Kingston City Council added a meeting to their calendar, sitting for meeting number 20-2020 (agenda) on Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2020 in its electronic format. Called a “special” meeting only because it falls outside of regular scheduling, council only received updates for the Stage 2 reopening plan and an update surrounding the encampment at Belle Park.
Council first discussed the current phase 2 part of re-opening Kingston, which includes libraries, beaches, patios and other municipal facilities. As part of the update, Council was able to hear directly from CAO Lanie Hurdle about the lane closures for the ‘Love Kingston Marketplace‘ as well as from treasurer and CFO for the city, Desirée Kennedy, who was seeking approval to create a tax deferral program for small businesses (those with assessments below $2 million) and hotels. Council was also asked to endorse a four-month lease for Kingston Penitentiary, which would take the place of the multi-year lease previously approved, multi-year agreement and would enable tours for four months. Council approved all of these phase 2 requests 12-0; Councillor Peter Stroud was absent for this meeting.
Council next received an update and request related to the ongoing encampment at Belle Park, which council recently suspended its no-camping by-laws on through Tuesday, Jul. 7, 2020. While council had heard from delegations asking for them to change that date or not have the current residents of the park evicted at all, neither of these were being considered. Instead, Council was asked to endorse the use of Artillery Park as an interim drop-in centre both for cooling, as well as an access point for community services such as Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC), HIV/AIDS Regional Services (HARS), Home Base Housing and others, and to provide storage for belongings. This temporary arrangement would be in operation through September with a budget of $300,000 to aid in helping the transition after July 7 while continuing to work with current Belle Park residents to find longer-term accommodations. While Council did briefly discuss a change to the enforcement date (which would require a new motion of reconsideration) and also heard that the camp is slowly growing, including some people from out of town, they voted on the motion for the services hub as-presented and it carried 11-1, with Councillor Simon Chappelle opposed.
Council now enters its summer schedule, with regular meetings only monthly in both July and August, though additional meetings could always be required and scheduled, notably as the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery continues, and as the Belle Park encampment evolves. Council will next meet for a regular meeting on Tuesday, Jul. 7, 2020.
Born and raised in Kingston, Josie Vallier bleeds limestone. An avid council watcher since 2004, she first began reporting on municipal affairs in 2011, helping to modernize meetings and make them more accessible through social media and live video. When she isn’t focused on City Hall, he’s san avid gamer, youth theatre supporter, and Disney fan.