The Princess Street Promenade: Downtown Kingston at its Best

princess street promenade 2014

One of the things I always tell people is: I live in the city’s west end, I work in the city’s east end (though now just part-time at RMC), and when I want to relax and enjoy some free time, I head downtown.

One of my favourite downtown events is coming up this Saturday – the Princess Street Promenade! This is the event where Princess Street becomes pedestrian-only and transforms into a sea of residents and tourists shopping, eating and enjoying live entertainment. Not only will your favourite retailers be there, you can explore community organizations and groups sharing what they do and how to get involved.

In my opinion you haven’t really experienced the full vibrancy of Kingston until you’ve found yourself in the middle of a huge crowd of people milling about on our main street on a hot summer day!

So if you’re looking for something to do over the August long weekend, come check out Princess Street Promenade from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Hope to see you there!

Princess St Promenade poster

Secondary Suites in the Westbrook Neighbourhood

This week we’ve heard a lot about secondary suites in the news, particularly revolving around the concerns of Westbrook residents who are seeing lots of secondary suites introduced in their area. So what is a secondary suite? How do they help the housing supply in Kingston? And how can we ensure this policy leads to the right outcomes?

Back in early 2013, City Council approved a policy that would allow residents to create a secondary unit or ‘suite’ in their home without having to obtain council’s explicit permission through a zoning bylaw amendment – a process that is both time consuming and expensive.

The idea behind the secondary suites policy is to provide more affordable housing across our community. For those looking for apartments to rent in a city with a low vacancy rate like ours, more secondary suites provide more rental options. At the same time, a secondary suite provides rental income that makes home ownership more affordable. In other words, secondary suites provide more affordable options and opportunities for both renters and home owners.

In 2013 the secondary suites pilot program was only introduced in the northwest suburban area of Kingston, largely because in other areas of the city there were concerns that adding too many secondary suites might overload the existing sewer system. The vision was to encourage an integrated, gradual expansion in secondary units across this whole area. But in the Westbrook neighbourhood there has been an unusually large and concentrated increase, primarily in new homes that were being constructed with secondary suites already included, transforming single family homes into duplex style homes.

The concerns of Westbrook residents raise important questions for us to consider, such as: Is this what was envisioned for the policy? Should the home owner be required to live at the address where a secondary suite is being built?

I believe in the importance of encouraging more secondary suites as a means to increase the supply of affordable housing in our city. And hopefully the questions raised about in Westbrook will help us get the policy just right before we extend it to the rest of the city.

 

The Kick and Push Festival: Showcasing Innovation in Arts and Culture

The Kick and Push theatre festival is underway here in Kingston and from my experience at the opening night it’s clear that a great new summer attraction has arrived in our city. Attending the launch of Ambrose at the Grand Theatre was my first taste of sight-specific, immersive theatre and it was without question the most unique and innovative theatre experience that I have ever had.

logo - kick and push

Why? Well let’s just say that it was nothing like the normal theatre experience where you watch a group of actors perform various scenes on a stage from your assigned seat. With Ambrose, I was quite literally drawn into the story, interacting personally with the actors while being led around the building from one scene to the next. It was engaging, exciting and surprising!

But what excites me the most is how this sort of innovative theatre adds to Kingston’s vision to be a smart and liveable 21st century city. Our community is positioned to be on the leading edge, not just with technology use and new business startups, but also with innovative arts and culture experiences. In my opinion the tourism potential for this is off the charts. If you have a chance I encourage you to check it out for yourself!

From the Mayor’s Chair

Missed Council but want to stay engaged with the hot topics? Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, a segment with Station 14 where I break down the latest decisions of Council. Watch the July 14 Council meeting edition here:

From the Mayor's Chair - July 14

For an archive of previous From the Mayor’s Chair segments visit the media tab at the top of this website.

 

Comparing KEDCO with Economic Development Agencies in Other Cities

A citizen group called Kingston First (www.KingstonFirst.ca) is calling for more transparency and accountability for the tax dollars that go to KEDCO, Kingston’s economic development agency. They’ve provided data that suggests that a number of other cities in Ontario have economic development agencies with much smaller budgets. Here are my thoughts:

I fully support the approach of comparing Kingston with other similar cities, and seeing how we measure up.  In fact, I’m in favour of making these same comparisons not just with economic development, but with all of our city operations. If another city is providing garbage collection or road maintenance or arena operations with greater efficiency or at lower cost, then let’s learn more about how they are doing it.

While comparing Kingston with other cities is important, we also have to make sure that we are comparing apples to apples. For example, in Kingston we include funding for tourism in KEDCO’s budget. Most other cities in Ontario do not. Once we remove tourism funding, KEDCO’s budget drops by almost 50%, which puts it much closer to some of the other cities included in the analysis provided by Kingston First.

Kingston City Council has determined six strategic priorities for our term, two of which are creating a smart economy and the fostering of open government. Exploring how KEDCO compares is a great opportunity to engage the community and discuss how we can set a new standard for economic development in the province and beyond.

I invite you to join the conversation.

There’s Nothing Like Canada Day in Kingston

Canada Day 2015 - 2

What incredible Canada Day celebrations we had here in Kingston this year! As mayor I am so proud and so inspired by the incredible patriotism that was on display throughout our community. From the Red and White people parade to the huge crowd at the civic ceremony to the many other great events taking place across the city over the day, it was clear that Kingstonians are unmatched in our pride and love for Canada! Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate ! Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the day…

Canada Day 2015 -1

Here are the 2015 Civic Award winners (left to right): Curt Bolton, First Capital Distinguished Citizen Award, Jayan Anpalahan, Mayor’s Award for Youth Volunteerism, Mackenzie Curran, Mayor’s Award for Youth Volunteerism,  and Fred Jones, First Capital Distinguished Citizen Award . Congratulations and thank you for your ongoing contributions to our community!

 

Canada Day 2015 - 4 - Rob Mooyphoto credit: Rob Mooy