This week a whole team of city staff, community groups and tourism partners are busy preparing for a Canada Day weekend to remember! As Canada’s first capital city and the home of our nation’s first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, there is no better place to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday than here in Kingston. I’d like to invite all Kingstonians to join us! Here are a few of the highlights to watch for:
Friday 10pm: Join me for the official launch of the new City Hall lighting system, where we will light up City Hall with a Canada-themed motif for the weekend.
Saturday 11am: Join me at the downtown Metro parking lot for the annual Red and White people parade. Come dressed in red and white and be a part of the biggest Canada Day parade we’ve ever had as we march down Princess St to City Hall.
Saturday 12pm: Our annual Civic Ceremony is a great chance to show off our pride as Canadians and to recognize this year’s civic award winners and a number of other special guests who are coming to Kingston to celebrate Canada’s 150th.
Saturday 1-6pm: Lots of things to do in a festival atmosphere downtown, including a vintage ferris wheel, musical performances, wagon rides, inflatables and lots of other great family friendly activities.
Saturday 10pm: The absolute best fireworks display in Kingston’s history, best viewed from Confederation Basin in front of City Hall.
There are many other great activities running throughout the weekend including musical performances on the Sesqui Stage at City Hall, Artsfest Kingston in City Park, and free admission to the Pump House Steam Museum on Saturday. Kingston Transit will also have express bus routes and an expanded service schedule on July 1 to make it convenient to get around the city. I hope you’ll join me for what will definitely be a Canada Day to remember!
This week City Council approved a pilot program to test Kingston’s very first bike sharing service! This pilot program will run throughout the summer and into the fall. Soon you’ll be able to look for distinctive orange bikes set up at a number of locations in and around the downtown.
So how does it work? To use this bike share you’ll need to download the Dropbike app on your phone and set up an account with a deposit. When you want to take a bike for a ride, you just scan the code on the rear of the bike to unlock it. The bike is then yours to ride at a low cost and once you’re done you take a picture of the bike with the app on your phone (to verify its condition and location). One of the most innovative features of this service is that it is a “dockless” system, so the City doesn’t need to invest large amounts of money building docking stations or hubs where the bikes are kept. In this case there is no cost to the City at all.
This pilot program is a good way to test the market to see how well a bike sharing program would work in Kingston. As a city we are working to promote active modes of transportation, and we are making a number of investments in trails and cycling lanes that make it more enjoyable and convenient to get around town on a bike. Having some bikes located at the base of the K&P trail, along downtown Princess Street, or at Breakwater Park could be great for those looking to explore our beautiful city!
To learn more about how Dropbike works check out this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLwegm-c3II
Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 2 minutes!
The June 20 Council meeting began with a presentation from the startup company Dropbike on a pilot program for a bike share service in Kingston. Council approved the program so soon the distinctive orange bikes will become available around the city. Council also approved a new public education campaign to prepare for next year’s referendum question on ranked ballots. Voters will be asked whether they want to change the way that Mayor and Councillors are elected. The campaign will focus on providing the public with information on a ranked ballot system so they can make an informed decision next fall. Finally, Council passed a motion to rename the existing P.U.C. dock in Breakwater Park to “Gord Edgar Downie Pier”.
Watch the June 20 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE
June 19, 2017
RE: Downtown Awash in Pride
To begin, I would like to congratulate Matt Salton and his team for their efforts in organizing this year’s Pride festivities in Kingston. Matt has been a strong and passionate advocate for our city’s LGBTQ community and I would like to thank him and many others in our city for their commitment and leadership over the years.
My purpose in writing today is to address concerns about a perceived lack of support from the City of Kingston. I know that I speak for all of City Council in saying that we fully support our LGBTQ community. Our vision is to embrace and promote diversity in our community, and to stand against hatred, violence and discrimination based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. As per Council approval, the Pride flag was flown throughout last week up at Division and Princess St. and was raised in front of City Hall on Saturday.
I was unable to attend Pride on Saturday because it was Father’s Day weekend, and I was with my family in Newmarket as we honoured my Dad’s memory after his passing last June. I would like to thank Councillor Jim Neill for attending and ensuring City Council representation at Pride.
Please rest assured that both City Council and the City as a whole remain steadfast in our support for the LGBTQ community and we look forward to working together in the future. Last year I had the privilege of speaking at the vigil in Springer Market Square in honour of the victims of the horrific shooting in an Orlando nightclub. I would like to repeat today what I said at that time. It is a sad truth that there are still many places in our world today where people are subject to hatred, violence and discrimination because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Here in Kingston we are committed to modeling a better way; where tolerance, respect and love prevail.
After 50 years of community-wide debate, last night’s council vote was one for the history books. Wrapping up two full nights of questions, discussion and deliberation, City Council voted 8-5 to approve construction of the Third Crossing. I’m so excited to see us move forward with a bridge that will connect the city’s east end and north end, unifying our community in an incredible new way! I truly believe this bridge will benefit Kingstonians across our community, both west end commuters and east end residents. The Third Crossing will ease traffic congestion in the downtown, and it will help to revitalize the north end. This was a momentous vote that paves the way for a project that will have a lasting impact for decades to come.
The one condition council set out is that all of the funding from upper levels of government must be in place before the city will proceed with construction. The financial plan approved by council will allow us to build the bridge without raising property taxes, but that requires the provincial and federal governments to each cover 1/3 of the total $180M cost of the bridge. With last night’s vote, the city has committed its 1/3 share of $60M towards the bridge (of which $30M will come from property taxes and $30M will come from fees paid by developers). And earlier on Tuesday, we heard the exciting news from Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca that the province is on board with its $60M investment in the Third Crossing.
That leaves just one piece remaining; a commitment of $60M from the federal government. While there is still more work to be done to get this last share of funding, here’s the exciting part: Kingston is no longer alone in its push to secure federal funding. The provincial government will now be working with us to get the federal share and finally put shovels in the ground.
Our federal MP Mark Gerretsen is a big supporter of the Third Crossing and he has committed to fighting for this last $60M that we need for the bridge. It sends a big signal that both the province and the city have committed to the Third Crossing and momentum is really starting to grow. So stay tuned, but I for one am looking forward to a new 21st century bridge for a leading, innovative 21st century city!
Today it just got easier for Kingstonians to take the bus! Kingston Transit is making real-time arrival and departure information available for all city buses. Now you can know precisely when your ride will arrive at your chosen bus stop! This technology makes taking transit more convenient; you will now know exactly when to leave home or work to catch the bus – no more questioning whether the bus is late or if, by chance, you missed it!
Getting set-up with the technology is easy. If you have Google Maps on your phone, you’re already set to go. If you don’t, you can download Google Maps, the Transit App or the City Transit App on whatever device you use – for free. This is a perfect example of how innovative technology can be used to offer better and more efficient city services to Kingstonians! These are the kinds of initiatives that continue to move us forward together as a smart and livable, 21st century city.
This week City Council gave the green light to a formal process to explore potential alternatives to the proposed Wellington Street Extension (WSX). This re-examination of the WSX is part of a larger visioning exercise for the North King’s Town area; an exercise that seeks to revitalize and reimagine both the Inner Harbour and the Old Industrial Area north of downtown.
Until this point, the North King’s Town visioning has focused on collecting community input about what the future of this area of the city should look like. It’s very clear from the input that many Kingstonians are concerned with the WSX, primarily the southern portion of the road and especially the potential loss of green space in Doug Fluhrer Park.
I think it’s great that we as a community are working together to find a compromise on this issue. I do believe that we need a road network that can facilitate redevelopment of the Inner Harbour and the Old Industrial Area. I also believe we need to make infrastructure investments that can unlock the potential of the Davis Tannery site and other parts of the surrounding neighbourhood. But I fully agree with the importance of preserving and expanding waterfront green space. I’m sure that we as a city can come up with creative ideas to achieve all of these goals at the same time.
Going forward there will need to be a lot of technical analysis done to analyze everything from traffic flows to infrastructure needs to market demand for housing. We will see the results of this technical analysis at some point next year but I am hopeful that this work will point to an innovative solution that is worthy of a smart and livable, 21st century city.
Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 2 minutes!
The June 6 Council meeting began with the official swearing in of new Countryside Councillor Gary Oosterhof. This brings Council back to full strength with 13 Councillors seated around the table. Highlights include a briefing on the results of the Breakout Project, an event held last month to promote social innovation which drew attention from around the world. Council also approved a new vision for North King’s Town after a year-long process gathering community input on what the future development for the Inner Harbour and Old Industrial Area of the city should look like. Finally, Council passed a motion asking City staff to investigate the possibility of installing a legal graffiti wall in Doug Fluhrer Park.
Watch the June 6 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE
This week the recommended vision for the future of Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour was released. This final vision is the product of a year-long process that saw over 1000 Kingstonians contribute their ideas and opinions about the future of this signature piece of Kingston’s waterfront. I believe there’s a lot to be excited about with this vision.
As you can see from the graphic above, the recommended vision has a waterfront pathway along the entire property, and expanded green space that will preserve the existing view of the waterfront from King Street. On the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour side, a new marina building with a smaller footprint will allow for more open space for sailing events and other community activities.
On the Kingston Penitentiary side of the property, it’s recommended that the north half be preserved more or less in its current state to facilitate tourism opportunities in the long term. The south half of the KP property would then be designated for both new development and adaptive re-use of some existing heritage buildings. This could allow for residential and commercial development, including other potential uses like a sailing centre, museum space, restaurants or other tourism or sport related activities.
Once final comments are collected, the recommended vision will be presented to City Council to be voted on. If Council votes in favour of the vision, then the hard work really begins with the development of a plan to make this vision a reality!
The 2017 tourist season is off to a great start and we’re looking forward to another tremendous year. In the coming months we will be welcoming visitors from across the province, the nation and from around the world. Just in the last few weeks I have spoken with a number of visitors to Kingston who have all been amazed by our historic downtown, our beautiful waterfront, and the variety of great things to see and do. Check out this great new promotional video showcasing Kingston as a must see tourist destination!