Hall Monitor: A Capital Plan!

Strategic plan, Kingston, Ontario
This is the first of a series looking at our city council’s strategic planning sessions and the resulting document. At the time of this writing, neither the final draft nor the final strategic plan have been presented or approved by council. The information below is based on observations and drafts made available at the time of it’s writing and is subject to change.

On April 27th and 28th, city council convened at the Donald Gordon Conference Centre to begin a three-part workshop which would result in the creation of the city’s strategic plan: a document that would help shape and define the priorities and direction for council through it’s term ending in 2014. These first two sessions were full of discussion, debate and large index cards full of ideas and coloured voting dots. The result of those evenings was a draft of six priorities for the following three and a half years. They were:

  1. Maintain and enhance infrastructure
  2. Enable economic development
  3. Rejuvenate brown fields
  4. Facilitate affordable housing
  5. Create and protect green spaces
  6. Develop proactive community plans

On May 31st, council again met for a planning session, this time to discuss tax changes and prioritizing the capital infrastructure projects that fall below item number 1 above. The discussion and debate was civil (much of the time), but ran far longer than expected, leaving little time for tax discussion. In the end, nine projects were on the list and were placed in the following (not finalized: Councillor Reitzel was absent) order:

  1. Expansion of John Counter Boulevard to four lanes: This much-needed expansion and overpass walked away with the votes, putting it clearly on top of the priority list. The project is expected to cost a total $70 million, but is “shovel-ready” according to the CAO’s comments.
  2. Tie Invest $5 million in affordable housing; Complete phase 2 of the 701 Division Street project: The affordable housing priority is mostly self-explanatory, with a reminder that an ‘investment’ doesn’t always mean a buy-or-build project. This money could be used to subsidize projects, used as attractions to developers and so on. The project at 701 Division Street is the city’s offices and consists of buildings for maintenance and storage. It has a $30M-$40M price tag.
  3. Expansion and re-construction of Wellington St: This task has a #35 Million price tag on it and was, interestingly, divided in two. Priority was placed on the secion north of Montreal St.
  4. Tie Action Plan for the Third Crossing; Expand the airport: I probably don’t have to speak much to the Third Crossing, it has been ongoing and will continue. It also has the heftiest price tag: $120M. The airport expansion weighs in at $10M and is on the list in an attempt to turn it into a viable transportation hub and attract more (and international?) airlines.
  5. Capital Investments in Transit: The transit plans would include things like new garages, shelters, priority lanes and such. The price? $25 – $35 million.
  6. New Aquatic Centre: The people have spoken on this one: They want a pool. It’s second-last on the list, though, and holds a price of $32 million.
  7. Received No Votes Expand downtown parking: This ranked REALLY low, despite it’s $10-$25 million dollar tag, because the CAO commented that it could be funded entirely from a change in parking fees. To quote the Mayor: “Let’s start it tomorrow!”.

As discussion shifted from spending to financing, council was asked to put a number to what they’d like to see tax increases at annually over the next few years. The consensus was at 3.5% – with many commenting that this was an upper limit for them. A few were willing to budge to 4% though for an improved transit system and we had a suggestion of a (recognizably ambitious) 3.0% added to the mix.

The final draft of the planning document will be presented before council in chambers at the meeting on June 7th. The next in this series will publish on June 16th and will look at the first three priorities as approved by council.

Thanks to kvanhorn for the photo accompanying today’s post.

7 thoughts on “Hall Monitor: A Capital Plan!

  • It's a shame that issues like transit rank so low on the list. While it's nice that they place at all it is, effectively (given the ties) 7th on a list of 9 priorities. In a city that claims to want to become Canada's most sustainable.

    I know that there's an existing bicycle path plan and I think (although this is mostly assumption) that sidewalk connectors are also being built somewhere in the city (although I haven't seen any new ones in my many, many miles of weekly walking) but it would have been nice to have seen some sort of mention of them in this list.

    The list includes 245$ million in potential spending for the same-old-same-old fossil fuel burning single-occupant mode of transportation: cars. If the options for travel were more diverse the roads might be less burdened with single-occupant vehicles rambling over the asphalt.

    • Keep in mind, while transit is low on the infrastructure list, it still lands in priority number one on the 6-point plan (Which will be looked at in the June 16th piece). A lot of changes could happen to transit (Route re-alignment and so on) without having to invest in transit as a capital figure. Is it a great solution? No, but it would be a step in the right direction.

      Also, CAO Hunt mentioned specifically that transit needs to be fixed – so it's certainly something on his mind. I'm guessing we'll see non-capital changes (Maybe fare-funded) to address the broken system.

    • Wait for it! I spoke with the City Engineering department this week about bike lanes because city's website shows 2009/10 plans that are complete. New plans will be presented to the Environment, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee next Tuesday: .

      Plans include linking some of the unconnected lanes and moving / removing parking on Johnson (whoohooo!) The person I spoke with sounded excited and committed to building a kick a$$ biking network in Kingston. yeah!

  • I was hoping to see a green energy investment on the list. I remember a couple years back hearing council say they were looking into building enough solar panels to offset the power used by all city-owned and operated buildings on solar alone. This was a fantastic plan and from what I remember had plenty of support in council. It's a shame that once again environmental concerns which will have a lasting effect on us didn't even make the list while expanding roads and bridges to service outerlying urban areas is so prominent. Shame on council for not even pretending to stick with the 'greenest city in the country' goal.

    • Fully agree with you that green initiatives seem to be rather lacking from this list of projects, but I believe the reason the rooftop solar stuff was left off is because it is a done deal. Two weeks ago there was a joint announcement regarding City of Kingston and St. Lawrence projects, which received the go ahead. For the city, this will result in 1200 panels (approx 250 kilowatts) on a new Utilities Kingston garage at Lappans Lane, as well as 11 other 10 kilowatt projects on various city-owned buildings. All good news, but again if council was focused on sustainability we'd be talking about bike lanes and Kingston Transit rather than lane expansion to accommodate more cars.

  • This isn't really 'strategic' at all. It's just a list of projects ongoing or for immediate start. "Strategic' means thinking long-term – like, for example, how Kingston might start planning for a warmer world, and the end of the oil economy…

  • I'm dismayed to see that Kingston plans to spend 7x more to build one set of offices on Division St, and the same amount to expand one city street, than the entirety of what they plan to invest in affordable housing.

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