Marking 2 Years on the Job: My View from the Mayor’s Chair

smart-livable-21st-century

Although hard to believe it’s been 2 years since being elected your mayor, it’s certainly been busy and exciting as I work to make Kingston a Smart and Livable 21st Century City!  To mark the halfway point, I wanted to provide both a review of the last 2 years, and a preview of what to watch for in the next 2 years.

With so much work and progress made over the last two years it’s difficult to capture it all. Here are the highlights, as I see them from the mayor’s chair.

Creating a Youth Employment Strategy: a plan to make Kingston a leader in skills development and fostering employment opportunities for our young people

Approving the Airport Expansion: expanding the existing terminal and lengthening the runway to allow for better air service in and out of Kingston

Completing the K&P Trail: extending the trail through the urban core of the city in time for Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1, 2017

Launching a Visioning for Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour: in partnership with the Federal government, this is a key step to a redevelopment for this signature piece of waterfront

Adopting the Waterfront Master Plan: an ambitious 30 year plan to invest $2 million per year in waterfront improvements in locations such as Confederation Basin, Breakwater Park and Richardson Beach

Exploring Innovative Ways to Communicate: keeping Kingstonians informed with the From the Mayor’s Chair bi-weekly videos and hearing from residents across the community with the Chats with the Mayor campaign

Charting the Future Development of the Inner Harbour: the North King’s Town visioning exercise is engaging the public in the creation of a plan to spur redevelopment of brownfields and explore alternatives to the Wellington Street extension

An Exciting Year for Tourism: the new ‘fresh made daily’ tourism brand, opening Kingston Pen for tours and, of course, The Tragically Hip concert in Market Square.

Getting the Third Crossing Shovel Ready: with a preliminary design and a business case in development, this long talked about bridge project will be ready to proceed by next year

Investing in the Downtown: the 3rd phase of the Princess Street reconstruction (the Big Dig) is complete, residential developments are coming forward and one has been approved (the Capitol condo project)

Fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurship: a partnership with Innovate Kingston to transform the old Portsmouth Town Hall into incubator space for new tech companies, and a new economic development agency to promote new business growth in the city

Holding annual tax rate increases to 2.5%: finding $1M in savings each year to hold operating increases to 1.5%, plus 1% toward capitol investments

So, what’s coming in the next 2 years?

Watch for the results of the current public engagement efforts: a new vision to guide the redevelopment of Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour

Following the completion of the preliminary design and business case: a council debate on whether to proceed with the Third Crossing

Addressing homelessness, revitalizing Rideau Heights and expanding our affordable housing supply will bring further investments in affordable housing

Making Kingston a leader in innovation will see new initiatives to support innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth

Continuing to plan a livable city with expansion of express transit service and investments in active transportation  

Showcasing our vibrant culture and rich history as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, right here in the nation’s first capital

More than anything, over the past two years I have enjoyed meeting and working with Kingstonians as we build a stronger community together. Looking ahead, I am most excited to enhance Kingston’s position as a leader in innovation with several exciting projects to come. Thank you Kingston for two great years, I am proud of the progress made and I look forward to the next two years of hard work and collaboration. 

Tourism Partners Declare Support for Third Crossing

Last month Council received a letter from Kingston Accommodation Partners (commonly known as KAP), expressing their support for the proposed Third Crossing bridge project. KAP is a respected tourism organization that oversees much of the tourism activity in Kingston, and has championed the move toward the new ‘fresh made daily’ tourism marketing brand for the city.

KAP’s letter of support lays out an interesting argument in favour of the Third Crossing. They suggest that by diverting commuter traffic away from the LaSalle Causeway, we can make it easier for tourists to get to and from downtown and the waterfront, where most tourist attractions are located. After this summer’s incredible tourist season, KAP is asking us to consider how a new bridge could make more room for visitors to Kingston’s tourism hotspots.

As I’ve stressed before, the Third Crossing is a huge project and before we make any final decisions on this bridge we all need to understand both the potential benefits and costs. Understanding the potential impacts and opportunities from the perspective of our tourism sector is valuable as we continue this community conversation. Here’s the KAP support letter in full: 

kap-letter-of-support-regarding-the-third-crossing

 

Exploring Redevelopment Options for KP & POH

We’ve reached an exciting phase in the visioning process for Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. This week public workshops were held to explore and develop potential options for the property. Four options – all with different ways that we could mix heritage, green space, marina access and other new developments – were explored to highlight the full range of possibilities for the KP and POH site.  

Here’s a snapshot of the four options community members explored:

Option 1 – all existing buildings on the KP site conserved, taller new buildings, and existing marina building removed and integrated into a new building.   

option-1-kp-poh-visioning

 

Option 2 – existing buildings on the KP site adapted for re-use, new public street though the site, some taller new buildings and marina building and slips on the east side (instead of existing west side placement)

option-2-kp-poh-visioning

Option 3 – heritage buildings on the KP site adapted for re-use, modern buildings demolished, multiple public streets added, new mid-rise buildings and marina building maintained on the west side.  

option-3-kp-poh-visioning

Option 4 – some but not all heritage buildings on the KP site adapted for re-use, modern buildings demolished, full grid of streets added, lower new buildings and marina remaining on the east side with a new building.

option-4-kp-poh-visioning

Each of these options will soon be posted on the city’s website – www.cityofkingston.ca/city-hall/projects-construction/kingston-pen/consultation – asking Kingstonians for their comments, likes and dislikes about each. The idea is not to vote on these four options, but rather to create a preferred redevelopment plan that incorporates the best elements from each option.

This is a exciting opportunity for all Kingston residents to help shape the final vision for KP and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, so share your ideas and make your voice heard!

From the Mayor’s Chair -October 4

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 October 4 Council meeting include approval of the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation request for $6.5M over 5 years towards their fundraising campaign, approval of the hiring of an integrity commissioner to review the participation of Councillor Candon in the Capitol condo project vote, and approval of service level agreements for Tourism Kingston and economic development organization for Kingston.

Watch the October 4 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 web

An Investment in Kingston Hospitals, an Investment in Kingston

At this week’s City Council meeting, Council voted to approve $6.5 million towards a new fundraising campaign by the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF). This campaign is directed toward new state-of-the-art equipment and facilities like an expanded neo-natal intensive care unit and modernized operating rooms. Over the next five years the City will contribute $1.3 million per year, less than the $1.6 million annual funding the city has provided UHKF since 2008.

The important question Council had to grapple with on this issue is – why does the local government need to fund health care in our city, when health care is supposed to be a provincial responsibility.

The answer comes down to the funding model. In order to qualify for funding to make improvements to hospital facilities, 10% of the construction costs must first be raised locally. Once that happens, the province will put up the remaining 90% of the required money. Those are the rules of the game, and so if the required dollars can’t be raised locally, the provincial dollars will go to hospital upgrades elsewhere in the province.

Building a smart and livable city means we need state-of-the-art hospitals here in Kingston. Our community should have the best possible health care available, not only to serve our residents, but also to attract new research and business opportunities in the health care sector.

This is a big financial ask and was a difficult decision for council.  It was difficult because we need to live within our means as a city, and so we only have so many municipal tax dollars to go around. But in this case, $6.5 million from the city will unlock an additional $500 million in provincial dollars, enhance the facilities and equipment to deliver the best care possible and help to attract talent and research in healthcare. In my view, this is an offer too good to refuse.