Moving Ahead with Kingston’s Airport Expansion

During this week’s City Council budget deliberations, the hot topic of discussion and debate was the planned expansion of Kingston’s Norman Rogers Airport. Earlier this year City Council identified both the extension of the existing runway and the expansion of the airport terminal as key infrastructure priorities for the 2015-2018 term of Council. However during our budget meetings there were some questions and concerns expressed by a couple of City Councillors about moving ahead with the project.

In order to ensure that the airport expansion is completed within this term of council, the work needs to start next year, which means that the funding for the expansion must be included in the 2016 budget. The budget will be formally approved by City Council on December 15th, and so in advance of that decision, here are my top 7 reasons why we need to invest in a new and improved Kingston airport:

1. An expanded airport will make it more convenient and cheaper for residents to fly out of Kingston rather than driving to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa or Syracuse.

2. An expanded airport will boost economic development in the city.

3. An expanded airport will help KEDCO attract more conferences and sporting events to the city to boost local tourism supporting our community and a healthy downtown.

4. If we don’t expand our airport, we risk losing the air service that we have.

5. A larger airport terminal will allow more than one airline to operate in Kingston, creating competition and lower prices for flights.

6. A longer runway will allow for longer distance flights out of Kingston, to destinations well beyond Toronto and Ottawa.

7. An expanded airport terminal will create an important first impression to business travellers, tourists and other visitors that Kingston is a modern, growing, smart and livable city.

 

First Look at the 2016 Budget

Next week City Council will be presented with the City of Kingston’s draft 2016 operating and capital budgets. I’ve already had a chance to look it over and at this point I like what I see. First, there are a number of important investments that we will be making over the next year including:

  • $16 million for the airport expansion, which is a key strategic infrastructure investment for the city
  • $3.6 million for the K&P trail, with a goal to have this work finished in time for Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017
  • $11.3 million for the renovation of the central branch of the library into a more modern and accessible space for the community in our downtown core
  • $1.7 million towards new client relation management software, so that as a city we can provide faster and more efficient responses to residents questions and feedback
  • $2 million for continued investment in affordable housing, an ongoing strategic priority for City Council

I’m also very pleased that the 2016 budget is in line with City Council’s direction to limit the annual tax rate increase to 1.5% for operating costs, plus 1% towards maintaining our city’s roads and other infrastructure.

A 1.5% increase is below the inflation rate with no cuts to frontline services. That means over $1 million in savings and efficiencies had to be found across all city departments. In my view these efficiencies reflects a key component of a smart and livable city – where we are constantly working to find better and more efficient ways of running the city to deliver better value for taxpayer dollars.

Airport - Kingston

City of Kingston’s 2016 budget includes $16M for airport runway and facility expansion

Kingston-Frontenac-Library

City of Kingston’c 2016 budget includes $11.3M for Central Library Branch major rehabilitation and renovations

For more information on the budget meetings held November 23-25 and related documents please visit the City of Kingston website here 

From the Mayor’s Chair – November 17

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 November 17 Council meeting include; the reconsideration of the Memorial Centre site as a possible location for a new high school, a discussion of the Transportation Master Plan and active transportation targets for the community, and the adoption of the Rideau Heights regeneration strategy. 

Watch the November 17 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair here:

From the Mayor's Chair -

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

Towards a New and Improved John Counter Boulevard

As many commuters probably noticed this week, the section of John Counter Boulevard between Princess Street and Portsmouth Avenue was closed for construction. The construction this week, and more to come over the next few years, will be well worth the occasional traffic detour as we move towards the completion of a widened road with an overpass over the rail tracks. This road investment will make it easier and faster to get from one side of the city to the other. So, while construction delays are never enjoyable, I like to think of it as short term pain for long term gain!

Here’s a picture of what the new road and overpass will look like. As you can see, it will veer north from its current location and then extend over the wetlands and the railroad tracks.

John Counter Boulevard bridge concept drawing

Approval of this final phase of the John Counter Boulevard (JCB) widening was one of the first major budget decisions of the new council, not only because it’s an important project itself, but also because it sets the table for another bridge further east – the Third Crossing across the Cataraqui River. The Third Crossing will connect the east end of JCB to Gore Road in the east end of the city. Once the JCB overpass and the Third Crossing are built, the city will have a single traffic corridor extending from one side of the city to the other. This will reduce travel times for commuters in both the east end and the west end of our city, it will alleviate traffic problems in the downtown and it will facilitate renewal and redevelopment in the north end. A win-win-win in my books!

Have your say – KEDCO Survey Launched on City Website

This week I’m pleased to announce the launch of an online survey seeking community feedback as part of the ongoing KEDCO review process. We want to hear from all Kingston residents interested in economic development; your feedback and ideas for building our local economy are important and will help shape the future of our community. I invite you to take a few minutes to participate in this survey, helping us ensure we seize economic opportunities and focus on the priorities that matter to our community. Let’s build a smart and livable city together!

KEDCO Review Survey - graphic

www.CityofKingston.ca/KedcoReview

From the Mayor’s Chair – November 3

Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in three minutes or less.

Highlights from the November 3 Council meeting include; discussion of a demolition request for a heritage home in Barriefield Village,  a change to the areas of the city where secondary suites are permitted and acquisition of lands for the expansion of the K&P trail.  

Watch the November 3 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair here:

From the Mayor's Chair -

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