Category Archives: Kingston City Council

Retirement beckons

March 22. 2016 Council meeting

Jason here. This is my last review of Council for Kingston electors. It was an interesting meeting having as it did the long awaited Waterfront Master Plan and the interesting debate on Pharmacare. What could this Council do but pass it. After all they had passed a motion in support of the Guaranteed Annual Income perhaps the first municipality to do so, in spite of the fact that this is a federal responsibility and Pharmacare is provincial for that matter. It doesn’t matter whose responsibility it is, the mayor will not call it’ out of order’.

One of the delegations was David McDonald who has been the main force behind a renewed waterfront. While he was generally praising the work of the consultants who worked on the plan he did wonder why the budget for renewal was for so long- 30 years. His proposal was ignored during the limited discussion on the Plan. I think this (the Waterfront Master Plan) will rise again during discussions on Council Priorities. It is too important to overlook. The City’s main attraction is its waterfront and all Councillors know it.

One of the undiscussed aspects of the meeting was the capital projects done and worked upon for 2016. Apparently there’s a report every quarter although Jason failed to notice it last quarter. This did not include those items that were put out for bidding. For that one must go into open government is making a great change in how the city operates.  There seem to be a wealth of Public meetings one can go to and believe it or not your opinion matters. The public meeting is evolving. Gone are the days when people were shouted down, for saying things that the majority didn’t agree with.   Now the public meeting is a place to gather opinion and the report will tell us how that opinion was used. So get rid of your apathy go to a meeting and give your opinion. There is an Institute of Public Participation we have to thank for this. Work on this will continue but the outline is there. Retirement beckons. Thanks.

 

Green House Gases

Jason here. Well it was a short meeting- only an hour with only two Councillors missing- Boehme and Holland although many others were late- a little snow, I guess. This was a Special Meeting of Council, the regular meeting the night before had been cancelled because of the snow. Don’t know what Cogeco did to fill in the slot, but they (Cogeco) were there last night to film the meeting, even though they were not showing it!

The changes to the Rideau Heights plan passed without a whimper or a protestation last night on the referral from Planning Board. This is a mistake on top of a mistake. The first Rideau heights plan- to put too many subsidized units together was a mistake and the most recent plan which raises the density to 75 units per acre is a mistake as well. The only thing that can save Rideau Heights now is a mix of buildings. Jason bets it won’t happen!

 GHG (greenhouse gases) are very much on the city’s mind. So much so that the City’s Paul MacLatchy, director of Environment and Sustainability is working on it, so is KEAF so is Sustainability Kingston. In a presentation by Ruth Noordegraaf the President of Sustainability Kingston, they hope Kingston will   (with others) become a founding partner in the GHG initiative. Sustainability Kingston is an interesting beast, in that the city gave birth to it, although they did not take it into the City, making it instead a non-profit, group – with admitted ties to the city. (Much like Fanny May’s relationship to the Feds south of the border) Should it fail, it will be a black mark on this Council and the one before it. Anyway, they will establish benchmarks and see how everyone is doing in reducing GHG. The question was raised was $10,000 enough “Yes” if other partners are found. If you think that the environment has taken over Sustainability Kingston, you would be right. But this passed unanimously as wished by Councillor Neill.

They will (so they say,) be reporting regularly. One should hear from them often – with three Cities creations guiding them!

Under New Motions a request by Councillor Boehme that the request for a “bump- up” to Planning  Board of a request by Tamarack Corp for a commercial plaza to have a site plan reviewed for issues such as Traffic and parking and landscaping was deferred to the next meeting of Council when presumably Councillor Boehme will be present.

 

 

The Shorts win again

The Shorts win again

Jason here. The meeting was over at 8.19 clearly there is a feeling on Council that everything does not need to be challenged. Mind you, there were no presentations, delegations or briefings and there were no recommendations from the CAO- those are always controversial! (they are matters of policy which should be decided by Council). On the minds of everyone on Council was the Special Meeting of Council on February 3rd & 23rd and the format of same. It will be unstructured and the public will have the floor if they want it! The meeting tomorrow at 6 o’clock will be about the end of funding by the Feds. This was expected and the city has to make allowance for it, Lanie Hurdle, Commissioner, Community Services will introduce the Consultants who have been hired to sort out the ramifications of the End of Funding., an issue judged to be too complex for a regular Council meeting .although the issue will result in controversy, it is not sufficient to warrant a Special Meeting of Council and could have been folded into the previous night’s meeting which ended at 8.19 a record! Not so, the meeting on the 23rd which will be the meeting on the changes to the Official Plan- mandated by the prov. for a five year review and particularly because of the new concept of ‘Nodes and Corridors’ introduced by the consultants hired to complete the review of the OP.( not SHS consulting!)

This is not the end of the Official Plan update. There will be another public meeting in April the OP will then go to Planning committee and will then will be presented to Council.

Good news from Rideaucrest; all the stats with exception of ‘falls’ meet or exceed the averages set by the Regional in this case, the Southeast LHIN, resulted in the recommendation by staff, was accepted that the existing contracts with Extendicare be renewed for two years when the cost( $342,000 plus tax) will disappear from the operating budget. In Addition plans were made for electric car plug ins along 401 – a move in to the new age? At least a small step to reducing Greenhouse gases. Maybe, if cars use it- anyway, it will not cost anything- for now! And that was it. No questions on how much the administrator from Extendicare was paid. No protest that cell phone towers were a federal responsibility – approval was given to two added carriers-Rogers and Wind Mobile (recently bought by Shaw) to the tower as required to prevent proliferation of towers. The tower is on the Centre 70 site and is owned by Bell Mobility. Is Council doing its job? You judge.

 

 

The Big Short

Jason here. It was a very short meeting. 8.48 yes, that is right – 8, not 9 or10. We began with a feel- good presentation by jimmy Hassan who in deeply- accented English said that it was a big deal for him to speak before Council. He was following up on his suggestion that Council endorse having apprentices from high schools. They did. This has the potential of relieving Councillors of the heavy burden they carry. I hope that they are organized enough to take advantage of it. Hassan was after a not-very enthusiastic appeal by Doug Richie, the CEO of the BIA appealing to Council to pass the BIA as a ‘tourist district’.

The meeting had two focuses. One on the declaring the BIA a tourist area, to allow retail establishments to open , if they want to, on Good Friday, Christmas day and New Year’s Day.. There will be a public meeting on the possible opening- and that was passed. When it finally comes back to Council, expect a motion to include the entire city. The second focus was on Councillor McLaren’s very lengthy proposal re climate change. This (climate change) and what the city can do to help was sent to KEAF, which is interesting as the City employs Paul McLatchie as director of Conservation and Sustainability. This motion was not sent to him. Obviously Councillors expect McLatchie and KEAF to work together as they will. I wonder if KEAF will just ask for a report from McLatchie or dig in and do the research itself. This (KEAF) one of the committees that the CAO wished Council would disband as staffing has made it redundant. The mayor stepped in (although he should have made his opposition to whom to send the motion to as an amendment to the original motion) It passed anyway- . The first part on Climate Change and the second part (to whom to send the motion) was not passed. I don’t know enough of the protocol on New Motions to make a judgement but I expect this to be on the agenda at the next Council meeting.

 

Richards Wins

Aside from the inductees into the sports Hall of Fame- and I will admit, I had not heard of any of them, the meeting was just a prelude to the main action, which of course was, the giving of the contract for the preliminary design of the third crossing to Richards, at much more than the second company which answered the RFP? What were we getting for the extra? That is the question that Councillor Candon expressed so eloquently. What followed was a very intelligent debate on how the City plans for the future. Of course the city will have to stand in line for federal or provincial funding. Councillor Hutchison was ruled out of order when he tried to insert the question of ‘do we really need it’ and’ what are the long-term effects’. Sprawl was all Jason heard before he (Hutchison) was cut off. In the end, the vote was seven for the high bid, 5 against. It was clear during the debate that Councillors had not been given enough information on the first go- round they were struggling with the issue. It would be interesting to know what was in the minds of those who voted ‘no’. Was it the cost? Was it sprawl? Was it ‘we don’t need it’? The 3rd crossing has never had a good airing. What is the proper place to debate the Third Crossing and the Wellington Street Extension? Perhaps during debate of the Transportation Master Plan. Council has a habit of letting these large studies go by while paying some attention to the overall, paying little attention to the details. In this case the TMP (transportation Master Plan) was hung up on statistics for future ridership on buses. Is council doing its job? Probably not. The TMP was deferred, so maybe the debate will happen yet. Watch for it, it should be a blockbuster. The deferral does beg the question on why the preliminary design for the bridge went ahead of the TMP. When was the deferral of the TMP to take place? When we are ready for it, and not before! The Transportation Master Plan UPDATE 2015 outlines rules for congestion and road buildings in spite of being deferred is a major piece of work.

Good Debate!

Jason here. All would be impressed by the quality of debate last evening. What is going on? First of all, the quieting of Councillor Neill has been impressive. Secondly, the mayor must have something to do with it! But what, Jason does not know. Maybe it is just a steadying influence. Maybe he spoke to Councillor Neill.

Third is the addition of Councillors Allen and McLaren- the latter between Neill and Hutchison. Maybe it makes a difference where one sits. So far we have not heard from Candon. Boehme is quiet, as is Turner. 

The much anticipated reform of non-statutory advisory committees happened last night. Gone is the near campus advisory committees as dysfunctional and the Memorial Centre advisory committee and the non-working Kingston Entitlement Access Committee, merged are the Municipal Heritage Committee and the Museums and Collections Advisory committee. This may have to be broken up again as ‘heritage’ is very important to Kingston. The Rural Advisory Committee made the cut as did the Housing and Homelessness Committee although the latter was advised to meet less often. All committees were advised to submit an annual report (they should have anyway) KEAF- drawing as it has on the experience and expertise of Queen’s, St. Lawrence and RMC and CRCA was the committee that Council hated to abandon, in fact it was saved by being thrown the carrot of climate change later in the meeting by McLaren and Allen. The environmental committee has been overwhelmed by in-house experts and the ‘environmental ‘ portion of Sustainability. Perhaps ‘ overwhelmed is not the word. In fact this committee is the last one -as staff grows- to appoint members with experience and expertise. So – over to them re climate change rather than the city’s staff.

Also under the gun was the City’s RFP procedure-. Councillor Hutchison’s amendment for future revisions to the Transportation Master plan which passed 7/5 was an example of the inadequacy of existing RFP procedure. Jason has thought for a long time that familiarity with Kingston should be worth at least 5 points

 

It came to pass but didn’t

Jason here, well, it did not pass. It needed 2/3 .or nine votes to be reconsidered after Councillor Stroud who voted with the majority the first time around, changed his mind- or his constituents changed it for him. (We are talking about the reconsideration of the new high school on the Memorial Centre property)The subject of much press- print and otherwise. Perhaps now all this energy will be put into the near campus neighbourhood committee however long it can continue. (It has been declared (dysfunctional by staff) The committees will be considered on the Dec 1st meeting. This was at the end of the meeting. Bear with me while I take you through the whole meeting. We were first addressed by presentations- only five minutes, but much longer with questions.  Frank Dixon with a well thought out alternative to the Wellington Street extension later on was Ms Dowling  of the prison farms. Ms Dowling has changed her approach. It is no longer just about cows but about food-local food and the farm land therefore should be protected. This is similar to the petition presented by Councillor Hutchison in that it was about the grass roots and what they are concerned about- in Councillor Hutchison’s case it was about the height of the proposed building on the Capital theatre site downtown. Then we were talked at about Green House gases by Mr. Mabee and the Kingston Transportation Master Plan (KTMP) it would appear that Aecon did the original plan and also the mandated ( by the province) update.  There was no shortage of criticism for this mistake. Perhaps the RFP process is at fault. Councillors supported the mayor’s amendment to the KTMP which called for more aggressive targets on transit ridership. There was a feeling among Councillors that KTMP was still flawed hence two motions for deferral- one to the next Council meeting and a subsequent one until staff could find a way forward, through a meeting with Councillors The KTMP was critiqued by one of the presenters  Preston Schiller whom I gather is an academic. Neill asked how he (Schiller) would grade KTMP? I gather from Schiller’s response that he would not give it a high mark. Perhaps that is because profs like their own interpretation of events fed back to them! Also presenters- two ex- militaries who said that they were NOT opposed, contrary to popular belief, to a High School on the Memorial Centre site.”

1160-1674 Sydenham Rd was finally passed. Councillor Allen voted against it, having discussed it in csmera and at the other meeting in November. However it was ‘bumped up ‘to Planning Committee to make sure that Tomlinson does what has been suggested for the site.  The site is an existing industrial site in a residential area. (in Councillor Allen’s Ward).

Also passed was the Rideau Heights regeneration plan. Jason wonders if the Heights can ever overcome the prejudices that exist re the Heights if the density is greater- as the plan suggests- the density has been doubled. This is what you get when the consultant is from out of town, well-intentioned but wrong.

Yes, it was a long meeting. Perhaps the first to need an extension past 11 o’clock.

 

 

Defer Defer Defer

Jason here. Last night’ Council meeting was all about ‘planning matters’ all other items of interest being deferred (including the Transportation Master Plan- (the staff person was unable to attend)

First we heard from the owner of the property at 218 Green Bay Rd on how much it was going to cost him to renovate the building in Barriefield (where else!). Then we heard from the President of the Barriefield Village Heritage group who told us why the building should not be torn down (most of the houses on Green Bay Road appear to be new and BIG.) Council voted to go with the heritage committee which went against the staff report that said that the building should be demolished. Toward the end of the meeting Councillor Allen asked for a reconsideration of the vote that had occurred on 218 Green Bay Rd because the staff report appeared not to have asked for a Heritage Easement. Staff replied that the owner had not asked for an easement even though they were asked if they wanted one. Apparently such a reconsideration at the same meeting, does not need 2/3, only a majority of Councillors- this caused a ruffle among those who determine voting protocol. In the end the Councillors voted the same way- in spite of the reconsideration or- perhaps because of it. The option is now with the owners of ask for a Heritage Easement which could restrict the type of house he could ask for. This is an interesting question that will occur again and again. Hopefully, the Sydenham Ward Heritage District won’t cause as much stress.

Next up was the question of ‘ secondary suites’ When is a duplex a duplex? When it’s more than a secondary suite- or more than 40% . A secondary suite is only 40 % of the area of the main building- a duplex can be equal in size. Hence the building in Westbrook which has servicing constraints- (sewer)-should be withdrawn from the secondary suite area…it should be in closed session. While Jason agrees that it should be in closed session, it will be hard to overcome the motion of Boehme and McLaren that deferred further discussion of the problem area until the next Council meeting. This is a problem area because it is an industrial area above 401and not below 401 where all the industrial areas are now. As Councillor Allen said, this is the area of the highest residential density in his Ward. No one (with the exception of Councillor George) knows how the zoning got the way it has. It appears to be Institutional but allows Industrial uses.

It would appear to Jason that an inordinate amount of time is being spent on Heritage issues.

Where is Glover when you need him?

Third crossing now?

Third crossing now?

Jason here. Finally, we have a sitting member Former Mayor Mark Gerretsen of the same party as the government. Will this mean we finally will get funding for the third crossing? Perhaps although it is not yet ‘shovel ready’. The access ramps have yet to be constructed and the design of the bridge and the decision whether four lanes or two to be determined. Last but certainly not least the access to the downtown – the Wellington Street extension passed, or not. All this requires councillors of great foresight. I hope we have same.

The meeting last night was a meaty one. Taken up mostly by a debate on the parking garage proposed by Homestead on the north block and by a presentation by the CAO on how to accomplish one of the City’s priorities in the strategic plan clicking on ‘foster open government’. Who knows what he was talking about?  Councillor Schell made the comment that she needed a librarian to find the information that was now on the city site. I know what she means! Anyway we are in for an upgrade to the site. If you want to know how, please check out the link.  I think the CAO is perhaps ahead of most Councillors and the public as I could understand the questions but not the delegation by the Chief Information Officer , Mr. Johnson. Somewhere on the city web site is an examination of parking in the downtown area. Apparently development will kill up to 400 spaces and they will have to be replaced as Councillor Allen (Countryside) remarked as his constituents drive into the City. The proposed parking garage would replace 278. Debate centred around the cost of the structures and whether or not, approving the parking arrangement gave Homestead a leg up in the planning approval process although the motion said it did not.

Councillor Stroud moved that perception was the problem. Council had to not be perceived as giving Homestead a bye in the planning process. However his motion was defeated. For the life of me I cannot see the opinion of staff that changing the motion would change the buy/sell agreement- the city will buy the parking garage from Homestead for $18 million – It is a lot of money and this is just the beginning! Council had to give Homestead pre- approval whether they liked it or not.

Sandwiched between these contentious items were plans by utilities Kingston for the future and what they are working on now. Hard to understand, but apparently we are going to have smart meters that talk to one another and we are going to be able to see what electricity and water we consume on a moment to moment basis.

This in conjunction with smart appliances will all be easily hacked by my grandkids in Australia. Welcome to the new world.

As well, we are going to embrace the service economy. We are going to be polite. We are going to respect the owners – the electorate. So we do already- what’s new?

KEDCO KEDCO KEDCO

Jason here. Transparency- what does it mean? KEDCO has been accused by Kingston First, of lack thereof. I suppose that it means that the number of jobs that have been created should be documented, what they are and who fills the jobs. Then, and only then, will Council be able to decide if the money spent on KEDCO is money well spent. I think this is a job for the CAO? Are the jobs all small business? Then that gives direction. Has money and time been spent on attracting the BIG Gorillas of the world or will they come (or not!) anyway? Is this time and $ well spent? The CAO has kept his hands off KEDCO, treating Garrah more like a partner than one of his team. Time to step in I think! First, is KEDCO aligned with the Strategic priorities of the city?  Probably not. As the City is firmly on the path to sustainability and KEDCO represents only one pillar- Economic- one wonders if Council can support KEDCO at all. Be prepared for a motion to declare KEDCO dysfunctional from Councillor Hutchison, seconded by Councillor Neill.

What is the CAO going to do with non-statutory advisory committees? We will find out on Dec.1, for that is when the fireworks have been referred to. To merge, or eliminate them is what. It stands to reason that some committees over time lose their way, lose quorum or fail in their core role which is to advise Hence, the near-campus neighbourhood and KEAF will be put to bed- the latter because their role has been taken over by in-house experts, the former was said to be dysfunctional.  I have no knowledge of the near campus committee, but it seems that the items that should have been on their agenda were well worth talking about. Perhaps the AMS has taken over.

This happens when individuals are appointed as representatives of a group. They carry the group approach with them. All we need are individuals of good intent. What do you make of the merger of the Heritage Committee and the Museums and Collections advisory committee. Is the Heritage realllly devoid of culture? What becomes of designations that have been lagging? .

All in all an interesting meeting capped by a motion on safety by the mayor. May he remain so careful about the ideas he adopts.