This week I was very excited to attend the ribbon cutting for the grand opening of the At the Lake Café. This café has a great selection of fresh food and baked goods, it’s situated on Kingston’s waterfront, and since opening the café is already serving an average of over 400 customers a day. The café is already a vibrant hub of activity but here’s what really sets this place apart: the café is inside the new Providence Care hospital and all of its employees are people in the Kingston community living with mental illness.
This café comes out of the innovative and inspiring vision behind VOCEC – Voices, Opportunities and Choices Employment Club. VOCEC operates a number of businesses in Kingston that together employ over 100 individuals in our community who face mental health challenges. The motto of the VOCEC program is ‘Recovery through Work’ because employment can be a key part of treating mental illness. Employment provides an opportunity to build confidence, instill purpose and promote social connections while breaking down stigma surrounding mental illness. This is exactly the sort of social innovation that can make Kingston a leader in improving the quality of life for those living with mental illness.
When we talk about the vision to make Kingston a leading, innovative, ‘smart and livable 21st century city,’ that means a lot more than just expanding broadband networks and adopting new technologies. It also means embracing new and better ways of doing things as a community. Ventures like the At the Lake Café are a perfect example of this. So the next time you are down at Lake Ontario Park or taking a walk along this beautiful stretch of waterfront, stop in for a bite to eat at the At the Lake Café. Help support this socially innovative and leading edge establishment in our community!
This week Kingstonians watched closely as flooding impacted a number of areas across the city. Fortunately the waters are receding and the roads that flooded over the weekend are now being reopened, though we continue to monitor current water levels. This happens to be Emergency Preparedness Week in the City of Kingston and serves as a good reminder of the importance of being prepared for quick action in the case of an emergency.
When the unexpected happens, like 170mm of rainfall in just over a week, the City of Kingston website is a good source of up-to-date information. The City has a dedicated page for flood updates where you can find helpful information such as road closures, impacts to Kingston transit, and where to access sand bags. For updates visit the City website at www.cityofkingston.ca/floodupdates or you can always connect with the City’s customer service line at 613-546-0000. Water level monitoring from the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority can be accessed at https://crca.ca/. In addition, you can find tips for protecting your property by checking out the following fact sheet provided by Utilities Kingston at https://utilitieskingston.com/Wastewater/BasementFlooding/FloodFacts.
Although roads have reopened, a flood warning for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River remains. As long as this flood warning is in effect, the City will continue to provide updates on the website and social media – twitter: @cityofkingston / facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCityofKingston. My sincere thanks to our city’s public works, engineering staff and our emergency responders who continue to monitor conditions and who are ready to respond as required.
Rendering of the Third Crossing – view at the arch
At an upcoming special council meeting in June, I will be calling on City Council to approve the construction of the Third Crossing, conditional on a $60 million provincial commitment and a $60 million federal commitment. Here are seven reasons why this is the right decision for our community:
The city’s share of the Third Crossing has already been built into our financial plans – meaning we can build this essential link without an increase in property taxes.
A $60M commitment from both the provincial and federal governments is a fair ask given the billions earmarked for municipal infrastructure.
The Third Crossing will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving traffic flow across our city and reducing the number of idling vehicles.
The Third Crossing is a sustainable alternative to the Causeway, a 100+ year-old bridge that will continue to impact residents with more closures in the future for maintenance and repairs.
The Third Crossing will provide more active transportation options, including a pathway for cyclists and pedestrians, and create a new east-west transit link.
The Third Crossing will connect our community – allowing more efficient traffic flows across the city, reducing travel times and distances for users and non-users.
Without a Third Crossing we will have to spend more money on emergency services to ensure east-end residents have access to the services they need, when they need them.
At the May 2nd meeting City Council will be asked to endorse a new plan for the portion of Bath Road that runs from Bayridge Drive west to Collins Bay Road. The plan calls for new bike lanes and sidewalks that will allow residents to safely walk or bike along a section of Bath Road where it is currently difficult to do either. The catch is that in order to make room for the new sidewalks and bike lanes, the width of this section of Bath Road will need to be reduced from 4 lanes to 2. Here is a visual of what this section of Bath Road would look like:
So what do you think? I’m looking to get feedback from residents on this proposal in advance of City Council’s vote, so please take a moment to vote in the poll below.
The Financial Times has named Kingston as the best small city in the Americas for Foreign Direct Investment strategy and as the sixth best small city in the Americas for Human Capital and Lifestyle! These awards came out of a comprehensive study of over 400 cities across North, Central and South America as part of the Financial Times’ special issue on ‘American Cities of the Future.’
Based out of the U.K., the Financial Times is one of the most respected business publications in the world. To receive this level of international recognition is a tremendous achievement for Kingston. Putting Kingston on the global radar is a key part of my vision to make Kingston a smart and livable 21st century city and making it to the top of the Financial Times American Cities of the Future list is a great way to help spread the word around the globe about what’s happening in Kingston!
Our recent success in attracting international companies like Frulact and Feihe has clearly drawn attention well beyond Ontario and Canada. The leadership at both Frulact and Feihe have become our city’s newest and most enthusiastic international ambassadors, and I am thrilled by the opportunity to partner with them to persuade other foreign companies to locate here in our city.
My sincere thanks to the board and staff at the Kingston Economic Development Corporation, City staff, and the vast array of passionate business and community leaders that have contributed to building such great momentum for the future of economic growth in our city. Congratulations Team Kingston!
The Third Crossing is almost shovel ready, and City Council will soon be asked to decide if and under what conditions to move forward with constructing this link across the Cataraqui River. In the lead up to this decision, city staff will be holding two public open houses on April 26 and April 27 to present the results of the preliminary design work, the business plan and the cost-benefit analysis for the bridge. Staff has shared with me a few of the following highlights that will appear in the cost-benefit analysis;
Significantly improved traffic flow projections across the city – the bridge will result in reduced travel times and distances both for those who use the bridge, but also those who don’t use the bridge because of more efficient traffic flow.
Reduction of emergency response times – which will save money on additional emergency services that would be required if the bridge is not built.
Increased appeal of industrial lands – the bridge is projected to generate more sales of industrial land in the east end of the city.
Recently staff has advised the public that the estimated cost for the Third Crossing will be higher than the $120 million identified in the 2011 Environmental Assessment for two central reasons;
Inflation – the updated cost needs to account for inflation and updated to 2017 dollars.
Environmental sensitivity – due to the environmental sensitivity of the surrounding area and discussions with Parks Canada, the Third Crossing will have to be constructed using a temporary work bridge, rather than dredging the river, which is a more expensive construction method but more environmentally responsible.
As we hear more details about the proposed benefits and costs of the Third Crossing, I want to share my position going into this discussion.
When I ran for mayor, I was very clear that I supported the Third Crossing. However, I was also very clear that we need to live within our means, by holding property tax rate increases to the inflation rate. My position is that constructing the Third Crossing must not require a property tax rate increase.
What this means for me is that the city’s share of the Third Crossing must fit within our existing capital investment plans. We have several road and infrastructure projects planned for the coming years, and the Third Crossing will have to fit within this plan. That means that we will also need both the provincial and federal governments to come to the table to invest in the Third Crossing. This to me represents a balanced way to move our city forward, to create infrastructure that benefits our whole community.