Every year one of the privileges I have as mayor is to recognize outstanding citizens and volunteers in Kingston. The Mayor’s Award for Youth Volunteerism recognizes young people who are working to make a difference in the lives of others, and the First Capital Distinguished Citizen/Honourable Achievement Award recognizes individuals that have made significant lifetime contributions to our community.
This is the second year that the awards for youth volunteerism will also include scholarships. The scholarships are meant to help these outstanding young people further their education and develop their ideas to make Kingston a stronger and more caring community. This scholarship program has been made possible by the United Way youth fund that was created thanks to the incredibly successful Kingston Penitentiary tours.
The scholarship program for Youth Awards for Volunteerism have the following monetary value for each category:
- Grades 5-8 – $750 *to be used toward a school project of their choice or design
- Grades 9-12 – $1,500
- Post-secondary youth (up to age 24) – $2,000
I’m calling on all Kingstonians to nominate a youth volunteer that you know is making a positive impact in the lives of others, or a Kingstonian that has made a lifetime contribution to our community. The deadline for nominations is April 27th. For more information and nomination forms please visit https://www.cityofkingston.ca/city-hall/kingston-awards/civic-awards
I look forward to recognizing this year’s award winners in a special ceremony on the front steps of City Hall as part of Kingston’s celebrations of Canada Day on July 1.
At our City Council meeting this week, Council approved a plan to make it easier for Kingstonians to vote in the municipal election in October. It’s important that all eligible voters in the community make their voice heard at the ballot box, and to that end here are some of the improvements you can expect in this year’s municipal election:
- Free transit service to and from the polls: on either Advanced Voting Day (Saturday, October 13th) or Voting Day (Monday, October 22nd), you can ride transit for free to get to the polling station, simply by showing your voter information notice. The City Clerk’s office is working to ensure that as many polling stations as possible are located on or near transit routes.
- Vote anywhere in your district: generally electoral districts in the city have 2-3 polling stations, and in previous elections you would be assigned to a particular polling station. However, in this election you can choose to go to whichever polling station in your district is most convenient for you. The City Clerk is also looking at the potential for real-time notifications on wait times, so that you can quickly find out which polling station in your district has the shortest line and head to that location.
- Extended period for internet voting: the 2014 municipal election was the first time that Kingstonians could cast their vote online, and that option has been expanded for this year’s election. You will be able to vote online starting from 10:00am on October 13th right through until 8:00pm on Voting Day, October 22nd.
- Check online to see if you’re on the voter’s list: city staff are also looking into the potential of online voter services where you will be able to check online to make sure that your name is on the voter’s list.
An election is one of the most important ways that citizens engage with their city and help craft the future of their community. With enhancements like these, I believe that Kingston can lead the way in encouraging high voter turnout and making sure that everyone in our community has their say in this year’s election.
Part of being a leading 21st century city means being able to quickly adapt to the changes that technology can bring to our community. A perfect example of this sort of change is the emergence of Airbnb and similar services and how they have greatly expanded short-term rental accommodation options in Kingston. In fact, there are now well over 500 Airbnb listings in the city, which is more than double the number that were available just one year earlier. In 2017, there were nearly 30,000 individuals that booked stays in Kingston through Airbnb and similar services.
There’s no question that the enormous growth in tourism in Kingston over the last few years has been a big driver of the expansion of Airbnb listings, with the vast majority of listings concentrated in neighbourhoods within walking distance of the downtown and most of Kingston’s premier tourist sites. With the number of visitors to Kingston increasing every year, it’s definitely important to have lots of different accommodation options available. However, while most hotels and motels are located in commercial districts of the city, Airbnb properties tend to be within residential neighbourhoods, and that means the city needs to have the right framework in place to ensure to both visitors and neighbours of Airbnb properties have positive experiences.
That’s why the city is working to develop a licensing system for short-term tourist and vacation rentals. City staff will be looking to develop guidelines on details like licensing fees, the number of rooms that can be rented within a single property, and the maximum length of stay permitted. To help make sure the city gets all of these details right, you can provide your input and ideas directly to city staff by completing this survey https://getinvolved.cityofkingston.ca/short-term-accommodations before March 26. There’s no doubt that with the right framework, we can ensure all tourists and visitors who come to Kingston will have a great experience no matter where they stay, which will help establish our city as one of the premier tourist destinations in the country!
After a long, cold, snowy winter, spring is finally in the air, and that means it’s time to gear up for another spectacular tourist season here in Kingston! Check out this great new video showcasing why our city has become one of the top tourist destinations in the province.
To see more of the proposed development: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vww7NJWgHnc
When it comes to reimagining what the Inner Harbour and Old Industrial areas of the city could look like, one of the most important parcels of land to talk about is the Davis Tannery site. This large waterfront property has sat dormant for decades ever since the tannery was demolished. It is perhaps Kingston’s most known brownfield site, contaminated by many years of industrial production.
There is finally a plan on the table to clean and redevelop the site. A proposal has come forward from Patry Inc. Developments to remediate the site and build 1500 residential units on the property. I won’t discuss the details of the proposal at this point because a project of this scale involves a lot of discussion between city staff, community members and the developer to come up with the best possible plan. However, I think if we can get these details right, there is a tremendous opportunity for waterfront green space and significant residential development within walking distance of downtown.
Of course, whenever we talk about redeveloping sites like the Davis Tannery, the elephant in the room is the proposed Wellington Street extension. My view has always been that we need a road network in the Inner Harbour area that will allow for the redevelopment of sites like the Davis Tannery. However, I also understand the importance of preserving existing waterfront green space in Doug Fluhrer Park. Right now city staff are exploring alternative options to the Wellington Street extension, and my hope is that we can find a road network solution that preserves existing green space, but also facilitates a redevelopment of the Davis Tannery that will provide even more waterfront green space for residents and visitors to enjoy.
For Kingstonians interested in learning more about the redevelopment proposal for the Davis Tannery, there will be a presentation and an opportunity for public comment at Planning Committee next Thursday, March 8 at 6:30pm in Council Chambers in City Hall. There are a lot of important community discussions ahead, but there’s no question that it makes environmental and economic sense to clean up and redevelop the Davis Tannery.