Mayor Bryan Paterson
December 2, 2014
Members of Council, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen…It is truly an honour and a privilege to speak to you this evening – an evening that begins a new chapter in the long and storied political history of our great city.
I would like to begin by congratulating every member of Council on their recent election victory. Having had the chance to meet with each of you individually over the last few weeks, I have no doubt our community has chosen an outstanding group of people to govern, to establish vision and to represent and serve the residents of Kingston over the next four years.
At a moment like this I am keenly aware that we have an opportunity to build on the hard work and inspired leadership of many former Mayors and Councils that have come before us.
We are where we are today as a community because of their work, and now the baton has been passed to us.
Now it is our turn to run as fast as we can and work as hard as we can – to take the helm of one of the greatest cities in Canada and make it even better.
I don’t know about you, but I am anxious to roll up my sleeves and get to work, because before we know it the time will come when our leg of the race is complete and we hand off the baton to the next group that will lead our city.
Tonight, as we take the first steps of the next four years, I want to present a vision for our community – a vision that reflects not only my priorities as Mayor, but also the collective priorities of this new Council.
This vision begins with Kingston’s motto – a motto that declares we are a city where history and innovation thrive.
A Vision of a Smart and Liveable City:
As a city we are certainly known for our proud history, because of many past community pioneers, political leaders, visionaries, and builders that today hand us a great local and national legacy.
But it is our capacity to be a leader in innovation that holds great promise for the future – because we have the potential to be a city of innovation – a smart and liveable city.
When most people think of a smart city, they think of using technology to help the buses run more efficiently, or investment in fibre optics to create a wired community.
In fact, our recent selection as one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities in the world is a testament to the fact that we have already taken many important steps to investment in technology and in connectivity.
But tonight ladies and gentlemen, I see the potential for us to establish a new and broader definition of what it is to be a smart city.
I see an opportunity for the City of Kingston to set a new standard for a 21st century city by harnessing the incredible assets we have as a community and by creating a culture of innovation, where creative thinking, invention and an openness to new ways of doing things is can be seen in every city department and in every sphere of our community.
A Smart Economy:
As a smart city, we will unlock our economic opportunities by creating an environment that empowers businesses to grow and enables jobs to be created.
We will make key investments in our infrastructure to make it easier to get to Kingston, whether to visit, to live, to work or to start a business.
We will turn our traditional identity as a public sector town on its head – by leveraging our strong public sector to grow private sector enterprises.
These private sector enterprises can then work in partnership with our educational institutions, our health care providers and our military operations, providing new technologies and equipment into the future.
To grow our local economy, we will employ a two pronged approach to economic development.
First we will work with and empower KEDCO to pursue and attract outside companies to locate in Kingston, by targeting key industries like health care, defence, information and communication technologies, agri-food and sustainable emerging technologies – sectors where we have a competitive advantage, where we can work to build clusters of economic activity to attract new talented and ambitious people of all ages and backgrounds to come to Kingston where the action is.
But as we work to attract existing companies from outside our city, we will also work to facilitate job creation by growing new and existing companies within our city.
Today I could tell you stories of local companies that started in Kingston, and began to grow, creating jobs for our residents while selling their products around the world.
And now we will create the necessary conditions to spur more entrepreneurship and innovation, creating an innovation pipeline where ideas generated at our post- secondary institutions move to incubator spaces in our business parks which then grow into established businesses that market their products around the globe to create jobs and prosperity here at home.
A Smart and Liveable Community:
In our community planning, we will be a smart and liveable city by establishing new standards for smart growth and development, creating a more compact, efficient city that is environmentally sustainable.
We will work to craft policies and streamline our planning and development process to encourage and promote more residential development in our downtown.
By bringing more people to live in the downtown, we will create the necessary commercial base to support the wonderful array of independent retailers, restaurants and service providers in our downtown for decades to come.
We will also be proactive and innovative in our approach to developing the remaining brownfields in our community.
As a smart city we will establish a vision for these properties and create the necessary policies to encourage incredible new developments, where these old abandoned industrial properties are not just cleaned up, but restored and ultimately replaced with beautiful green spaces and quality residential and commercial developments.
In a true example of how both history and innovation can thrive together in our community, we will work to facilitate innovative developments that provide modern space within the incredible architecture of existing heritage buildings.
Investing in Our Quality of Life:
As a smart city we will work to improve the quality of life of all our residents, because a smart city is a caring city.
We will tackle inequality in our community head on, with practical and effective efforts that aim not just to alleviate poverty in our city, but to provide an exit strategy to a better life.
We will tackle affordable housing, food security, active transportation, the revitalization of neighbourhood parks and the expansion of an urban forest. As a smart and liveable city we will invest in the wellbeing of all Kingstonians.
We will also work to revitalize our neighbourhoods and our incredible waterfront. The community has clearly identified the importance of a new future for Kingston Penitentiary and for many other sites along our waterfront. We will push this vision forward to expand access and beautify this natural treasure of ours.
But as a smart and liveable city we will also live within our means. To do this we will continually seek new and innovative ways of providing more effective services to our residents while at the same time maximizing the value from every tax dollar.
We will manage short-term fiscal pressures with an eye on long-term fiscal sustainability, to maintain the financial health of the city and keep Kingston affordable for taxpayers.
Capitalizing on Our Community Assets:
As a smart and liveable city, we will invest not just in the bricks and mortar of Kingston but in our local arts and culture. We will work to fully implement the Culture Plan and the creation of cultural hubs across the city that will provide learning opportunities and greater access to the arts.
In our first 100 days, we will embrace and celebrate our local history and culture, from the Sir John A bicentennial celebration, to the opening of the Tett Centre. We will tell the incredible stories of Kingston so that all Canadians understand what an important role the City of Kingston has played in our nation’s history.
Another important asset in our community is our youth. As one of the youngest Councils ever to lead this city, we will demonstrate both a focus and determination to invest in our city’s young people.
We will work aggressively to end youth homelessness, we will engage our local educational institutions to ensure access to education.
And as Mayor I look forward to championing a made in Kingston youth employment strategy, as a means to help our young people get on the right career track career.
By working to engage youth in the important city and community issues of today, we will help our youth to develop into the community leaders and future politicians of tomorrow.
As a smart city we will capitalize on the tremendous skills, knowledge and perspective of our residents by making it easier for people to engage in our community, and making local government more transparent and more accessible.
Embracing Big Picture Thinking:
As a smart city we will think big with a unified city vision to move our great city forward.
As a council we will make sure to investment in all parts of our city, from a community centre in the east end to the revitalization of the Rideau Heights in the north end, from redevelopment of the north block in the downtown to the improvement of city services across the west end and the rural area.
I am convinced that the diversity of our community is one of our greatest strengths. And 16 years after amalgamation, we will act as one city more now than ever before.
In this same spirit of innovation, we will embrace a big picture view not only across a political dimension, but also one in which as a local government we embrace the power of partnership with the many community organizations and pillars of our city.
As a smart city we will work to capitalize on one of the great advantages that a mid-size community like ours has over the larger urban centres to the east and west of us: the ability to bring representatives from every sphere of our community to the same table.
When we do that, we develop a strategic direction where our entire community moves forward as one – where we are working not in isolation or at cross-purposes, but moving in the same direction where we look for win-wins, avoid duplication of effort and offer services more effectively and more efficiently.
As Mayor I extend my hand in partnership to our community organizations, to our local businesses and neighbourhood associations, to our public sector employers and our post-secondary institutions.
To quote Sir John A himself, we will be one people: one in necessity, one in business, one in trade, one in prosperity and one in prospects for the future.
A Smart Council:
And finally, as a smart city we will set the example of a new brand of politics in this Chamber – an atmosphere that encourages intelligent and reasoned debate, where we each come with an open mind and work to make the best possible decision in every case.
We will have differences of opinion around this table, but those differences will only serve to challenge us and to ensure we arrive at the best possible decisions.
We will show our community it is possible to disagree, but still maintain a mutual respect and attitude of teamwork that at the end of the day focuses on moving our city forward together.
In an age where politics with the other orders of government has fallen into shallow talking points and towing party lines, I am confident the debate and discussion in this chamber will be a model of independent thinking, conviction and decision-making.
And so ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you ready to roll up my sleeves and to get to work – to get to work making this vision of Kingston as a truly smart and liveable city a reality.
And as long as I am mayor I will work to promote Kingston with every fibre of my being. I believe in the greatness of our city, and I am committed to the work of realizing our full potential.
Members of Council, our journey together begins tonight. We’ve been handed the baton, and now it’s time to run. We’ve been granted the opportunity to make one of the best cities in Canada even better. And we will. We will move Kingston forward together.
And so ladies and gentlemen, I’m asking you to join with me in embracing this new vision and identity for Kingston. We will be a smart and liveable city. In our local economy, in our community planning, in the promotion of wellbeing and quality of life for our residents, in our pursuit of fiscal sustainability and big picture thinking we can and we will show the province, the nation and the world what a 21st century city can be.