At its meeting this Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, Kingston City Council will hear from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Lanie Hurdle regarding the progress made on the City’s strategic plan throughout the 2018-2022 council term. In May of 2019, Kingston’s then-newly elected council approved a number of strategic priorities for the City. Over 120 objectives were listed under the following five themes:
- Demonstrate Leadership on Climate Action
- Increase Housing Affordability
- Improve Walkability, Roads, and Transportation
- Strengthen Economic Development Opportunities
- Foster Healthy Citizens and Vibrant Spaces
According to the report being circulated ahead of Thursday’s meeting, all initiatives outlined in the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan have “been completed or are on track, with the exception of those with a revised timeline beyond 2022, as approved by Council in August 2021.” There have also been several instances where changes to provincial legislation or other external factors have impacted certain goals. The report outlines the overall progress of the plan’s 120+ strategic initiatives, while highlighting some potential challenges for items that remain in progress.
In terms of leadership on climate action, the report references five specific goals, most of which are still nearing completion. While the City has been successful in its plan to enhance and expand green space, the majority of the other climate goals are well on their way. The plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent is currently two-thirds of the way to completion, as the City “continues to facilitate partnerships to reach equal reduction targets in the Kingston community,” the report says.
With respect to the plan to increase housing affordability, the report once again points to a number of positive achievements, including the goal to build 3,045 units over the four-year term. The report notes that, as of September 2022, the City has issued 4,340 residential permits, exceeding Council’s target. However, while the overall number of residential units is beyond the plan’s initial targets, the City is still some distance away from realizing its goal to shorten the amount of time between planning approval and project completion. The report indicates that staff are continuing to explore options for penalties “if projects fail to proceed within a certain time following zoning approvals.”
Where transportation is concerned, the report provides examples of ways the City has improved walkability and roadways, such as 75 lane kilometres of road rehabilitation and improvements to pedestrian safety near local schools. One notable highlight is the success of the School Street and Play Street Programs, operated by Kingston Coalition for Active Transportation (KCAT), which allow for temporary road closures near schools and in busy neighbourhoods with children. Following a one-year pilot project, City Council opted to extend the program in July of this year, providing additional funding for groups like KCAT to operate the closures.
While many transportation plans have either been completed or are well on their way, significant steps are still needed for the City to meet its goal of providing a pilot model for transportation connections in rural Kingston. In June of 2022, the City of Kingston received $50,000 in federal funding to work with the neighbouring municipalities of Gananoque, South Frontenac, and Loyalist to establish a rural public transit project, with the initiative still more than a year away from being realized.
In terms of economic goals, the City has been largely successful in its plan to strengthen economic development, with two notable exceptions. Back in 2019, the City was working on a partnership with St. Lawrence College to establish a campus in the downtown core. However, the report notes some significant developments that have altered the plan: “It is anticipated that there will be changes to the partnership model with St. Lawrence College due to changes in the market and pandemic impacts on post-secondary institutions.”
The report continues, “Tourism Kingston and Kingston Accommodation Partners have established a working group to start community engagement as it relates to a conference centre, which would be connected to the St. Lawrence College program.”
Another initiative that is still less than 50 per cent complete is the City’s goal to facilitate a deep water dock for cruise ships at 5 Lower Union Street. The City is still in the evaluation process as an environmental assessment is carried out to determine the potential greenhouse gas emissions that could be generated by the ships.
Lastly, in terms of the strategic plan’s goal to foster healthy citizens and vibrant spaces, the report notes continued progress on the implementation of the waterfront master plan. Completed projects as part of the master plan include Richardson Beach, a new building at Grass Creek Park, and the Providence Care pathway. Work on the Richardson Beach bathhouse is expected to be completed by next spring, while phase one of the Belle Park Master Plan was deferred at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase one designs are now expected sometime in the next year, with construction planned for 2024-2025.
Throughout the current Council term, City of Kingston staff have provided members with regular updates on the progress of the strategic plan. In August 2021, Council approved updates to the work plan and its timelines, in light of the pandemic and its impact on staff. Members of the public have also been kept up to date on the progress of the strategic plan, with annual reports issued for 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Members of the community can review the progress made on the plan by visiting its official website.
In terms of the new strategic plan and goals, to be implemented by the 2022-2026 Kingston City Council, the City of Kingston said, “planning for community, staff, and Council engagement on the new strategic plan us underway. Please watch Get Involved Kingston for updates on how to participate.”
Thursday’s meeting will also be the last meeting of the 2018-2022 Kingston City Council, with the new City Council members to be sworn in at the inaugural meeting of the 2022-2026 City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 20, followed by a Special Council Meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2022.