Towards a Green Economy

One of the most exciting areas of innovation I see emerging in our community are the strategies and technologies aimed at creating a green economy. To be a smart and livable city we need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and we are working hard to do just that! The Kingston Climate Action Plan is a community-developed plan to guide efforts to reduce our GHG emissions by 352,500 tonnes by the year 2020 (relative to 2011 levels.)

 

Kingston Climate Action Plan

In my view the best way to reach this goal is by embracing new technologies and innovative methods that reduce energy costs and emissions at the same time. Looking at energy use in all sectors of our community – residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, municipal and transportation – to find efficiencies is exactly what the Kingston Community Energy Plan aims to do.

Community Energy Plan

Want to learn more and get involved? Check out these green economy initiatives happening in Kingston:

  1. Green Economy Kingston: led by Sustainable Kingston, this is a project to create a network of local businesses and institutions committed to reducing their GHG emissions. This network provides information and strategies for members to increase energy efficiency and reduce waste, supporting businesses to save money and reduce their GHG footprint.
  2. Green Centre Canada: some amazing R&D work happening right here in Kingston! Focused on green chemistry innovations, Green Centre Canada is making industrial production cleaner and more efficient.
  3. SWITCH Green Profit Conference: this annual conference organized by SWITCH Ontario promotes the advantages of renewable energy to local businesses and industries. SWITCH Ontario is right here in Kingston and is helping position our community as a leader in green energy.

From the Mayor’s Chair – February 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 February 17 Council meeting include Council’s support of Sustainable Kingston’s Green Economy Kingston project aimed at engaging local businesses in climate change action, approval of a partnership with Loving Spoonful to oversee community gardens on City sites, and the addition of visual guidelines to the HWY 15 widening environmental assessment work.

Watch the February 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.

Introducing the City’s Heritage Resource Centre

Heritage Resource Centre

This week I was happy to join in the grand opening of the City of Kingston’s Heritage Resource Centre at City Hall. The Heritage Resource Centre celebrates Kingston’s rich and diverse cultural heritage through information displays and exhibits, including artifacts excavated around City Hall and Springer Market Square.

The Heritage Resource Centre is a great tool for those repairing or renovating heritage properties in Kingston. But this great space is not just for property owners, it’s a really interesting place for residents or visitors interested in our rich local history. The centre features examples of built heritage conservation and a timeline that maps Kingston’s long history, starting from aboriginal settlements through to the establishment of Fort Frontenac by the French and later King’s Town by United Empire Loyalists.

Heritage Resource Centre3

The resource centre originally opened in December 2013 as a pilot project, first located in the basement of City Hall. The relocation will make staff and resources available in a more prominent and accessible location on the main level of City Hall.

I encourage all Kingstonians – If you’re downtown for a bite to eat or at Market Square for some skating – pop in and check out this great new addition to Kingston’s historic City Hall.

Why We Need a Federal Affordable Housing Strategy

There is no doubt that access to adequate housing is a critical in our community, this is why it remains a top priority for Kingston City Council.

As we look to create more affordable housing options in Kingston we are also looking at opportunities to revitalize existing housing. Take for example our long term plan to revitalize the Rideau Heights neighbourhood. This revitalization project will move us away from the outdated 1960s model of large blocks of social housing to an integrated approach of affordable units across the city.

Of course, the creation and revitalization of affordable housing requires investment, not just municipal investment. This funding, historically, has been shared between all levels of government. The need for a long term approach to affordable housing from the federal government was presented to Council in a special meeting held last week.

In the graph below, presented at the meeting, the green line shows the funding required to maintain our existing affordable housing units which is projected to increase over time. The blue bars reflect the annual projected subsidy from the federal government over the next 20 years. As you can see, not only are we expected to see a substantial increase in costs but also a significant drop in federal funding. If a new national program is not introduced, meaning no funding from the federal government, the city would be left with an enormous funding gap. Even if we injected more money into affordable housing, the federal funding gap is way beyond our financial capacity as a city.

chart - affordable housing growing costs, declining funding

This situation is not unique to Kingston, cities across Canada face the same downward funding issue. The City is ready to work together with the federal government to realize the social and economic benefits of making progress on this important issue. I join my municipal colleagues in calling on the federal government to work with us to develop and implement a new national affordable housing strategy that reinvests in existing housing stock, tackles repairs and commits to long-term funding. We have made affordable housing a priority and continue to do our part, but we can’t do it alone.

From the Mayor’s Chair – February 2 & 3

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 2 Council meeting include a conversation about downtown development. Council approved the inclusion of an additional item in the Official Plan Update to explore and specify where residential development can be targeted in our downtown. Council also approved our participation in a partnership for an electric vehicle charing station near the 401, which is part of the Government of Ontario’s Electric Vehicle Chargers Ontario (EVCO) incentive Program.

At the special Council meeting held February 3 discussion centred on the long-term picture of affordable housing in our community given the expected reduction of funding from other levels of government in coming years.

Watch the February 2 & 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.

Telling the Stories of Kingston

As mayor I am continually impressed by the volunteers and organizations dedicated to fostering greater understanding of our local history and cultural heritage; telling the stories of Kingston. In a city with a history as rich as ours, there are certainly a lot of stories to tell. Recently city council approved a new commemoration strategy that aims to expand the diversity of Kingston stories told. The focus is to provide a framework to share a balanced view of our heritage, not only hearing the stories of our British heritage but also the less widely shared or known stories from our French and aboriginal heritage. Together these stories span hundreds of years and many generations of men and women that have helped make Kingston what it is today.

What’s great is the number of stories already being shared and the rich diversity they showcase. This diversity was seen and celebrated at the recent Kingston Heritage Fund Award ceremony.

The City of Kingston Heritage Fund was established by council in 2013, as a part of the Kingston Culture Plan. The fund is designed to support groups and organizations who are contributing to our cultural heritage, sense of place and quality of life. The program is administered by the Kingston Association of Museums, Art Galleries and Historic Sites (KAM) and this year awarded just over 200,000 to local groups and organizations to support their work.

Here is a small sample of projects that we celebrated at this year’s Kingston Heritage Fund Award Ceremony:

  • ‘Elder in Residence’ program at the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre
  • Documentary project on the history of Kingston’s Swamp Ward
  • Black History Month Celebrations – commemorating individuals of black heritage in Kingston
  • Telling the stories of prison staff and the history of penitentiaries in Kingston
  • A project celebrating Kingston’s film history
  • A presentation of the 1867 crisis at Kingston General Hospital
  • The launch of a new youth cultural heritage program

Congratulations to all of this year’s heritage fund award winners, and thank you for your efforts to tell Kingston’s stories!2016 Kingston Heritage Fund winners