This weekend I have the great privilege of cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of the Rideau Heights Community Centre. This is an amazing new facility that marks another key step forward in the rejuvenation of the Rideau Heights neighbourhood. It’s been exciting to see the momentum of change and renewal in this area of the city over the last few years, with the construction of the new Kingston Community Health Centre facility, the state-of-the-art St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School, and the city’s biggest skate park in Shannon Park.
Now we have a brand new community centre in the heart of Rideau Heights, and what’s even more important than the building is the programs and services that will be offered to kids, families and seniors in the surrounding neighbourhood. The Boys and Girls Club, the Seniors’ Centre, and Loving Spoonful will be offering a variety of different programs in the community centre, in addition to the new library, a gymnasium and other community space.
The rejuvenation of the Rideau Heights neighbourhood continues to be a high priority, and work has already begun on the next phase of redevelopment around Headway Park. As shown in the concept drawing above, we’re looking at putting in a new street, a new playground and a shift to more mixed income housing in the area. Finally, with the construction of the Third Crossing moving ahead, there will be more opportunities to revitalize the Montreal Street corridor and unlock further development potential in the north end of the city. I’m so glad to see real progress and revitalization in Rideau Heights and look forward to continuing to move this initiative forward together.
This week construction officially begins on the expansion of Kingston’s airport. With the final design complete, work is now proceeding on both the extension of the existing runway and the renovation and expansion of the terminal building. When I ran for mayor back in 2014, the expansion of the airport was an important part of my platform and I’m very glad to see this project moving ahead. This expansion is a critical first step towards improving air transportation to and from Kingston.
As the work begins on the physical infrastructure of the airport, the city is also working to develop a market study that will give us the information we need when discussing air service improvements with Air Canada and other potential airline carriers. Several years ago a study found that more than 90% of air travelers in this region drive to other airports like Toronto or Ottawa rather than flying out of Kingston. That suggests an enormous opportunity for airlines to do business in Kingston if airlines make the right improvements to their service. There are also great opportunities for related industries in Kingston because of the pressures faced by Toronto’s Pearson airport, which won’t be able to handle the future growth in Southern Ontario air traffic on its own. This means a future where regional airports like Kingston can play an important role, which will bring new economic development opportunities.
If Kingston is going to be a globally connected city we need to make sure it’s easy for tourists, business travelers and residents to get to and from Kingston, whether by air, train or car. There is lots of work ahead to make that happen, but by the time the airport expansion is completed later this year, we will have taken a big step toward this goal.
Our motto in Kingston is that we are the city ‘where history and innovation thrive.’ One of the best examples of history and innovation thriving is when an old, deteriorating heritage building is given a complete facelift and transformed into residential, commercial or community space. In the same spirit as the Woolen Mill, the Tett Centre and Portsmouth Town Hall, the next exciting transformation slated for Kingston is the old Imperial Oil building at the base of North Street on the edge of Doug Fluhrer Park.
At this week’s City Council meeting, Council formally approved the necessary heritage permits to allow ABNA investments to proceed with the much needed repairs and rehabilitation of the old limestone warehouse. While the 9 North Street building is an important remnant of the city’s industrial past, it’s also literally falling apart after sitting empty since the 1960s. The plan is to completely renovate and restore the building so that it will house a number of one and two bedroom apartments, adding a much needed boost to the city’s housing supply and located a short walk from downtown.
This is an exciting time of renewal for Kingston’s Inner Harbour with the new K&P trail, planning underway for a new and improved Belle Park, and a proposal under consideration to redevelop the Davis Tannery site. There’s no doubt that a state-of-the-art residential development situated in a beautifully restored heritage building will be another tremendous addition to this area of the city.