Council to vote on plans for Kingston’s new Town and Gown Working Group 

Photo by Lucas Mulder/The Kingstonist.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, Kingston City Council will vote on the proposed terms of reference for a new Town and Gown Working Group. The terms of reference are included in a report prepared by Lanie Hurdle, the City’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), which is circulating in advance of Tuesday’s meeting.

According to the report, the concept of the working group was first introduced during the Kingston City Council meeting on July 11, 2023, when councillors Conny Glenn (Sydenham District) and Don Amos (Portsmouth District) brought forward a motion to establish a group made up of representatives from the City and local post-secondary institutions, student groups, and area landlords and property managers. 

The July motion noted that the local post-secondary student population in Kingston is “significant and is expected to grow in the future,” while indicating there have been a number of “challenges within certain neighbourhoods” in recent years. The motion also noted the 2023-2026 Strategic Plan includes a focus on partnerships between the City of Kingston and local post-secondary institutions, and it called on staff to bring forward recommendations for the creation of the working group by the end of the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023. 

Now, City staff have prepared the terms of reference for the working group, which includes the following composition: 

  • Two members of Council
  • City administration
  • City by-law enforcement staff
  • An administrative representative (non-student) from each of Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College, and the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC)
  • A representative from the Queen’s University Alma Mater Society
  • A representative from the Society of Graduate and Professional Students of Queen’s University
  • A representative from the student government at St. Lawrence College
  • A representative from the student government at the Royal Military College of Canada
  • One landlord or property manager

The majority of members are to be appointed to the working group for a period of two years, “in accordance with the Public Appointment Policy“; however, student representatives will serve for just one year at a time “due to the nature of their studies.” 

As for which issues the working group will focus on when they meet, the report notes, “The working group must examine issues of interest or impact to the City, member post-secondary organizations and the community.” Specific issues include “housing,” “economic development,” “experiential learning opportunities,” “community involvement and off-campus student activities,” and “public education on shared initiative and timelines.” 

The report goes on to explain that the group will also be asked to provide advice “as required” on how to “improve communication” across the various member organizations, as well as ways to “increase accountability” of students and landlords “with respect to off-campus behaviours and their impact on the community.”

The working group may also suggest ways to address “quality of life concerns” within communities surrounding the post-secondary institutions and make recommendations to “enhance town-gown relations.” 

The working group is expected to meet “no less than four times per year”; however, a specific meeting schedule has yet to be established. The report also does not indicate when the working group will begin its recruitment process. 

In addition to the Town and Gown Working Group’s terms of reference, the report also includes some background information for councillors, such as a review of similar working groups in other municipalities. Hurdle writes, “Several communities with colleges and universities have a version of a ‘town and gown’ committee or working group that act as a bridge between the city and the college and university constituencies.” 

To assist in the creation City of Kingston’s working group, staff analyzed existing committees in the municipalities of Waterloo, Barrie, Welland, and Guelph. According to the report, the majority of working groups evaluated by City of Kingston staff focus on enhancing relationships between local municipalities and post-secondary institutions. 

In addition to voting on the terms of reference for the working group during Tuesday’s meeting, Council will also be asked to appoint two members of Council to the group, for a term ending November 30, 2024. 

The staff report will be presented to Council for debate during its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, at 7 p.m. inside Council Chambers. Full meeting agendas are available on the City of Kingston website. Meetings are open to the public and can be streamed live (or viewed after) on the Kingston City Council YouTube page.

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