On Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2019, Kingston City Council sat for meeting number 23-2019 (Agenda) where they discussed proposed changes to Belle Park, transitions in the Ontario recycling program, received a strategic plan update and, primarily, spoke to the 5-year implementation strategy for the Active Transportation Master Plan.
The evening opened with a number of community delegations. Representation from the Kingston Velo Club, the Belle Park Working Group, the Downtown Kingston BIA, and Friday for Future, among others, spoke to topics on the agenda. A briefing from Debbi Miller, Manager of Community and Public Engagement for the city of Kingston, was presented to notify Council of the Public Engagement National Award the city received, and from Ian Semple, the City’s Director Transportation Services, who briefed Council on the Active Transportation implementation plan and then spent over an hour receiving questions.
Council approved the Belle Park Master Plan by a vote of 12-0 (Councillor Stroud was absent at the time of voting), setting in motion sweeping changes for the 80-acre site of a former landfill. The item was amended (11-1; Councillor Hill opposed) that staff be directed to maintain the park primarily as a place of nature with no less than 77 per cent of the area as naturalized land — though it was noted through discussion that future councils could change those numbers or directions. In approving the plan, the Belle Park Working Group completes its mandate and was dissolved. The changes to the park are expected to be implemented over 15 years.
Council spent the majority of the evening discussing the Active Transportation Master Plan, asking questions during the earlier briefing before making discussions during the report later in the evening. Discussions primarily focused around specific projects and the prioritization of three specific focus areas the city is looking to target first in its implementation. Much discussion was also had on the 13 focus areas being within the urban centre of the city, and a deferral to prioritize additional projects in the rural areas was tabled, with a potential amendment to prioritize cycling lanes downtown. Following discussion about how adding projects at this point could be a “slippery slope” and a brief recess, the deferral was withdrawn and the item passed 9-4 with Councillors Boheme, Chapelle, Oosterhoff and Stroud opposing.
Among other items, council received a mid-year update on their strategic plan, approving $250,000 from the environmental reserve for a climate change management strategy in the process; signed a notice of completion for a radio-communication facility on Midland Avenue; received an update on the provincial shift to producer responsibility for plastic recycling; requested the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority assess the impact of the climate emergency on rural wells, and; approved the appointment of Brad Joyce as acting Commissioner of Corporate Services with the City for up to six months with the option to become permanent at the completion of this term. They also added a third council meeting in October, scheduled for the 22nd, which will be held in its modified open house format at Memorial Hall and will welcome Dianne Saxe, former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, who will provide a briefing.
In addition to several external agency meetings, there are meetings of Heritage Kingston and the Planning Committee before Council next meets on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019 at 7 p.m.
Born and raised in Kingston, Tommy Vallier bleeds limestone. An avid council watcher since 2004, he first began reporting on municipal affairs in 2011, helping to modernize meetings and make them more accessible through social media and live video. When he isn’t focused on City Hall, he’s an avid gamer, theatre supporter, and Disney fan.