Jason here. The referendum meeting was not a workshop meeting but rather a special meeting of Council. Perhaps Councillor Downes knows the difference as he (again) got into an argument with the mayor over point of privilege- quoting Bourinot’s and Robert’s rules of order, saying that he had the right to speak on the 1st and 2nd passing of by-laws. The mayor declared that he had already spoken. He did speak on the third passing of the bylaw to congratulate Councillor Hutchison on the work he had done on the referendum question. Indeed Hutchison deserved praise, but one wonders if it was necessary to confront the mayor as he (Downes) did.
Council voted unanimously on clarity. The reference to the Central Business District has been taken out of the referendum question as a murky addition. Jason blames the city lawyer, who declared the original question clear, for the problem. What is not clear, is whether there needs to be a change in the Official Plan and zoning bylaws to eliminate the possibility of a casino in the Central Business District. A new Council – elected in October of 2014 – would not be bound by the decision of this Council on the C.B.D. In fact, the new Council is not bound on a Casino at all, unless there was a vote of 50% of electors and 50% plus 1 voted in favour or not in favour. Given the low turnout and the % of non-voting students, this is an unlikely scenario. I can actually imagine a future Council voting in favour of a Casino in the downtown. The west end Councillors clearly hate the downtown and remember, it only takes 7/13. Fortunately, the feeling against a casino is strong and would probably overwhelm those who would like to punish the downtown.
Jason here. Tonight’s Council meeting began and ended with a Workshop format, whatever that is- examining the urban growth strategy .Commissioner Hurdle and the CEO of Utilities Kingston gave extensive reports on why the Urban Growth Strategy boundaries would remain the same. Intensification is the answer. Intensification is going to change this city. Apparently we have room for enough units to satisfy provincial demands-the Alcan site , the Collins Bay Penitentiary site,and the Clogg’s Rd(off Creekford Rd,)site.While all depend on others for development, Staff will ask that the properties be developed. Interesting statistics emerged : of the 6876 building permits issued, 3451 were for single family houses. Over 7 years the trend has been to more multi-family houses- row houses and apartment buildings, than single family homes. Councillor Scott observed that when we run out of single family homes, prices may rise as they have done in Toronto and Vancouver. Neill pointed out that 7/800 units were in Williamsville. Which brings forward the rebuilding of the fire corner. At the end of the meeting a motion to include fire precautions while building(brick exteriors, fire proof materials and possibly sprinklers) was put forward. This motion passed unanimously,as it did not try to change the building code to prevent wooden building- the province is contemplating 6 storeys not the current 5. This was a sensible motion which did not draw a parallel between Patry and Pilon. The latter appeared in delegation to say that the Heritage committee had added $300,000 to the project at 169-171 Wellington St. This resulted in a motion to overturn the heritage committee. Pilon is seen as a responsible developer who tries to accommodate the city’s need for heritage conservation. The motion was passed. Apparently the building will be the same as the old, but new. The Master Plan for Doug Fluhrer Park was presented and passed as was the decision – reached in Committee of the Whole to purchase 5 Cataraqui St and properties on Rideau Street to accommodate the Wellington Street Extension. So, I guess the Wellington St. Extension is going ahead. We haven’t heard the last of this question. Opinion on it is certainly divided, but we have yet to hear about the affect of the 3rd crossing on the downtown. Jason wonders if we will. So far the downtown merchants have been mute on the subject. The park, in the north end, has been neglected and all efforts to rehabilitate it so far, have included an extension of Wellington St.
So did Councillor Glover commit a breach of the procedural bylaw or the Code of Conduct? Well, Maybe! The Integrity Commissioner (George Rust D’Eye)in his report did not apply any sanctions to Councillor Glover, but was clear that he (Councillor Glover) did release to the public items – principally about the Integrity Commissioner and his cost-that were discussed during closed meetings. As Councillor Hector said- there is something for everyone to learn in the report which is now in the public domain. Principally, when does a councillor need to stand down when defeated in a democratic vote? This is dangerous territory. There have been many cases where Councillors have been defeated in the 7/6 votes that are common on Council. Do Councillors have the right to take their case to the public? Not if the basis for the disagreement is discussed in the closed session of Council, I imagine. However, if it is not, then I think that the Integrity Commissioner would not have a problem with it. The mayor seems very happy that the city has hired an Integrity Commissioner. He thinks that it adds to the transparency of City actions. The length of this report defeats any quest for transparency
And we are going to have a referendum on the Casino on the ballot in the municipal election. Councillor George supported the motion- a reflection of public opinion- although at the previous meeting Councillors did not support his motion to get public opinion on city-at-large voting. Jason does not think the question on the ballot IS precise as it asks the question on whether the City of Kingston should encourage a Casino everywhere but in the downtown. This is because the Council had already voted not to host a Casino in the downtown. The downtown is not delineated and many will not understand the reason for excluding the downtown. More to come, I’m sure!
Jason’s Commentary on the April 1st Kingston City Council meeting
Jason here. Just when you expect to hear something – it doesn’t happen. NOTHING, was said about the $35,000,000 the province will provide for a new secondary school. Jason expected to have Council reiterate, or not, that the Memorial Centre was NOT available. Nothing of the sort occurred. Perhaps it is too soon, after MPP Gerretsen’s announcement. Perhaps we can expect it at the next meeting. It has been said before, but the talker (Councillor Neill) certainly would not let that deter him.
What we did hear was a lot about the potential neurological effects of cell phone towers. Cell phone towers are a federal responsibility and it is hard to imagine a situation in which the municipality would have no input. But this is the case here. The Council chambers were full of, I assume, Calvin park residents who thought that the tower was too close to schools. And they are correct. The question was put to staff, to survey other municipalities, to see what, if anything could be done. An interesting aspect this question was the assertion that Guelph and Oakville had put a moratorium on such towers. The mayor explained that this was not the case (he must have checked). Those cities might want to place a moratorium, but they have no power to do so. This is an issue that will not go away. The city has to, and will, produce a cell tower policy. It, of course, will satisfy no one.
On the technological front, Council agreed with a staff recommendation to allow Dominion Voting Systems to provide, for the 2014 municipal election, with the possibility of using the same system in 2018 (telephone and internet voting) for the advance poll. This is an interesting move – and a small one – into on-line voting – voting should lend itself to the internet, but a risk free system has not yet been devised. Councillor Schell asked if there will be a phone number for those having trouble with the system. Yes, there will, and I bet it will be used a lot! Jason promises to test it.