There has been a lot of discussion and debate at City Council over the last month about whether or not to impose an interim control bylaw (ICBL) in the neighbourhoods around Queen’s University and St. Lawrence College. There are real concerns in these areas of the city about conversions of family homes into expanded student housing, and an ICBL has been proposed as a way to prevent any further conversions for the near future.
However, an ICBL wouldn’t just stop the conversion of family homes into student housing developments, it would also block just about any other type of development in the area. In fact, over the last week I have heard concerns from residents, tradespeople, church groups and affordable housing agencies, all of whom would be prevented from proceeding with developments to their properties under an ICBL, even though their developments are unrelated to student housing.
That’s the big problem with an ICBL; there is no ability to target the specific types of development that are of concern to the neighbourhood, while at the same time allowing all the other positive types of development to continue. This creates enormous collateral damage and is, frankly, unfair to other residents and property owners in these parts of the city. I am convinced that there is a better way forward on this. We can find more targeted solutions that will unify our community rather than create divisions and tensions in the way an ICBL proposal has. I am very pleased that as a result of last night’s debate, Council has directed staff to explore other options, which will include looking at best practices from other cities with large post-secondary student populations.
I remain convinced that one of the best ways to protect family neighbourhoods in the downtown is to encourage and incentivize more apartment style housing in areas of the downtown that need redevelopment, such as the Williamsville corridor on Princess Street. At the end of the day, we will probably need a combination of different policies and partnerships, but we can get there. Our post-secondary students are an enormous asset to our community, and by working together we can ensure that families and students can co-exist and thrive together in our community.
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 January 24 Council meeting include discussion on a proposed interim control by-law calling for a freeze on most development in the neighbourhoods around Queen’s and SLC. The discussion resulted in Council passing a motion asking staff to explore other options, there will be a public meeting in March and a staff report back to Council with recommendations on next steps. Council unanimously voted to hold a by-election to fill the vacant Countryside District council seat, the by-election will be held May 15, 2017. And Council approved a new partnership between Queen’s University and the City of Kingston to promote more innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development.
Watch the January 24 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE
For previous From the Mayor’s Chair segments visit the media tab at the top of this website
Next week City Council will make a very important decision on how we will select a new councillor for Countryside District. The City Clerk has presented us with 3 options: appoint the 2nd place finisher from the 2014 election, appoint another member of the public through a nominations process, or hold a by-election.
Since former councilor Richard Allen announced his resignation late last month, I have heard from many residents, from both Countryside and across the community, about which of the options they believe is the best. After careful consideration of all points of view, and reviewing the latest information from city staff, I will be asking Council to support a by-election to elect a new councilor.
This is by no means an easy decision for me, because a by-election comes at a cost of $150,000 and it is the option with the longest time frame (the Clerk has provided timelines indicating the election cannot occur until mid-May). However, there are significant reasons why I believe, despite the time and cost involved, a by-election is the best option.
- The new councilor must have a clear mandate from Countryside residents. Although there will be only a year and a half remaining in the council term by the time this new councilor is elected, there will be several big decisions in that time frame, on issues as the Third Crossing, the future of KP and the Wellington Street extension.
- The councilor for the city’s primary rural district should be chosen by rural residents, and not by other councilors who represent urban areas of the city. The rural area of Kingston is distinctive, and Countryside residents are best suited to choose a representative that reflects their views and priorities. A strong majority of Countryside residents that I have heard from have asked for a by-election to choose their new councillor. As the current interim councilor for Countryside district, it’s important for me to advocate on their behalf.
- A by-election is the most transparent option for selecting a new councilor. Candidates who choose to run in the by-election will need to inform residents where they stand on key issues and what they aim to bring to the council table. While the legitimacy of a council appointment could be debated, there will be no question as to the legitimacy and the mandate of the winner of a by-election.
I take very seriously the expenditure of $150,000 on a by-election. This is a significant sum of money, but, the fact is democracy comes with a cost. I think we can all agree that supporting a transparent and truly representative process will be money well spent.
Our Team Kingston trip to China was a great success! The team included board members and staff from Kingston EDO, Queen’s University, the County of Frontenac, Utilities Kingston and the Ontario Agriculture Ministry. Together we met with company officials to enhance our relationship with Feihe and made important business and political connections.
As Feihe gets ready to break ground this spring, and open the facility in 2019, we need to be ready with a supply chain that can support the business. Our trip was about understanding operations so we are ready as a community to support Feihe and maximize economic benefits for our city and the surrounding region. We had the opportunity to tour Feihe facilities, cow and goat farms, deepen our understanding of supply chain management and technical requirements for their existing plants.
I’ve received questions about expenses for the trip, each participant covered the cost of their airfare and hotel.
My expenses totaled $4,391.38
- hotels = $1,426.14
- travel (airfare and travel to Toronto)= $2,557.69
- meals = $83.80
- Chinese visa application fees = $323.75
The trip expenses will come out of the travel and conferences line of the mayor’s office budget. As this trip was at the invitation of Feihe, they covered the cost of the majority of meals and ground travel in China.
This week I am very excited to be forging new links between Kingston and China. Over the last few days I have been travelling with a Canadian delegation to visit several of Feihe International’s facilities in preparation for the company’s launch here in Kingston. Our trip to date has taken us from Beijing, to Qiqihar and to Harbin in Heilongjang province in Northeast China.
Last month Feihe representatives were in Kingston to announce plans to locate their North American base of operations in our city with the construction of a 300,000 square foot infant formula processing and research facility. This new operation represents a $225 million investment that will create 200-250 manufacturing and research jobs and over 1,000 more indirect jobs in the local economy.
This week I am in China to strengthen the city’s relationship with Feihe and to meet with the company’s chairman, trade commissioners and companies within Feihe’s existing supply chain. I am also touring their existing facilities to better understand the opportunities for existing Kingston based companies to partner with Feihe, which will create even more economic benefits for our city and the surrounding region. Later this week I will also be heading to one of Feihe’s goat farms, to understand the potential expansion in goat farming that we could see in Eastern Ontario to supply Feihe with goat milk for their infant formula processing.
The larger vision around this week’s trip is to build connections between Kingston and China. Members of our local Chinese community were a key part of Team Kingston’s approach to showcasing why our city was the right location for Feihe. I firmly believe there are now opportunities to reach out to other Chinese firms looking to invest in North America, and to show them why Kingston would be a great choice for them as well.
It’s been an exciting week so far, and I’m looking forward to sharing more information about our new partnership with Feihe, and opportunities for partnerships with China when I get back to Kingston.
First of all, Happy New Year Kingston! For my first post of 2017, I’d like to share a quick preview of what I see as the key city issues and events on the horizon for the coming year.
Defining the Future of Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour: the current visioning process will be completed early in 2017, after which a final concept plan will come to City Council for approval. This will set the stage for specific development proposals to come forward, while tours of KP continue to draw thousands of visitors to Kingston this coming tourism season.
Decision Point on the Third Crossing: this coming spring City Council will receive the preliminary design as well as updated cost and benefit information that will make the proposed new bridge across the Cataraqui River officially ‘shovel ready.’ At that point Council will be ready to decide whether to proceed with construction of the bridge, contingent on funding from both the provincial and federal governments.
New International Businesses Take Root: this year we look forward to the grand opening of operations for Portugal-based Frulact and the ground breaking of China-based Feihe’s production facility in Kingston. These new international business partners will bring hundreds of jobs to the city and create many new economic development opportunities for Kingston and the surrounding region.
New Trails and Waterfront Investments: Later this spring we will officially open the urban section of the K&P trail in time for Canada’s 150th birthday. The city will also revitalize Richardson Beach and construct a new waterfront pathway behind the Pump House Steam Museum as a first step for the new Waterfront Master Plan.
The Breakout Project: Innovate Kingston invites innovators and creators to converge on Fort Henry May 10 -12th in a competition to develop new ideas and help brand Kingston as a centre of innovation. More information at www.thebreakoutproject.com
Sesquicentennial Celebrations: As Canada’s first capital city, Kingston will be playing a key role in Canada’s 150th festivities, as we celebrate not only our past role in Canada’s history, but also the future. Learn more about Sesquicentennial activities happening in Kingston by visiting the city website at www.cityofkingston.ca/explore/sesquicentennial