Exploring the Potential for a Downtown Conference Centre

The pandemic has been incredibly hard on both workers and businesses in our tourism and hospitality sector. As Mayor, I want to do what we can to ensure that tourism rebounds and also comes back stronger than before COVID hit. One of the best ways we can do this is to look for ways to expand tourism during times of the year when there aren’t as many visitors to Kingston. The summer is always a busy time but there are things we can do to attract more tourists in the fall, winter, and spring which in turn would help sustain tourism related jobs and businesses throughout the year. One of these potential investments is a conference centre in the downtown.

At our City Council meeting next week, we’ll be considering a report commissioned by Tourism Kingston into the feasibility of a conference centre. The report suggests that there could be substantial demand throughout the year for meetings and conferences held here in Kingston if we had the right facility. This could be a chance to be able to build the country’s first post-pandemic conference centre designed and equipped for hybrid meetings and conferences that fit the reality we now see. One potential option would be to include a conference centre in the future redevelopment of this city owned property next to the Leon’s centre. There’s still many details and options to consider before coming to any decisions, but I for one think it’s worth exploring the opportunity to transform Kingston into a four season tourist destination.

3 Responses

  1. Martine Thivierge-Bournival says:

    It is a good idea. That in combination with blocking Ontario street in front of City Hall will make it a great place to have tourists and to attract possible companies for their meetings. However, I think that before we think about that, we need to address the parking problem. That conference center will take a lot of parking spots. Will there be an underground parking under the conference center ?

  2. Super idea – provided the architecture is also super. Kingston was a centre for great architecture in the 1900s. We should prioritize that today as well. It’s an illusion that great architecture has to be more expensive. Kingston’s very own architects, Shoalts and Zaback, are wonderful.

  3. Michele Steenbakkers says:

    The concept of a conference center in Kingston is a good one. Downtown could work, however I would be concerned about parking. As a Kingstonian, I now find it very challenging to get parking downtown and so often choose to shop in the west end over going downtown, despite loving the downtown shops. Parking, walking, navigating the streets especially in the snow of winter or the crowds of summer can add too much time to the time I have to get a pair or new shoes or shop for a gift, so the west end I go. Also, more and more people seem to “double park” in the middle of the downtown streets in front of restaurants and shops, leaving their cars idling as they run in. This adds to the challenge of navigating the downtown and I’m very surprised to see how common a practice this has become. Participants coming to a conference will be often coming by car and would need guaranteed parking access, plus more ease at driving from the conference Center to other downtown attractions, restaurants and shops, with more easily accessed places to park. The added population of Conference attendees would need to be considered when providing parking for locals as well. I love to walk, but when I walk I like to have my comfortable shoes and walking clothes on and I walk on safe trails not dodging intersections. If I’m dressed up to go dining or shopping, I prefer to park close to my destination as I’m sure those attending a conference would as well. So, with any development in Kingston, whether it’s adding a Conference Center to the downtown, east end or west end please account for more parking, and consider more walking trails and more bike trails to make these places a joy to visit. Thank you for the opportunity to comment, I appreciate your efforts to invest in Kingston!

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