Get Engaged! – Draft Public Engagement Framework

draft-engagement-framework

You often hear me talk about the vision for Kingston as a smart and livable 21st century city. This vision aims to move our community forward in all areas, key among them the relationship between City Hall and Kingstonians. I strongly believe promoting and fostering transparency, accountability and participation are key to building a smart and livable city. Within the Council priority to foster open government is a commitment to engaging residents. I am thrilled to see progress on this priority this week with the release of the draft Public Engagement Framework for community input.

The draft Public Engagement Framework lays out key principles of how and for what purpose the public can and should be engaged. Specifically, the framework outlines;

Realistic expectations for engagement

  • The purpose of public engagement is to ensure that all voices are heard and taken into consideration when decisions are being made. Even though all points are considered, final decisions made by Council may not always satisfy everyone who participated in the engagement process.

An approach to planning public engagement programs

  • The draft framework is built on the understanding that public engagement is not a single process, but instead has various levels of engagement based on characteristics of individual projects or initiatives. Not all projects require the same level of engagement and the draft framework helps to determine the engagement techniques based on individual projects, their complexity and timelines.

Tools and techniques

  • Given that engagement will look different for different projects there are a range of tools and techniques. Based on the level of engagement, from information sharing to empowering the public to engage in decision making, techniques can range from public signage, newsletters, open houses, and surveys to focus groups, working groups and referendums.

Implementation and communication of public engagement programs  

  • Communicating the engagement plan is important to the success of public engagement; communications plans are separate and will be created to accompany engagement plans. Also critically important is the need to follow-up with those who participated by sharing the recommendations or decisions made, the reason for the recommendations or decisions and how the public input was used.

 

How can you get involved?

  • Visit CityofKingston.ca/GetInvolved to review Kingston’s draft Public Engagement Framework
  • Provide your input on the Framework through an online survey, open until March 10.
  • Provide your feedback in writing, anytime, by e-mailing LetsConnect@cityofkingston.ca
  • Join the open house on March 8 from 4 to 7p.m. at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour.

The draft Public Engagement Framework is important to the future of how the City will seek your input. I encourage you to review the document and have your say. I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts!  

Watch: 2017 State of the City Presentation

Each year the Mayor of Kingston is invited to deliver a “State of the City” address at our local Rotary Clubs. This is an important touch point to let Kingstonians know the progress being made and what’s ahead in the coming year.

Thanks to Station 14 I am able to share with you this video of the 2017 State of City presentation, as presented in full, from February 14, 2017.

Watch the presentation here by clicking the image below

state-of-the-city-2017

If you are interested in having me present at your association, organization or club please connect with my office at mayor@cityofkingston.ca 

A New Vision for the Old Nortel Property

This week City Council formally approved official plan and zoning changes to allow for a complete redevelopment of the old Nortel industrial land next to the Rio Can Centre on Gardiners Road. This 100 acre property has been dormant for many years, but finally there is a plan to transform the entire site into a mix of residential and commercial development.

On the residential side, the new development will include single family homes, townhouses, three high rise apartment buildings, and include a number of apartment units geared to seniors. On the commercial side, there are plans for a new grocery store, convenience store, restaurant and other retail stores. As part of the overall redevelopment of the site there will also be two public parks and potential space to allow for a new school.

This redevelopment within our urban core fits with the vision to make Kingston a smart and livable 21st century city by including a variety of housing options, commercial conveniences, green space and active transportation. The future residents in this area will be able to walk to the Rio Can Centre for shopping, they will have easy access to Kingston Transit express bus routes, and the city will see a sizeable increase in tax revenue as the land is converted from a vacant industrial lot to a thriving neighborhood in the centre of our city.

From the Mayor’s Chair – February 7

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 February 7 Council meeting include discussion and approval of the City assuming the operations of pathway lighting along the waterfront walkway at Commodore’s Cove on King Street West. Council also approved a zoning change for 700 Gardinders Road, located next to the RioCan Centre, from industrial to residential and commercial to allow for the redevelopment of the property.

Watch the February 7 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

 

“Everybody was in it from miles around…”

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In a very special opening of this year’s Feb Fest celebrations, I was joined by The Tragically Hip band members Rob Baker and Paul Langlois to officially unveil the Hip commemorative stone in Springer Market Square. This new addition to Market Square pays tribute to a night Kingstonians will always remember, August 20th, 2016, the day when our city came together to support and celebrate Kingston’s hometown band.

A few days after the concert Ben McLean, from local radio station BigFM 96, threw out an idea on social media; why not commemorate this incredible event with a special stone in Market Square? It was a great idea and several months later the stone has been set in place. Thank you Ben!

The unforgettable evening was captured perfectly by the Hip lyric inscribed on the stone, located at the corner of King and Princess, ‘Everybody was in it from miles around…’ from Hip song Blow at High Dough. That August night more than 25,000 people filled Market Square, joining fans inside the Rogers K-Rock Centre and the millions of Canadians across the country. It was a national celebration and a moment we won’t soon forget.

I’m sure that in the months and years to come, countless visitors and residents of Kingston walking through Market Square will stop at this stone and reflect on what an incredible moment it was in our city. To me, this stone is the city’s way of saying thank you. On behalf of the City of Kingston, to all the members of The Tragically Hip, thank you. Thank you for your music, thank you for the memories, and thank you for all you have done over the years to support your hometown.

The video below, shown for the first time after the stone was unveiled, does a great job capturing the incredible atmosphere in downtown Kingston that evening.

hip-stories-of-kingston-video

Finding Better Solutions than an Interim Control Bylaw

There has been a lot of discussion and debate at City Council over the last month about whether or not to impose an interim control bylaw (ICBL) in the neighbourhoods around Queen’s University and St. Lawrence College. There are real concerns in these areas of the city about conversions of family homes into expanded student housing, and an ICBL has been proposed as a way to prevent any further conversions for the near future.

However, an ICBL wouldn’t just stop the conversion of family homes into student housing developments, it would also block just about any other type of development in the area. In fact, over the last week I have heard concerns from residents, tradespeople, church groups and affordable housing agencies, all of whom would be prevented from proceeding with developments to their properties under an ICBL, even though their developments are unrelated to student housing.

That’s the big problem with an ICBL; there is no ability to target the specific types of development that are of concern to the neighbourhood, while at the same time allowing all the other positive types of development to continue. This creates enormous collateral damage and is, frankly, unfair to other residents and property owners in these parts of the city. I am convinced that there is a better way forward on this. We can find more targeted solutions that will unify our community rather than create divisions and tensions in the way an ICBL proposal has. I am very pleased that as a result of last night’s debate, Council has  directed staff to explore other options, which will include looking at best practices from other cities with large post-secondary student populations.

I remain convinced that one of the best ways to protect family neighbourhoods in the downtown is to encourage and incentivize more apartment style housing in areas of the downtown that need redevelopment, such as the Williamsville corridor on Princess Street. At the end of the day, we will probably need a combination of different policies and partnerships, but we can get there. Our post-secondary students are an enormous asset to our community, and by working together we can ensure that families and students can co-exist and thrive together in our community.

From the Mayor’s Chair – January 24

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 January 24 Council meeting include discussion on a proposed  interim control by-law calling for a freeze on most development in the neighbourhoods around Queen’s and SLC. The discussion resulted in Council passing a motion asking staff to explore other options, there will be a public meeting in March and a staff report back to Council with recommendations on next steps. Council unanimously voted to hold a by-election to fill the vacant Countryside District council seat, the by-election will be held May 15, 2017. And Council approved a new partnership between Queen’s University and the City of Kingston to promote more innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development.   

Watch the January 24 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

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.  

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

map-of-china

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.