Kingston City Council sat virtually for meeting 15-2020 (Agenda) on Tuesday, May 6, 2020. Though this was another meeting with a light agenda, council did get a briefing on local business response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and got a few procedural issues taken care of to enable more community involvement in meetings going forward.
Business response and recovery
Council received an information report from the Kingston Economic Development Corporation on the local COVID-19 Business Recovery and Response plan, along with a briefing from CEO Donna Gillespie on its contents. Council, at its Tuesday, Apr. 7, 2020 meeting had asked for this report to be presented along with an update to it this September.
Gillespie’s presentation to Council outlined the direct workforce impact in Kingston, detailing the 43 per cent of the local workforce (36,900 workers) at medium or high risk of employment loss, cash-flow impact, revenue reduction and closure. Gillespie also noted that Kingston was ranked in the top five cities whose economy is expected to be hit hardest by the closures by the Conference Board of Canada, noting that nearly a quarter of the local workforce is in accommodation and food services, retail trade, or arts, entertainment and recreation.
In addition to ongoing study and research on the local impact, Kingston EcDev is working on recovery efforts, including development of resources for local businesses to build recovery strategies, pivoting existing programs and services to digital delivery and fast-tracking existing grant programs they deliver for the provincial and federal governments. They are also providing online support through a dedicated small business resource page and will be soon launching an online portal to help promote and keep shopping dollars in the local economy.
Key topics and additional discussion
In addition to the briefing and information report, Council approved a motion that would allow for delegations in its electronic meeting format, which were explicitly not permitted when the format was approved in March. The proposed change, put forward by Mayor Paterson with Councillor Neill, was to return to the already established maximum of three delegations for electronic meetings, though pre-registration through the Clerk’s office will be required. It was noted during discussion that, outside of a pre-registration deadline, which was suggested as noon on the day of the meeting though not formally amended, nothing else changes and counicllors can still overturn the by-law on a delgation-by-delegation basis, as is done at normal meetings. The change was approved unanimously.
Council also approved the proposed development of 256 residential townhouse lots on Conacher Drive, approved a variety of localized zoning amendments, and approved a collection of heritage permits, each without discussion.
Most committee meetings have adopted a virtual format, with a variety of participation options for the public. There will be meetings of the accessibility advisory, planning, appeals and adjustment committees before Council next meets electronically on Tuesday, May 19, 2020.
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.