Council candidates weigh in

The Journal talks to candidates in surrounding districts about Queen’s, Town-Gown relations and student issues

Mayoral candidates won’t be alone on the ballot for Kingston’s municipal elections on Oct. 25. Candidates will be vying for a seat on city council to represent one of 12 Kingston districts.

According to the Municipal Act, a councillor must “represent the public and … consider the well-being and interests of the municipality” and “develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the municipality.” Like a mayoral positions, councillors serve a four-year term. This election will select councilors to serve from Dec. 1, 2010 to Nov. 31, 2014.

The Queen’s residential community is split primarily between four districts. The Journal tracked down the council candidates in the area to talk about their views on Queen’s relationship with the city.

Bill Glover

Bill Glover is the incumbent for Portsmouth District. Glover said a fire safety inspection program will allow City Council to ensure property standards are being met.

“Property Standards is a big concern for students,” Glover said. “However, Property Standards Inspectors need to be invited into the home. Fire safety has the statutory ability to enter a home. This is an important way to go forward.” Glover says his plan to revitalize the Kingston Transit system will have a profound effect on Town-Gown relations and the community in terms of accessibility and sustainability.

“I think one of the root causes of the uneasy relationship is concentration. By making the transit system more accessible, it will be easier for students to live a little bit further from campus,” he said, adding that he wants to emphasize that he’s trying to increase quality of life for all of Kingston, and students are a big part of that.

“During my [last] term, I created working groups with senior City staff and members of Queen’s Administration which was a turning point in the relationship between Queen’s and the City,” he said.

Floyd Patterson

Floyd Patterson has lived among students on Frontenac St. for the past 38 years.

“I want students to feel a sense of welcome. We like to meet and greet them,” he said. Patterson said he wants to work for good relationships between students and the municipality.

“Students deserve to be treated with the same respect, help and cooperation as all the other members of the community,” he said, adding that students don’t necessarily have the resources or quick and ready knowledge to deal with problems concerning housing.

He said it’s the responsibility of the councillor to be readily available regarding property concerns. In terms of Town-Gown relations, Patterson said “We need to tidy up our rhetoric and try to be politer. If we can all get along a little better, it will cost the community less.”

Patterson said he also plans to make City Park safer by increasing lighting, and to create more jobs in the City for graduated students.

Ed Smith

Ed Smith has been the councillor for Williamsville district since 2003. He said he’s worked closely with the Queen’s community during his seven-year term to accomplish initiatives like increasing property inspection in the Queen’s Ghetto.

“There are areas that are more of a problem than others, and the Queen’s student housing is one of them,” he said. “I think over the last four years we’ve partnered better with the AMS and administration in terms of more proactive inspections of student housing. Rather than waiting for students to call and complain that their rented home isn’t up to code … property standards officers have been knocking on doors and asking students if they’d like an inspection.”

Smith said he isn’t quick to put blame on Queen’s when discussing the relationship between Kingston and the University.

“Those tensions are real and as a council and a councillor we need to work to reduce those tensions … predominantly around housing and homecoming,” he said. “For seven years on council, I have not used Queen’s University as a scapegoat for problems … I’ve always spoken at council and elsewhere to the benefits of Queen’s students and Queen’s community.”

Smith said if elected, he would like to look into an opportunity under the Municipal Act to deem certain neighbourhoods as community improvement areas, allowing them to customize services in the Queen’s Ghetto.

“As an example, you can go up to two garbage pickups a week,” he said. “There could be any number of ideas that could apply to a community improvement area.”

Jim Neill In the 1990s, Jim Neill served as city councillor in both the Portsmouth and Sydenham Districts. “I have a unique experience working in Town-Gown relations,” he said.

A Queen’s alumnus twice over, Neill said striking a collaborative committee between the City, Queen’s student societies and the University administration would create a more comfortable relationship between Kingston and Queen’s.

“I hope to have open and continuous dialogue between student representative groups and community representative groups to take a more collaborative approach to things,” he said, adding that he would also like to see Kingston host a Provincial Town-Gown Symposium.

“I think Queen’s administration needs to take a more proactive role in the community,” he said.

A long-time advocate for affordable housing, Neill said University administration should recognize and create more affordable, multi-year housing for students.

“Students deserve comfortable, adequate and safe housing,” he said.

To ensure property standards are upheld in the community, Neil said he’d create an online Public Landlord Directory with available contact information for tenants and neighbours alike.

“We shouldn’t have any anonymous, absentee landlords,” he said.

One way to fix this, he said, would be if more students headed out to the polls.

“Students would have a greater voice if they practiced their franchise,” he said.

James Sayeau

James Sayeau has lived in social housing in the King’s Town district since he was 18. He said his experience equips him to increase affordable housing opportunities in his district.

“I don’t think there’s a big difference, students struggle with poverty as well,” he said, adding that he’s aware of six “derelict” buildings in and around his district that could be easily converted into housing facilities.

“Housing should be there for people going to school. Housing should be there for someone pumping gas and housing should be there for the guy with the master’s degree who’s desperately trying to find work and can’t find any.”

Sayeau said several of his campaign signs were stolen and paraded throughout several King’s Town neighbourhoods over the Fauxcoming weekend.

“A few of them had a couple of drinks in them,” he said. “I took it as great advertising.”

He said he views the Aberdeen street party as the main impetus of Town-Gown tensions and advocates a hard-line approach to extinguishing the event.

“To what happens at Aberdeen, it’s just nonsense,” he said. “I’m glad to see the police are getting on it ... I think there should be more of a visible presence, but I believe that for the whole community.”

Dan Hartley Dan Hartley said now is an important time to work on relations between the City and the University.

“Queen’s is only getting larger and larger,” he said. “There’s always going to be students. They make up a huge part of the economy downtown. The respect needs to go both ways.” Hartley said parking needs to be more available in King’s Town and winter sidewalk maintenance needs to be prioritized differently to accommodate high volumes of pedestrian traffic downtown.

“It’s the small things that are important to people’s day-to-day lives,” he said.

Hartley, one of the younger candidates in King’s town, said he believes students will be able to relate to him.

“We need faces in council that more accurately represent the demographics,” he said. “It’s important to keep an open view and keep common sense on issues.”

Rob Hutchison

Rob Hutchison said he wants to make Kingston a more attractive city for students to live in. His plans include expanding job fairs, revitalizing parks and improving transit systems.

“Many students are living in very condensed and cramped quarters,” he said. “A better transit system with more express routes will allow students to spread out a bit more.”

He said he’d work towards strengthening property standards enforcement.

“Students are citizens too,” he said. They should know they are not out of mind for the City Council. We need to handle certain issues in a constructive manner.”

Hutchison’s approach to stimulating local economy differs slightly from others. He said he’s looking to stimulate the Kingston creative community in an attempt to stimulate the economy.

“We need to pursue attracting more young artists to live in Kingston, give them more opportunities to present their art. We can lay a base for a creative local economy,” he said.

Harold Hemberger

With Portsmouth district home to St. Lawrence students, Queen’s students and permanent Kingston residents, Harold Hemberger said his focus as councillor would be residential harmony.

“We have to find a point where everyone is mutually respected,” he said. “You have to understand that your neighbours live there too. You can’t tell them ‘we’re here now and if you don’t like the way we live, leave’.”

Hemberger said he’s heard several complaints about St. Lawrence students around his Portsmouth home.

“Some residents witnessed some students peeing off an apartment balcony and throwing beer bottles off,” he said, adding that such incidents are the cause of tensions between permanent residents and students.

“I’ll try to improve the reputation ... I know there’s a small amount of people that ruin it for everybody with the partying.”

Hemberger said inviting students into a dialogue with other Kingston community members is the solution.

“We can’t just keep complaining,” he said. “What I’d like to have is students getting involved in the solution. If the students don’t get involved, they may be sending the wrong message, like they don’t care.”

Bill Wornes

Bill Wornes, a retired military musician and music director, said tensions between students and permanent residents in Portsmouth district won’t be resolved by laws or police.

“Just setting up a set of rules will only further the problem,” he said. “We cannot legislate it or police it ... We need to have reasonable people sit down and discuss these issues.”

Wornes said if elected he will work towards the realization of a plan approved by the current council to create a committee mandated to facilitate discussion between city officials, University administration students and residents.

“Once [students] realize they’ve been asked as adults to resolve a problem, they will react in an adult way,” he said. “Cooler heads have to prevail. I’m advocating reasonable discussion.”

Liz Schell

Liz Schell said much of Portsmouth district is dependent on St. Lawrence College and Queen’s.

“Portsmouth is an interesting district because we do have the School of Continuing Education from Queen’s and St Lawrence College,” she said. “We have [Richardson Stadium] so we’re quite involved. There’s lots of people who work at both institutions who live here.

“It’s their home as well as their working life.”

Schell said she plans on evaluating the current taxation system applied to Queen’s by the city.

“The city has a large number of non-taxed institution including Queen’s and the hospitals and the City receives $75 [from the province] per hospital bed or student,” she said, adding that this money is given to the City to help recoup the property taxes that these public institutions are exempt from.

She said she would like to increase this dollar value because it hasn’t been increased in 30 years.

“If that amount had been increased by the cost of living, the city of Kingston would be receiving an extra 6 million from the provincial government and that would could ease property tax on home owners.”

Candidate Sean Murphy was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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