City Council’s proposal to extend Wellington St was a hot topic at the King’s Town District debate on Tuesday, among other issues brought forward by local residents.
The debate, which took place in the multipurpose room of the Artillery Park Centre, was at capacity. Lindsey Foster, Rob Hutchison, Ryan Low and Jordan West were present at the debate, but Sean Murphy was absent for unknown reasons.
The candidates agreed they wouldn’t support at-large municipal Council voting. Rather, they each said they would vote in favour of a new system that would have voters rank each candidate.
Multiple residents asked, in various forms, about the proposed Wellington St. Extension, which, like the proposal of a third crossing across the Cataraqui River, is intended to alleviate traffic.
“This is something that has been in discussion for many years in City Hall. I want Council to be able to make a decision, whether it’s for or against. I want it to be finalized,” Foster said.
Foster added she wants to make sure the tax increase isn’t higher than inflation rates.
“I wouldn’t cut services but try to create better efficiencies,” she said.
Hutchison, the incumbent, strongly opposed the Wellington St. extension.
“There’s no rationale for it,” he said.
Hutchison wasn’t as idealistic as Foster with her plan to keep taxes below inflation rates. He made it clear in response to her that it’s harder to achieve than she may think.
He said there needs to be money put into infrastructure, but for the Wellington project to work, there would have to be a sizable tax increase that he doesn’t support.
The discrepancy in enforcement of parking bylaws downtown versus residential neighbourhoods was also an issue raised.
Hutchison said a discrepancy exists in the level of enforcement.
“Permit parking is on its way to our neighbourhood,” he said.
Ryan Low focused on the discrepancy and said parking bylaw enforcement needs to be increased.
“All bylaws, noise and pet bylaws, need to be properly enforced,” he added.
West suggested that a two- to three-story parking garage be built for downtown parking. He added that people, such as the more senior members of the community, are moving away from shopping downtown because of the lack of parking, which in turn negatively impacts downtown businesses.
Marissa Kidd, a former Queen’s student and member of Transition Kingston, said although each candidate answered the question on the City’s climate action plan with reference to transit and bike lanes, none gave an environmentally friendly solution to the downtown parking issue.
Kidd said this was an inconsistency, suggesting an emphasis for citizens to use public transit and bike lanes could solve the environmental issue along with the parking issue.
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