Kingston City Council January 10, 2023: what you need to know

The meeting of Kingston City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, saw all 13 members of Council around the horseshoe for nearly four-hour long meeting. Screen captured image.

The meeting of Kingston City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, saw City staff open up Memorial Hall for attendance overflow, as concerned stakeholders, representatives from local service providers and organizations, and members of the public over-filled Council Chambers for the first time since the 2022 to 2026 Council was elected.

Top of mind for most of those in attendance was a new motion added to the meeting agenda late last week, following the announcement that the City of Kingston would be issuing no trespassing orders to those camping in Belle Park and along the K&P Trail near the Integrated Care Hub (ICH), just off Montreal Street. That new motion, brought forward by Councillor Greg Ridge and seconded by Councillor Brandon Tozzo, sought to place a moratorium on the City’s Encampment Protocol, essentially allowing this encampment in the Belle Park area to remain until March 2023. The new motion also saw a whopping 13 new delegations added to the agenda, all of whom attended to address the matter of the ongoing encampments.

After a good hour or more of debate, Council voted 8-5 in favour of the moratorium, with Mayor Bryan Paterson and Councillors Lisa Osanic, Gary Oosterhof, Ryan Boehme, and Jeff McLaren opposed.

The topic continued to dominate the meeting, however, as Mayor Paterson announced a second new motion – one that was not in the agenda – seeking the support of Council in declaring a mental health and addictions crisis in the City of Kingston. Doing so, Paterson said, would show a united front from Council in approaching and pushing upper levels of government for assistance, namely through increased funding. The motion prompts a request that the Ontario government “immediately invest in additional health care resources including treatment and rehabilitation beds in Kingston to support those in need.”

“One thing that I will add: this is not in the motion, but I do want to let Council know that I’m a member of the Ontario Big City Mayors’ Caucus. This represents the mayors of the 29 largest cities in Ontario. Every one of us have asked the province for an emergency summit with the province to deal with this issue,” Mayor Paterson said as he spoke to the motion prior to voting. “So I am hopeful that we can press for real change. I just want you to know that there is advocacy happening, but I think having Council support, which is what this motion is talking about, being able to make sure that we are all united when I’m talking to the province, would be very, very helpful for me. So I would certainly appreciate Council support of this motion.”

The second new motion passed unanimously.

The remainder of the nearly four-hour meeting saw Council handle the items slated in the original agenda.

The decision concerning the 2023 lease agreement for Kingston Penitentiary passed unanimously and without discussion. The City will now enter an agreement with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission to offer tours and other activities at Kingston Penitientiary throughout the 2023 season, which will see the City receive $38,200 per month across the seven-month agreement, for a total revenue of $276,400. From 2016 to 2019, the City had partnership agreements with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission and the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC); however, at the start of 2022, the then-City Council had voted to enter into a multi-year lease with CSC to offer tours and other events (with a total cost of $1.1 million annually for the City). This was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report before Council, and that multi-year agreement was put on hold for the remainder of 2020 and all of 2021, with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission renting the prison from CSC directly and providing drastically reduced public tours. According to the report Council received from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Lanie Hurdle prior to last night’s meeting, City staff “reviewed options for a KP lease agreement with CSC and determined that a [year-round] lease would not be financially feasible at this point,” hence the month-by-month agreement.

Similarly, the approval of the 2023 Interim Tax Levy passed unanimously and without discussion. This means that “for properties where assessment was added to the collector’s roll during 2022 as supplementary tax levies, the 2023 interim taxes will be based on 50 per cent of an annualized 2022 amount,” according to the report before Council, authored by Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and City Treasurer Desirée Kennedy. In cases where a new assessment has been issued for the 2023 tax year, “the interim tax levy will apply to the new assessment. For these properties, an interim billing adjustment will be applied to ensure the levies do not exceed the maximum amounts allowable under the [Municipal] Act.” The majority of properties in the City will be charged tax rates for municipal services, as well as fire and education. For all non-condominium residential properties, tax rates will also be levied for garbage collection. While the services charged under the interim levy vary by property type, tax rates also differ across central, west, and east Kingston.

Another large item on the agenda saw the only delegation of the night that did not address the encampment situation.

To start the meeting, Council heard from Krista Wells Pearce, Vice President of Planning and Corporate Support Services for Providence Care. Wells debriefed Council on planning and progress that has occurred with regard to a new Hospice Kingston residence in the city, something the previous council agreed to support financially in the amount of just over $500,000. As noted in the report to Council from CAO Hurdle in advance of the Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, meeting, Wells Pearce outlined how the Hospice Kingston project has been revised (it now has a smaller footprint but a larger price tag), and the fact that fundraising for the new facility – which is scheduled to break ground this year – is still $5 million short of its goal.

Council was faced with the decision to maintain the funding committed to by the previous council, or to reduce the City’s financial contribution to the new 10-bed residential facility to $301,166.53 – a little over $200,500 less than the original commitment.

Councillor Don Amos moved Option 1 of the report, which would maintain the funding to the Hospice Kingston development originally agreed to by council in 2019.

“As most of Council knows, I work for a charity non-profit,” Amos said, “and finding funds on any sort of capital campaign can be very, very difficult. And when you lock into an agreement with a partner, and then COVID hits and various aspects change, you still rely on that locked-in partnership.”

Amos continued, “The existing or first agreement was for the $500,000 over the five years… When you’re building a budget, when you’re trying to do a capital campaign, it’s important to rely on those types of funds going forward. And I think it’s on our part and our due diligence to support this.”

“Even though aspects have changed, I think, at the end of the day, a charity non-profit needs the cash,” he concluded. “That’s the more important aspect of it, and I’ll leave it at that.”

After a few questions of clarification were directed to City staff by Councillor Paul Chaves regarding whether the funding in question is provided up front or instead used to waive fees (“This essentially covers the fees that we would typically charge for the construction of this facility,” Chaves was told by CAO Hurdle), Mayor Paterson called the vote. Option 1 passed, meaning Council will maintain the approximately $502,000 in funding to the Hospice Kingston development, with only Councillor Jeff McLaren voting against it.

The full agenda from the Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, Kingston City Council Meeting can be read on the City of Kingston website or viewed in full on the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.

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