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.
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
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.
Jason here. In analyzing the reason for short meetings one is left with the inevitable conclusion that the deeply conservative mayor and the left leaning Council have not yet come across a divisive issue. There are many potential ones but most obvious are the issue of intensification vs neighbourhood concerns. Perhaps they need Councillor Glover to shake things up! On the other hand, the self-muzzling of Councillor Neill has been a great improvement- ‘never use one word when 100 will make your point better’ add to this a mayor who doesn’t feel the need to speak on too many items(unlike the last mayor)- although he does speak on some, where his voice is respected. Could it be because he does not use it often?
High on the agenda was the solar farm in Countryside district and the staff response to solar farms in general as they will present it to the Rural Advisory Committee. This district has seen a great turnover in representatives. Perhaps Councillor Allen has more staying power… Anyway the merger of the Ontario Power Authority and the -Independent Electricity Systems Operator has left the municipalities with more power to object- just. – Not the power of the Planning Act- in zoning matters they could say NO. Clearly the province doesn’t want that or no solar or wind farms would be built. So instead they have given points for community support. In this case staff has relied on a previously prepared report on landscaping and site design, which, although it contains no support for decommissioning a solar farm (Perhaps this is part of the environmental assessment) is very comprehensive and no doubt in use across the province. What will the Rural Advisory Committee make of all this? I think, among other things that they will feel important- something that has been missing in Rural issues.as Councillor Allen is quoted as saying- Countryside gets all the things no one else wants- garbage mainly.
Another issue was that of the Sustainability agreement for the future. What is the level of community involvement with which the Sustainability group has been charged? It is not great, I think. In spite of the very impressive list of community sponsors, much needs to be done to make Sustainability a community endeavour. Welcome though the four pillars of sustainability, economic, environmental, social and cultural, were, can economic sustainability exist when most people just want the snow shovelled? Maybe the problem is with the word ‘ sustainability’
The city has gone out on a limb and funding it-creating a separate stand-alone group rather than taking it in to the municipality. The funding will decrease as time goes on, so the group will have to rely on funds from others. There has been impressive thrust on the cultural front when the city realized that the city did not even recognize one of the pillars-culture. Also on the agenda was Arts Funding- something that did not exist a few years ago. Today the funding stands at over $500,000 disbursed by the Arts Council on behalf of the city.
It was a meaty meeting – there were five presentations- two from Blue Dot (which Jason had never heard of) one from Sustainability Kingston and two others which remain forgettable, plus a petition from Lisa Osanic’s constituents.