Kingston City Council meeting May 2, 2023: everything you need to know
Update (Friday, May 5, 2023, at 1:30 p.m.):
The City of Kingston has now provided a map outlining the boundaries of parts of the city, as disscussed in the overview of the final 2023 tax levy and rates below. That map can be viewed here.
Original article (Friday, May 5, 2023, at 12: 19 p.m.):
While the May 2, 2023 meeting of Kingston City Council was dominated by several big items, including a debate on a private conference centre in the downtown core, members passed a number of other motions related to issues such as housing, transit, and municipal property taxes. Of the various issues voted on during Tuesday’s meeting, the 2023 final tax levy and tax rates will likely have the biggest impact on Kingston residents, as councillors approved an average property tax increase of more than $150.
For 2023, City staff recommended a 3.49 per cent tax increase for the average property owner, based on spending approved by councillors earlier this year during 2023 budget deliberations. A breakdown of tax rates across the City’s three assessment areas is as follows:
- Central residents – Total average residential tax bill, including education: $4,739.74 (Increase of 3.23 per cent)
- West end residents – Total average residential tax bill, including education: $4,460.29 (Increase of 3.73 per cent)
- East end residents – Total average residential tax bill, including education: $4,345.16 (Increase of 3.60 per cent)
2023 tax bills will be sent out on or before June 9, 2023, with payments due back to the City by June 30, 2023. A complete list of payment options can be found on the City’s website. The 2023 final tax levy and tax rates passed with unanimous support from councillors.
Kingstonist has requested a map or list of boundary lines for the West, Central, and East sections of the city from the City of Kingston on two occassions. The City of Kingston has not responded to those requests at time of publication.
In terms of the City’s commitment to housing, Council approved nearly $70,000 in spending for a new tiny homes project geared toward precariously housed veterans, to be located at 730 King Street West. Veterans’ Village, a project led by national not-for-profit organization Homes for Heroes, will include 20 tiny homes for veterans, which will be offered at a rate of $600 a month, which is only half of the average market rent in Kingston. The City’s contribution of $69,558 from the municipal affordable housing capital budget will help offset the costs of development-related fees collected by the City.
According to a staff report circulated in advance of Tuesday’s meeting, prospective residents of the tiny homes will be identified through efforts by Veterans Affairs and local homelessness service providers, as well as other organizations. The units are intended to provide residents with “transitional” housing, as stays are expected to last one to three years.
Tuesday’s Council meeting also saw members approve a staff recommendation to waive rider fees on Kingston Transit on Saturday, May 20, 2023, as part of the City’s Spring into Summer event. The event features a full day of activities at Lake Ontario Park and will be capped off with a nighttime fireworks display at 9:30 p.m., with Kingston Transit offering free service on all routes throughout the day.
In order to streamline staff’s ability to plan similar special events in future, Council also voted to give the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) the ability to “waive any future fees and charges that relate to general public access in support of City special events, as long as sufficient funds have been incorporated in the 2023 approved operating budget to cover any loss of revenues.”
In addition to the staff reports, Tuesday’s meeting included several new motions, including a request for Utilities Kingston to review disconnection fees. The motion, moved by Portsmouth District Councillor Don Amos, noted that “residents have raised concerns in regard to Utilities Kingston’s fee applicable to the natural gas disconnection.” Staff at Utilities Kingston have now been asked to review and assess the natural gas bylaw “with respect to the… expenses incurred to disconnect a natural gas service.” A report back to Council is expected by November.
The second of two new motions approved by Council on Tuesday night could have serious implications for how city councillors conduct themselves while on the job. Thanks to a new motion moved by Mayor Bryan Paterson, the City of Kingston has lent its support to calls from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) for the provincial government to introduce legislation meant to strengthen the municipal codes of conduct.
According to Paterson’s motion, “several incidents in recent years of disrespectful behaviour and workplace harassment have occurred amongst members of municipal councils throughout the province.” While municipal codes of conduct provide a set of expectations for “council member behaviour,” Paterson’s motion noted that “municipal governments do not have the necessary tools to adequately enforce compliance.”
In terms of the AMO’s recommendation, the association has called on the province to enact legislation that strengthens the codes, while allowing municipalities to “apply to a member of the judiciary to remove a sitting member” if recommended through a report from the City’s Integrity Commissioner.
Aside from the typical Council business, Tuesday’s meeting also included a motion from the Committee of the Whole ‘Closed Meeting,’ which saw councillors approve a new employment agreement between the City and CAO Lanie Hurdle, beginning on December 4, 2023.
The full Council meeting from May 2, 2023, can be re-watched in its entirety on the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.