Happy New Year Kingston! As we look forward to the coming year, there is no doubt in my mind that 2016 is going to be an exciting year for our community. Here are a few things to watch for:
1. Downtown Development
This year it is expected City Council will be asked to make a decision on at least two downtown development proposals; the Capitol project, a proposed 20 story development on the site of the former Empire Theatre, and a pair of proposed high rise Homestead buildings at Queen and Ontario and Queen and Wellington. I expect discussions about these proposals and, more importantly, what these proposals could mean for the future skyline of Kingston, will be one of the big conversations of the year.
2. Visioning Exercise for Kingston Penitentiary
This year will provide an opportunity for all Kingston residents to offer their input, ideas and opinions about the future redevelopment of the Kingston Penitentiary site and the neighbouring Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. This will be a critical community exercise shaping the future of this prime Kingston waterfront destination.
3. New Youth Employment Strategy
Work has already begun on a made-in-Kingston youth employment strategy, aimed at making our city a leader in helping young people find work and start successful careers in our community. Input, ideas, focus areas and objectives continue to be gathered from employers, employment agencies, and of course youth themselves. I’m looking forward to sharing the recommendations expected to come forward later this year.
4. Waterfront Master Plan
This year City Council will be presented with a plan to invest in Kingston’s waterfront. We will have to make strategic decisions about when, where and how much to invest as we set out to improve and expand public access to this great natural asset.
5. New and Improved KEDCO
Over the next few months a committee of local business people, city councilors and community members will be working with economic development expert Brock Dickinson to formulate a set of recommendations on changes to our local economic development agency, KEDCO. I look forward to the opportunities the review process presents to create a new and improved KEDCO that will be innovative, effective, transparent and results oriented as we look to grow a smart economy in Kingston.