This is Tourism Awareness Week here in Kingston and we’re gearing up for another record breaking season. In order to make it easier for visitors to get around the city, this fall we are introducing wayfinding signs at key tourism hotspots and along the waterfront.
These new wayfinding signs are designed to draw people to the waterfront, and to show off some of the amazing views and beautiful green spaces we have along our city’s shores. I believe the strength of tourism in our community comes from the vast array of authentic experiences you can have here – whether walking through the downtown, exploring historic sites or experiencing the natural beauty of the waterfront. The great thing about these signs is that they will help residents and visitors explore parts of Kingston and its waterfront they might not have seen otherwise.
Tourism Awareness Week isn’t just about visitors, it’s also an invitation to all Kingstonians to be tourists in our own city and discover new places. With these new wayfinding signs, we will all be able to explore new spots and enjoy Kingston’s waterfront in a new light.
Becoming a smart and livable 21st century city means establishing our city as a leader among cities. That includes leading the way in the journey of reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in our country. Last year I had an amazing experience participating in a talking circle; indigenous and non-indigenous community members sat, listened, and talked together, to better understand and appreciate our different experiences and perspectives.
As mayor it’s exciting to see some of the steps the City has taken towards reconciliation. From meetings with local indigenous leaders and smudging ceremonies, to introducing the First Peoples recognition statement that I read at the beginning of every City Council meeting, we’ve set a strong foundation, and now it’s time to build on that relationship. Here are a few things that I would like to see established as we look ahead:
– Create a community led gathering and cultural space for indigenous peoples in Kingston;
– Support the formation of an indigenous community committee that could work with the City to prioritize new initiatives and discuss issues of shared concern;
– Continue with indigenous-specific cultural training and education to strengthen engagement between the City and our local indigenous community;
– Promote talking circles throughout the community to help foster more communication and understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous citizens;
– Develop specific initiatives to help indigenous youth succeed and thrive in our community.
We are very fortunate to have some incredible champions of reconciliation and relationship building in our community, and it’s been an honour to get to know them over the last few years. As we get ready to mark Indigenous Peoples Month in June, I look forward to building on the momentum that has been created by the Engage for Change initiative. As stated in our First Peoples recognition statement, now is the time to continue our efforts so that our indigenous and non-indigenous communities can walk side by side into the future.
(If your organization is interested in hosting a talking circle, please check out https://www.cityofkingston.ca/explore/culture-history/history/engage-for-change to find more information and learn about potential funding support opportunities.)
In a city with such amazing history, I’m always excited when old abandoned heritage buildings are restored back to modern use. A few weeks ago I wrote about the proposal to restore and renovate the Imperial Oil building at the base of North Street. This week, a plan is coming forward to the City’s Planning Committee to restore another crumbling heritage building just a short distance away: the old Bailey Broom factory.
This former factory building at the corner of Rideau and Cataraqui Streets is in terrible shape and City Council briefly considered demolishing the building several years ago. However, RAW Design Inc. came forward with a plan to purchase the building and restore it. The required restoration work will be extensive, but the end vision will see this dilapidated building transformed into a great mix of residential and commercial space. The proposed development would see 9 new townhouse units constructed on the north side of the building, while the old broom factory itself would be converted to a unique mix of everything from office space, to a café, artisan workshops and other event space.
This redevelopment is another exciting indicator of the growth and renewal we are seeing across the city right now. With plans to restore the Imperial Oil building and the Bailey Broom factory, clean up and redevelop the Davis Tannery property, and create a new vision for Belle Park, the Inner Harbour in particular should soon become an exciting showcase of urban renewal within Kingston’s downtown core. There’s lots of work ahead of us, but it’s great to see the momentum that’s been created. You can read more about the plans for the Bailey Broom factory here https://bit.ly/2Ip41gJ
Miss Council last night Kingston?
Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 2 minutes! Watch it HERE
Request for an Exemption to the Noise Bylaw
Fleet Maintenance Facility
A few weeks ago Money Sense magazine released their 2018 ranking for the best cities to buy real estate, and this year Kingston is rated the 5th best city in the Canada for investing in a home or rental property. When comparing cities, the Money Sense survey looks at a variety of factors that measure both the strength of the local economy and the rental market. Their assessment this year is that Kingston is one of the best places to invest in the country based on value for dollar. With housing becoming less affordable in the Greater Toronto Area, it’s clear that more potential home buyers and investors are looking at Kingston.
This is good news for the community, because it reflects both the growth in our local economy and the fact that more people are attracted to Kingston as a great place to live. At the same time, this buzz about Kingston means that there will be added pressure on our housing supply, and it’s vitally important that we increase the supply of housing in order to meet growing demand. Kingston already has the lowest rental vacancy rate in the province at 0.7%. If we don’t have more housing soon, the vacancy rate will drop further. The affordability of living in Kingston is a major advantage, and we must build more if we are going to avoid the big spikes in housing prices that occurred in the GTA.
Kingston offers a tremendous quality of life, and with the recent success we’ve had attracting new companies to the city, the interest people have in moving here has only increased. You can read more from the Money Sense article at http://www.moneysense.ca/spend/real-estate/top-cities-canadian-real-estate-2018/ but it’s clear that the conditions in Kingston are right for exciting new growth in our city. Let’s make sure that all present and future residents can find an attractive and affordable place in Kingston to call home.
This week City Council approved a naming rights agreement for Kingston’s premier downtown arena and entertainment centre. As of July 1st, the Rogers K-Rock Centre will become the Leon’s Centre. The name change will take some getting used to, but it was fantastic to see a lot of interest from businesses looking to attach their name to this facility, and congratulations to Leon’s for putting forward the winning offer!
Under this new agreement, Leon’s will pay an average of $265,000 per year over the next five years to have their name on the facility, with an option to extend for an additional five years after that. This is a substantial increase over the current naming rights fee, which will provide a great boost to the annual bottom line for the arena.
A few months ago we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Rogers K-Rock Centre, and what an amazing ten years it’s been. There have been so many great shows, hockey games and sporting events over the years, and the facility continues to win awards and is a real showcase for Kingston. There’s no doubt that this facility has been a catalyst for tourism, development and a vibrant downtown. Years ago I remember following the big debate about the centre which was then known as the Large Venue Entertainment Centre (LVEC), and how fortunate for our city that former Mayor Harvey Rosen and the City Council of the day made the project a reality. Now it’s hard to imagine Kingston without it. Congratulations to the Rogers K-Rock Centre on a great 10 years! I look forward to attending many more events at the Leon’s Centre in the future!
A key part of the smart city vision for Kingston is to position our community as a leader in how we use new technology to improve the quality of life for our residents. In a recent survey on smart city activities, Kingstonians overwhelmingly identified a caring, equitable and connected community as their most important priority for a smart city. Imagine, for example, how we could use technology to help seniors live better at home, and help seniors get around the city easily, safely and more efficiently. Imagine how technology could be used to combat isolation, help seniors stay engaged in the community and facilitate new connections with younger generations of Kingstonians.
All of these ideas are part of Kingston’s Smart City Challenge proposal, a pitch that we have made to the federal government showing how Kingston is positioned to be a national leader in social innovation with a focus on developing technologies that will foster a healthy, resilient and engaged community. More details about Kingston’s Smart City proposal will be available in the coming weeks but here are three pilot projects that are part of our city’s plan:
– Partner with the Canadian Frailty Network, Queen’s University and St. Lawrence College to develop and test health-focused sensor technologies and analytics in Rideaucrest Home;
– Work with IBM to use state of the art cognitive computing and predictive analytics to match retired residents with young people to provide mentorship for employment and career development;
– Use sensors and wearables to develop the best possible transportation options for seniors and their families based on their individual mobility condition and where they need to travel to in the community.
Kingston has long been one of the most attractive retirement destinations in the country. Now, as the country grapples with the implications of an aging population, I believe our city has a tremendous opportunity to pioneer innovations that will advance the quality of life for all senior citizens in Canada.
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.