Part of making Kingston a leading 21st century city with a global impact means ensuring it’s as easy as possible for people to travel here. To attract visitors, businesses, researchers, entrepreneurs and future residents, we need strong transportation links for planes, trains and automobiles.
That’s why I’m fully supportive of VIA Rail’s proposed expansion of rail service in Eastern Ontario. The core of this plan is a new passenger dedicated rail line, and although this new rail line won’t run through Kingston, the overall effect on our city’s rail service will be significant. With this new rail line Kingston will be transformed into a regional hub for rail service in Eastern Ontario. Kingston is currently a midway stop between Toronto and Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, and that means limited train schedules. Right now you can’t catch an early morning train from Kingston to Ottawa or a late evening train from Toronto to Kingston.
However, with Kingston as a regional rail hub, trains would start and end here, meaning far more convenient train schedules. For example, if you are in Kingston, you could catch an early morning train to Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal and then catch an evening train back. If you are in Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal, the same options of early morning and late evening trains would be available. Whether coming into Kingston or leaving, travel options by train would be significantly better.
In order for VIA Rail’s proposed rail service expansion to move forward, federal government funding will be required. The expansion of convenient rail travel for Kingston and Eastern Ontario will provide a viable alternative to travelling by car, which makes sense both economically and environmentally. And so I am happy to add my voice to the many other municipal leaders across Eastern Ontario trying to make this new rail service a reality.
Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 2 minutes!
The July 11 Council meeting began with the proposed vision for the future of Kingston Pen and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour – the product of 18 months of community consultation. After several hours of debate and discussion, Council formally approved the vision. Next Council approved a pilot project that will give residents the option of paying for parking downtown with a smartphone. The project will be introduced later this year. Finally, Council approved a new plan that will close a portion of Napier Street to traffic next to 671 Brock Street creating a pedestrian lane between Churchill Park and the new park land slated to go on the site of the old St. Joseph/St. Mary Catholic School.
Watch the July 11 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE
This week City Council approved a vision to guide the future development of Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. As shown in the image above, the vision calls for a continuous shoreline pathway and full public access to the waterfront. On the city-owned harbour side, there will be lots of green space, views of the water and space for sailing competitions and other community events. On the federally-owned Kingston Pen side, the northern part of the site will be preserved in its current state (including the prison walls) to maintain the huge tourist draw that we have seen over the last two years. The southern half of the site will allow for new construction and the re-purposing of some existing buildings, bringing enormous potential for creative redevelopment.
With the vision approved, the work now begins to implement it. That will involve working out details such as the road network and parking, while the city also develops necessary bylaws to protect the heritage buildings on site. There will be a lot of technical planning in order to get the southern half of the KP site ready for redevelopment, as Canada Lands Corporation (CLC) takes the lead towards the eventual sale of the KP property. On the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour side, the city will move full speed ahead to plan a new marina building and a revitalized harbour.
I want to take a moment to thank city staff, CLC staff, the consulting team at the Planning Partnership, the members of the community working group and the many hundreds of Kingstonians that participated in this visioning process over the last 18 months. There’s a lot of work ahead, but because of your efforts we now have a road map towards an exciting future for this signature piece of Kingston’s waterfront.