Introducing the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge

MIC

This week I am very proud to introduce the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge – a pitch competition for Kingston’s post-secondary students! I’m inviting students to help us tackle a complex challenge facing the city. The winning team members will each be offered a paid internship with the city next summer to implement their idea.

Check out a teaser video HERE 

Stay tuned! Next week I’ll introduce our challenge topics and provide all the information you need to sign up!

mic@cityofkingston.ca

World’s First Automated, On-Site E. Coli Detection – TECTA-PDS – Tour Stop #5

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Kingston based TECTA-PDS has created the world’s first fully-automated, microbiology system for on-site testing for E. coli and Total Coliform bacteria in drinking water samples. This innovative technology was originally developed and patented here in Kingston by a group of Queen’s researchers. The company started in 2003 (under a different name) as a direct result of the Walkerton disaster in Ontario and though it operated abroad for a time, TECTA-PDS now runs out of Kingston and almost  all manufacturing is done locally.

The Innovation

The TECTA B16 Instrument can provide E. coli and Total Coliform results in anywhere from 2-18 hours, depending on the level of contamination. It can also provide early warnings of contamination that are sent right to your computer or smartphone. What really sets this technology apart is its accuracy and efficiency, and the machine itself is compact and user friendly. The alternative to the TECTA B16 is human analysis in a lab, which is a far more time consuming process that provides additional room for human error in testing. Accurate and timely results are a huge advantage, particularly when we are talking about something as important as the safety of drinking water.

The Future

There are currently more than 300 TECTA systems in use around the world and their technology is used to test water in more than 25 countries – with those numbers continuing to grow. This unique company is a great local success story and demonstrates how Kingston has the potential to lead the way developing innovative solutions that can have a significant global impact.

The Tour

If you know of a fresh or innovative approach being taken by a community group, organization or business, I want to hear about it. Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram by following @MayorPaterson and the hashtag #MITour.

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Kingston Transit Passes as a Bridge to Employment

Bus

Part of building a smart and livable city is ensuring that no one is left behind. That means finding creative and effective ways to offer a helping hand to those in need. For example, there are people currently living on social assistance that want to find employment but getting to and from the workplace is often a key barrier. That’s where Kingston Transit can come in.

This week City Council formally approved the continuation of a great new program that provides free transit passes to those receiving social assistance in Kingston so that people in need in our community can get to work, to medical appointments, to the grocery store or to school. The program has been made possible through a partnership with the provincial government, where the Ministry of Community and Social Services provides the bulk of the funding to provide the transit passes. After a one year pilot project, the feedback from the free transit passes has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m pleased that now we can continue this program for future years. In fact, the program has been so successful that there are a number of other cities in the province that are looking to introduce similar programs.

As a city we’ve made big investments in our transit system over the last few years. It’s been exciting to see the improvements and the growth in ridership. In fact, Kingston continues to have one of the highest rates of transit ridership growth in the entire country.

The improvement of transit service continues with expanded routes and schedules on Sundays and holidays with plans to introduce a new express bus route along Montreal Street next year. Being able to get from one place to another is critical for all of us. With expanded transit routes and programs like this one, we are ensuring access to transportation is available to everyone in our community.

From the Mayor’s Chair – September 19

From the Mayors Chair

Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 2 minutes!

The September 19 Council meeting began with a discussion on the future of Belle Park. Based on recent public feedback, city staff brought forward a recommendation to close the existing golf course and begin work on a new vision for this waterfront green space in the core of the city. Council voted to close the course and adopt a new plan. Last night Council also voted to approve the continuation of a program that uses provincial funding to offer free transit passes to those living on social assistance in the community. Finally, council passed a motion asking staff to investigate the potential benefits and costs of an access without fear policy. Council will report back later this year.

Watch the September 19 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE

Telemedicine – Kingston Community Health Centres – Tour Stop #4

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Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC) is now providing specialized care through a service called Telemedicine. It’s a simple but powerful way to provide Kingston residents with easy access to medical specialists that are located in other cities.

The Innovation

Telemedicine uses secure videoconference technology to facilitate appointments between patients and specialists or health care providers in other cities. This service is free to residents of Ontario. The largest and perhaps most obvious benefit is the savings that come from reduced travel. Often if a person needs to see a specialist, say in Toronto or Ottawa (or even further), that appointment will require money for travel, time off of work and often other related costs such as childcare. These costs can really add up, particularly if multiple trips are required. With Telemedicine, an initial consultation or follow up appointment with a specialist can be done remotely, so that you don’t have to travel out of town. The cost savings for Kingston residents are significant and this service also helps the health care providers as fewer patients need to reschedule appointments because of bad weather or other unforeseen circumstances that might hinder travel. Here at KCHC, Clinical Telemedicine Nurses are available in person to support patients before, during and after the appointments.

The Future

Telemedicine really is the future of medicine. While there will still be times when you and a medical specialist have to be in the same room together, there are many other times when virtual examinations will do just as well. This sort of technology allows for faster, more efficient patient care and a better healthcare system as a whole. I’m so pleased to see this sort of innovative technology in Kingston that can save residents time and money and provide access to the best medical professionals in the province right here in our city.

The Tour

If you know of a fresh or innovative approach being taken by a community group, organization or business, I want to hear about it. Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram by following @MayorPaterson and the hashtag #MITour.

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A Better Future for Belle Park

Belle Park Final

The future of the city’s 9 hole golf course at Belle Park has been discussed at length over the last few years. Next week I will be asking council to support what I believe will open up this important waterfront green space to far more people across our city. Specifically, I will be asking them to support a recommendation from staff, based on feedback from over 1000 Kingstonians, to close the existing golf course and re-purpose the park with new facilities such as a multi-use sports field, pickleball courts, a pitch and putt, trails for walking and biking, and a playground.

My main concern with the Belle Park golf course has been its hefty operating losses. Annual losses require the city to invest close to $200,000 per year just to maintain the operations and I’m sure those tax dollars can be put to better use. My other concern is the usage of Belle Park. This large waterfront green space in the middle of the urban core has enormous potential. I want to see this beautiful space being enjoyed by thousands of people across our community. However, I just don’t see that happening with a golf course.

After a number of public workshops, focus groups, and an online survey, Kingstonians have made their wishes clear. The majority of public feedback supports re-purposing the golf course to allow for rugby and other field sports, pickleball, walking, biking and space to enjoy the natural beauty of this waterfront property. We can still maintain some golf activities with the existing driving range and a new pitch and putt course with the addition of all of these new features at the same time. We also have an amazing opportunity to engage our local indigenous community to explore the ways that we can highlight the history and culture of indigenous peoples in this important space.

The possibilities are endless and the potential is enormous, so let’s take this important step towards a new and better future for Belle Park.

 

Making Space for Innovation – Queen’s Human Media Lab – Tour Stop #3

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The Human Media Laboratory is run by Queen’s School of Computing Professor Roel Vertegaal and six multi-disciplinary and diversely skilled graduate students. It is a lab dedicated to creating adaptive technology meant to be integrated into everyday objects.

The Innovation

A number of leading edge technologies have originated in the Human Media Lab: the MagicWand, a handheld device that responds to physical gestures while also presenting a 3D image on its display; ReFlex, a full-colour, high-resolution, flexible smartphone; and BitDrones, interactive flying microbots that allows users to virtually construct three-dimensional structures – to name a few. This incredible interactive space is designed to foster creativity and collaboration that can spur new cutting edge inventions. As soon as you walk through the doors of this lab, it’s as though you’ve stepped into the future.

 The Future

Professor Vertegaal’s enthusiasm for innovation is infectious and we definitely share the same vision of Kingston as a centre for leading technology innovation. The Human Media Lab is itself a window into the future, where you can glimpse tomorrow’s technologies today. I love visiting spaces like this carefully designed  to encourage creative thinking.

The Tour

If you know of a fresh or innovative approach being taken by a community group, organization or business, I want to hear about it. Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram by following @MayorPaterson and the hashtag #MITour.

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Exciting Potential for a Key Downtown Property

Arnon Parking Lot

Enhancing the vitality of the downtown is one of my top priorities as mayor and this week City Council took an important step that will help achieve this goal. At our meeting, council formally approved the purchase of the Arnon parking lot located directly beside City Hall. The property extends from Brock Street over to Princess Street and is the last piece of undeveloped property in the vicinity of City Hall and Market Square. While the parking lot will likely remain in its current form for the foreseeable future, there are some exciting opportunities for this prime downtown property going forward.

Personally, I think it’s critical to maintain an adequate supply of parking in the downtown so that visitors and residents alike can easily get to and from the great restaurants, shops and event venues we have. I also believe that we need new development in the downtown, both residential and office/commercial development. New development allows more people to work, live and play in the downtown, enhancing the vitality of the city core year round. It’s been another record year for tourism in Kingston and it’s been amazing to see the downtown bustling with activity. New development will ensure that our downtown stays busy long after the peak tourist season has ended.

That’s why the purchase is so exciting. I think there are opportunities for both expanded parking and new development on this property that will make our downtown that much stronger. To put a spin on the old Mark Twain quote: buy land around Market Square, they’re not making it anymore!

From the Mayor’s Chair – September 5

From the Mayors Chair

Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 2 minutes!

The September 5 meeting began with a decision by council to buy the Arnon parking lot directly beside City Hall. Council voted unanimously to buy the lot noting the potential options for the future of this site including expanded parking and the opportunity for office and commercial development which would contribute to the vitality of the downtown year round. Council also heard a presentation from St. Lawrence College President Glenn Vollebregt who was asking Kingston to approve a new partnership between the city and the college. Council voted unanimously to move forward with the hope that this will allow opportunities for the city and the college to combine resources and programs to help support local economic development. Finally, Council received an update on the city’s new Youth Employment Strategy. Council heard how over the last year the city has hired a number of student interns and co-op students and how the next step will be to encourage institutions, organizations and businesses across the city to hire students as well.

Watch the September 5 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE

30,000 Pounds of Produce – Food Bank Garden at Frontenac Institution – Tour Stop #2

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Inmates at Frontenac Institution have been gardening for a number of years. After the Collins Bay prison farm was closed in 2010, the inmates received a half acre of land for gardening use. From the beginning, produce was often donated to the Partners in Mission Food Bank and over time this led to a formalized partnership.

The Innovation

This is an excellent example of a win-win partnership leading to a fruitful social innovation. The arrangement allows the Food Bank to supplement their offerings with fresh fruits and vegetables, which are often more difficult to source than non-perishable items. The garden also provides inmates with volunteer opportunities that help to develop key life skills and provide a way to give back to the community. The result of this partnership was 30,000 pounds of fresh produce donated to the Food Bank last year – and as much as 60,000 pounds in previous years.

The Future

When we think of innovation we tend to think of the newest advancement in technology and certainly this is an example. I believe though that innovation should be thought of more broadly to include any new and creative approach, method, or tool. The Food Bank garden is a perfect example of how working together to re-purpose existing community resources can help us address different needs in the community. A program like this that helps both inmates and food bank clients at the same time has great potential to be replicated in other communities.

The Tour

If you know of a fresh or innovative approach being taken by a community group, organization or business, I want to hear about it. Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram by following @MayorPaterson and the hashtag #MITour.

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