Celebrating Kingston’s Nobel Laureate

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A key part of my ‘smart and livable 21st century city’ vision is to establish Kingston as a global city, to define Kingston as a leader not just in our region, but nationally and internationally. As mayor I am continually amazed and inspired by the individuals and organizations in our community who are recognized for their work not just at a local or provincial scale, but on a global scale.

A perfect example is Queen’s University professor Dr. Art McDonald, winner of the 2015 Nobel prize in physics. To have someone in our community win the most prestigious scientific prize in the world should instill tremendous pride in all Kingstonians. Dr. McDonald’s achievement is an inspiration to all of us, that through hard work and creative thinking we can all have a global impact, both collectively and as individuals.

To celebrate Dr. McDonald’s achievement, I would like to invite all Kingstonians to special public lecture by Dr. McDonald entitled ‘Neutrinos, Nobel and the Nature of the Universe’. The lecture will be held in Memorial Hall in City Hall on Wednesday December 7th at 6:30 p.m. The lecture is free, to register by e-mail at register.neutrinos@queensu.ca or by phone at 613-533-6000 ext. 77623

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Looking Ahead to the 2017 Budget

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City Council will be spending several nights next week reviewing the draft operating and capital budget for 2017. I’ve had a chance to read through the highlights, and I’m very pleased city staff are proposing a budget that limits the tax increase to 2.5% while maintaining all existing frontline services. By finding efficiencies, growing the tax base and securing more grants from the provincial and federal governments, we’re looking to limit operating increases to only 1.5%, with the remaining 1% dedicated to improving our roads and other infrastructure.

The 2017 budget also includes some exciting new investments such as:

  • $2 million towards a revitalized downtown transit terminal
  • $4 million for new buses to expand transit service on Sundays and holidays, and to prepare for the launch of a new express bus route on Montreal Street in 2018
  • $1 million in new investment for affordable housing
  • close to $1 million to implement the Waterfront Master Plan – projects include designs to revitalize Richardson Beach and work on the existing bathhouse,  and the creation of a new waterfront pathway behind the Pump House Steam Museum

Building a smart and livable city is a vision for the entire community, but city hall has to take the lead. With this budget we can make some important investments while still living within our means, and that’s exactly the sort of smart budgeting we should expect in a smart city!

Budget presentations and deliberations are taking place November 21 to 23, 2016. For more information including meeting agendas and documents please visit the City of Kingston website, here

From the Mayor’s Chair – November 15

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 15 Council meeting included a re-vote on the Capitol condominium project without the participation of  Councillor Candon, following the integrity commissioners report ,  also resulting from the integrity commissioners findings Council voted to have staff conduct a full review of our policies and procedures related to conflict of interest, Kingstonians will see a referendum question on the 2018 ballot about the use of ranked ballots for future elections and Council passed a 1-year free transit pass pilot project for Ontario Works clients. 

Watch the November 1 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 website 

Proposing a Referendum on Ranked Ballots

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Earlier this fall the Ontario government gave the green light for any municipality in the province to change its electoral system from the traditional ‘First Past the Post’ system (FPTP) to a ranked ballot system. Details will be presented in a report from staff at our November 15 council meeting.

As a reminder of the difference between the two systems – Under FPTP, each voter selects one candidate (one vote for mayor and one vote for a district councillor) and the candidate with the most votes wins. In a ranked ballot system, each voter ranks candidates from most preferred to least preferred. When ballots are counted in the ranked system the winner must achieve 50% +1 of the total vote. This means if there is no candidate with 50% +1 after the first vote count the candidate with the fewest votes has their ballots redistributed among the remaining candidates. This redistribution continues until a candidate gets 50%+1 of the total votes and is declared the winner.

Under the new provincial rules, Kingston can proceed with a ranked ballot system in the next municipal election (set for fall of 2018) only if City Council passes a bylaw by May 1, 2017 – which is less than six months from now. In my view, there is simply not enough time between now and next May to sufficiently inform the community and seek their input on such an important decision.

I am proposing instead that we put a referendum question on the ballot in 2018, asking Kingstonians directly whether they want to stay with the FPTP system or switch to a ranked ballot system in future municipal elections beginning in 2022. That way, every Kingston voter can have a say on this important decision, and we will have almost 2 years (rather than just a few months) for education and information to be shared with all residents. This information could be shared in a variety of ways, and we could even form a representative citizens group that studies the issue in depth and makes a recommendation on which system they believe would work better.

For these reasons, at our November 15 council meeting I will be putting forward an amendment to the staff report on ranked ballots asking for a referendum question in 2018. I believe that changing the way that we elect local representatives is a rare and important occasion where direct consultation is needed.  We look to Kingston voters to elect a mayor and 12 councillors every four years and we should also look to them to choose their preferred system to elect them.

As this important community discussion kicks off I hope you will share with me your thoughts and ideas.

Bryan 

From the Mayor’s Chair – November 1

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 1 Council meeting include receiving the integrity commissioners report outlining the investigation into Councillor Candon’s participation in the Capitol condominium project vote (for more information read my statement on the report here), Council approved a 5-year affordable housing plan for investing in affordable housing, and Council also passed a motion to establish a working group to provide input on all former school sites that are expecting to becoming available for acquisition within the next 2 years. 

Watch the November 1 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 website 

My statement on the Integrity Commissioners findings

As mayor, the conduct and integrity of our city council is of upmost importance to me. Our community needs to have confidence in the decisions we make.

On October 4th I brought forward a motion, supported unanimously by council, to hire an integrity commissioner to conduct an investigation as to whether Councillor Adam Candon breached the Code of Conduct for members of Council, with respect to the development application for 223 Princess Street, known as the Capitol condominium project.

Today council received the integrity commissioners’ report on the findings of her independent investigation.

It is the opinion of the integrity commissioner that Councillor Candon inadvertently breached section 2.4(c) of the Code of Conduct in the matter of the Capitol condominium project.

Given the findings of the integrity commissioner, I am immediately bringing forward a notice of motion to tonight’s meeting to allow council to reconsider the Capitol project at our November 15 council meeting. A reconsideration will allow a re-vote without the participation of Councillor Candon.

I believe this is the appropriate and necessary action to correct this situation.

This situation has highlighted the shortcomings of our existing policies and procedures for dealing with conflicts of interest.

I will, therefore, also be bringing forward a motion at our next council meeting asking for a full review of the policies and procedures related to conflict of interest and the Code of Conduct for members of Council. My expectation is a review will bring forward changes to clarify the actions that should be undertaken by members of council to avoid conflicts of interest and a transparent method for proactively addressing complaints from the public.

The motion will also ask that the city retain an integrity commissioner on an on-going basis.

I believe this situation demonstrates the need for an integrity commissioner who will be available at the request of council at all times to provide valuable independent and arms-length assessments when a conflict of interest question arises.

On behalf of council, I want to thank the integrity commissioner for her work.

As your mayor I am committed to leading the change to prevent this from happening again. I look forward to an open dialogue with the community as we work to make these changes.

Mayor Bryan Paterson 

The Integrity Commissioner’s report is available on the addendum for the November 1 Council meeting, herehttp://bit.ly/2fdhbdk