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.
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
Step by Step…?
Council came one step closer to buying the Dry Dock and the Marine Museum last night when they went towards creating a’ project’ zone. Next a brownfield designation which allows a potential developer relief from taxes for three years. The mayor was quite emphatic that the city must do everything in its power to assist the Marine Museum. Sounds as though Mr. West has got to our mayor! I wonder if purchase of the Marine Museum is in the City’s future? That – more than purchase of the Dry Dock would cause a municipal crisis. It is interesting that the problem has been solved- the feds did it! They did not take proper care of the site while it was in their control. Should they have done away with the wooden piles that underlie the dock? Should they have, in fact, surrounded the dock with steel as is now projected? Probably. This was the site of building ships in the Second World War. They (the Feds), certainly left the site in a mess. The west side of the dock, where ships were launched is decayed, and the dock itself is unsafe!
The property was not included in the Brownfields area as the “program was not intended to subsidize the cleanup of properties owned and contaminated while being operated by other levels of government.”. Perhaps their failure was the reason the Feds put so much money and time into the Dry Dock. Who knows what has gone on behind the scenes, but I’d bet Homestead has had a hand in everything.
Of interest was (finally), the consideration of Councillor Neill’s motions to alter the procedural by-law. As the previous mayor said “if you don’t like it, change it” so Neill tried to give movers an extra minute to speak to an amendment and, in a separate motion, to overrule the chair (mayor). Both motions were quite sensibly referred to the administrative policies committee later (not this week). The mayor stepped gently into this quagmire and was relieved when they were deferred. Clearly, if there is not a procedural committee- which there is not, then these items are too complicated to discuss in Council. I don’t think Councillor Neill will succeed in committee. The rest of Council seems quite happy with the procedural by- law as it is. The committee is one of the standing committees of Council consisting (with the exception of Councillor Osanic) of first term Councillors- Boehme, Allen, Candon, Holland, and Stroud. Unless they create a sub- committee and include Neill, he is not there.
And you will be happy to know that in spite of losing about 30% of potable water, our water is in fact drinkable as attested by the CEO of Utilities Kingston. Good for us, or good for him!