Kingston City Council to weigh public input as part of 2023-2026 strategic planning

Photo by Rick Couper.

With three meetings scheduled across as many nights next week, Kingston City Council will begin strategic planning sessions on Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2023.

The meetings, to occur in the Committee of the Whole format, will take place at the Innovation Hub on St. Lawrence College campus from 5 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 28, Wednesday, Mar. 29, and Thursday, Mar. 30, 2023. As previously reported, the planning sessions will be facilitated by StrategyCorp.

An integral part of the process will see Council presented with the results of the public engagement around strategic planning, which have been published as a report to Council ahead of the meetings.

The 143-page report outlines how the public engagement campaign, which launched on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, was to “generate input from members of the community to help inform the direction of the 2023-2026 Strategic Plan.” According to the report, which is authored by CAO Lanie Hurdle, community members were able to participate in the public engagement through:

  • The Get Involved platform on the City of Kingston website (which was open until Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023)
  • City Matters (City of Kingston e-newsletter)
  • In-person pop-up sessions during Family Day at City-owned recreational facilities
  • Ballot boxes at community centres and City Hall
  • Phone calls to the appropriate departments
  • Email to the City’s “Customer Relationship Management tool”
  • An alternative format by request

The City also engaged in the use of social media platforms, circulated information through the media, and posted signage to encourage engagement in the opportunity for public input, according to the report.

The document goes on to detail the breakdown of responses received through the public engagement process. A total of 460 people provided feedback, 373 (81 per cent) of whom completed online surveys, with 61 people (13.3 per cent) contributing in person, and 26 (5.7 per cent) contributing via the Customer Relationship Management email tool or social media. Pointing to an uptick in public engagement with the strategic planning process and municipal matters, 99 of those who participated through the Get Involved platform on the City’s website created new accounts on the platform in order to do that.

“Eight focused conversations were held with partner agencies, including one conversation in French,” the report notes.

According to the report, public engagement focused on two central questions:

  • What are you most concerned about today?
  • What would you like Kingston to be known for in 2026?

The collected public input was divided by themes “to assist Council with their priority setting activities. According to the report, the following “themes” were identified based on the frequency they appeared in the public feedback (and are listed in descending order of the number of responses those themes appeared in):

  • Housing availability and affordability (178 responses)
  • Homelessness (122 responses)
  • Climate change and the environment (121 responses)
  • Road infrastructure and safety, including cycling and traffic calming (99 responses)
  • Access to health care, including mental health and addiction support (80 responses)
  • Poverty and food insecurity (30 responses)
  • Aquatics (14 responses)
Table displaying the frequency of emerging themes from the total public engagement responses submitted to the City of Kingston regarding 2023-2026 strategic planning. Graphic via report to City Council/City of Kingston.

The report goes on to break down the most common comments/input received through the public engagement process regarding each of the above themes. Full documentation of public input is also included later in the report. The most common feedback on the themes, as listed in the report, are:

Housing availability and affordability

  • Housing prices edging more and more people out of home ownership
  • The need for more true-to-title affordable housing, particularly for low-income families, seniors, and those on financial support programs; building true-to-title affordable housing (priced at 30 per cent of household income)

Homelessness

  • The need for more resources for the unhoused population
  • The need for more housing and thoughtful land use to address the needs of the unhoused population
  • Better treatment for the unhoused population, as well as those with addiction issues

Climate change and the environment

  • The need for protection of wild/natural spaces
  • The need for stronger policies around addressing climate change
  • Further protection of wildlife, greenspaces, and waterfront

Road infrastructure and safety (including cycling and transit)

  • The need for roundabouts as opposed to four-way stop intersections
  • Addressing unconnected sidewalks/increasing walkability
  • Addressing dangerous or nonexistent bike lanes
  • Addressing potholes and uneven roads

Access to health care (including mental health and addiction treatment)

  • Addressing the lack of family doctors/physicians
  • Addressing hospital wait times
  • Addressing the ill people within the unhoused population
  • More access to health care for pregnant people

Poverty and food insecurity

  • The need for living wages/basic income
  • Housing prices edging people out of local home ownership

Aquatics

  • The need for more swimming programs for children
  • The need for a swimming pool in the west end

Full documentation on response through the public engagement process regarding the 2023-2026 strategic planning — including responses to long-form in-person interviews/long-form questionnaires. can be viewed here. As always, City Council meetings are open to the public – including the three strategic planning meetings from March 28 to 30 at St. Lawrence College’s Innovation Hub (100 Portsmouth Avenue, Room 22070) – however, unlike most Council meetings, the strategic planning sessions will not be streamed live by the City of Kingston.

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