will need to embrace the right kind of intensification and infill developments, not only in the downtown but across the city. I believe we have an opportunity to work together as a community to ensure our city is built in a way that will inspire generations to come!
A program through Sustainable Kingston called The Green Economy Program is helping many Kingston businesses achieve their sustainability goals. Through the program, Sustainable Kingston provides the support and recognition businesses need to start measuring and reducing their carbon footprints. Members gain access to carbon footprinting services, sustainability coaching, and a host of other sustainability resources. I had an opportunity to visit two program members, Kingston’s Tri-Art Manufacturing and Tara Natural Foods.
Rudi, owner of Tara Natural Foods, showed me around his store on Princess Street and took me through the various initiatives he’s implemented to reduce the store’s carbon footprint. One of the most fascinating approaches is the way he manages the store’s temperature. He installed a system that re-circulates waste heat from his refrigeration units. This heat is stored and used as needed. In addition, he uses Energy Bee, an app that gives him the ability to manage temperatures from his mobile device. Not only has this helped Rudi with his sustainability goals, the amount he has saved heating the store is substantial. He also saves on energy by using his lights infrequently thanks to the installation of skylights. In addition to these initiatives, Tara Natural Foods is a zero-waste operation.
I also had the pleasure of touring Tri-Art’s manufacturing facility. This family-run art materials company makes their own labels and packaging. Instead of shipping bulky tubes and bottles from across the world, they instead use small beads which are blown to size in the facility. Within this process they recycle any unused waste material back into production. This in-house manufacturing model reduces inefficiencies in a multitude of ways. Tri-Art also has an elaborate waste-water recycling system. It takes a great deal of water for the production and clean-up of paint materials. Tri-Art recycles this grey water for the cleaning of equipment and conserves a great deal of water by doing so.
Tara Natural Foods and Tri-Art Manufacturing are among many members in Sustainable Kingston’s Green Economy Program. A look at these two local businesses shows how unique each organization is and how each one can employ various measures to reach their sustainability goals. Sustainable Kingston is a great resource, being experts in the multitude of supports available, to help our businesses reach their goals. I’m so glad to see so many of our local organizations leading the way to better our community and our world.
If you know of a fresh or innovative approach being taken by a community group, organization or business, I want to hear about it. Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram by following @MayorPaterson and the hashtag #MITour.
Kingston is officially one of several Canadian cities in the running for the 2020 Curling Canada Brier, and I am very confident that we can win it! Kingston has so much to offer, with a top rated venue in the midst of a premier downtown location. When Kingston hosted the Scotties Tournament of Hearts back in 2013, the feedback that we got from athletes, coaches and spectators was tremendous. Kingston has a thriving curling community and we have a significant team of local volunteers ready to be ambassadors and provide the support needed to have the tournament run smoothly.
At next week’s council meeting, I will be asking all of City Council to support a proposed city contribution to the Brier of $200,000 as well as facility support and transit service. This is a great investment when you consider that the Brier will attract over 130,000 spectators and have an economic impact to the city of anywhere from $11-15 million dollars. This is probably one of the biggest sporting events that Kingston has ever hosted, and what a great way to showcase our amazing city to the rest of the country!
As mayor I am proud to join the community wide effort to bring the Brier to Kingston, and a key piece of this effort is to have as many people as possible put down a $50 deposit to reserve a seat at the Rogers K-Rock Centre to watch the action in person. The deposits are refundable if Kingston doesn’t win the Brier, and the deposits are a great way of showing Curling Canada what tremendous support and enthusiasm there is in Kingston for this event.
You can submit your deposit online at http://bit.ly/2BarbyB, by phone at 1-855-985-5000, or in person at the Rogers K-Rock Centre. You can also get more information about the Kingston Brier Bid at www.kingstonbrier2020.ca. I’m confident in our ability as a community to bring the Brier to Kingston and look forward to welcoming the Curling Canada Brier here in 2020!
Over the next few weeks I have the privilege of giving a ‘State of the City’ address to a number of organizations across the community. This annual presentation is always a great opportunity to update Kingstonians on the latest news, the status of projects, or anything else that’s happening across the city. Here are a few things that I’m highlighting in this year’s state of the city address, as we look forward to an exciting and busy year ahead:
Airport Expansion: shovels will soon be in the ground as work begins to expand the terminal building and extend the runway.
Rideau Heights Community Centre: this new facility is set to open soon, with a whole variety of activities and programs offered for all ages.
John Counter Boulevard Overpass: construction is slated to begin later this year on the overpass over the rail line. This is part of the work to widen John Counter Blvd to 4 lanes between Princess St and Sir John A Macdonald Blvd.
Mayor’s Innovation Challenge: it’s incredibly exciting to see students at our post-secondary institutions jump into this competition. I’m looking forward to seeing their proposals later next month, and awarding the winning team a paid internship with the city this summer!
Belle Park Visioning: following last fall’s decision to close the existing 9 hole golf course, the work now begins to map out the future of this urban green space. Watch for opportunities coming soon to share your thoughts on what should be included in the final vision.
Third Crossing: the current plan calls for final design work to be finished this year, and then shovels in the ground starting in 2019. Of course all of that work depends on securing a $60 million contribution from the federal government. Stay tuned on this one!
Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 2 minutes!
At the January 9th Council meeting one of the big items of discussion was the annual review of the Rogers K-Rock Centre and approval of the 2018 operating plan. Council heard about the projected increase of events in the coming year and about creative uses of the space when hockey games and concerts are not taking place. Last night, Council also approved the first step in the visioning process for Belle Park which includes creating a working group. Finally, Council approved a plan to renovate the washroom and change room facilities at Grass Creek Park.
Watch the January 9th edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE