My approach to economic development considers the four pillars of sustainability – economic, environmental, social and cultural – pursued simultaneously in a creative sustainable balance. Strong economic, neighbourhood, environmental and heritage initiatives are important for long term community and economic development and make Kingston an attractive place to live, visit and invest.
With my support, our City has done a fine job of providing the infrastructure necessary for economic development including the provision of serviced employment lands and infrastructure (water and sewer, electrical, gas and fibre optic cable) through the downtown Big Dig.
Most recently, as part of the City`s Smart City initiative, the City’s fibre optic cable company is seeking partnership with a firm to lay underwater cable from Toronto to Kingston. Brought ashore, this will increase connectivity and create the faster internet service needed to attract high tech companies and possibly a data centre.
This term my motion led to the initiating of the North King`s Town Secondary Plan process. This is an initiative I have pursued for years, recognizing the need to realize our north side potential. The NKTSP is studying the northern part of our district (Queen St. to John Counter St.; Division St. to the river): the historical, social, cultural, land use and transportation opportunities to enhance our neighbourhoods, businesses and employment prospects.
As part of this process I have also advocated the opening up of the Old Industrial Area (bounded roughly by Division, John Counter, Railway, and Montreal Sts) for renewed industrial, commercial and residential development. The Area employment prospects are important to our District.
I have been on KEDCO Board of Directors twice: 2006-2010 and 2014-2018, being elected by Council members to represent them. Both tenures came just after difficult times for KEDCO (2003-05; 2013-2014), when public confidence had been shaken and reforms were necessary. I helped institute those governance reforms. Now KEDCO is a much more open and transparent organization with strong governance and management pursuing positive, sustainable development strategies.
Recently KEDCO and the City have facilitated new employment opportunities such as Feihe (baby formula; the largest food-related foreign investment in Canada in the last ten years) and Frulact (yogurt fruit fillings). KEDCO continues to supply business planning and training opportunities to local firms and start-up companies.
I have supported the formation of Tourism Kingston to better co-ordinate the marketing and visitor services needed to successfully promote our city.
I have worked hard to maintain quality public services in the City of Kingston and against threats of privatization. Twice in my Council tenure I have initiated a Council resolution to improve the City’s road and sidewalk snow plowing and removal (2008; 2013). As the City’s road system grows by 5 km a year. I will continue to advocate that the City’s budget must keep pace with development and resident and business needs.
Downtown Economic Development
I am very supportive of downtown economic development. I keep in touch with local businesses through drop-ins and as a (alternate) member of the Downtown Business Improvement Association (DBIA), and connect with community groups such as DARN. I am concerned about business costs, parking and vacancies in the downtown and have liaised with owners to understand their concerns.
Downtown economic development, to be sustainable and positive, cannot be reduced to a simple development versus anti-development divide. Very few people are pro-development at any cost or anti-development to the point of `no development`. NIMBYism tends to be almost non-existent as long as neighbourhoods are protected and concerns about heritage and neighbourhood fabric are recognized and met. The downtown core is primarily 3-4 story buildings. The current by-law allows for 9-10 storeys; that in itself is the kind of residential intensification needed to support demand for commercial businesses. According to developer documents and expert advice, nine-ten stories are financially viable. Kingston`s best future lies in pursuing a creative sustainable balance, allowing appropriate development while protecting heritage values and downtown neighbourhoods. We should follow our motto: Kingston – `Where History and Innovation Thrive.“