Williamsville District councillor Jim Neill is hoping to reclaim his position in the upcoming municipal election.
Neill, who has served as the district’s councillor since 2010, has also sat on Council from 1991-97, during which he represented Sydenham District. He completed his Masters degree from Queen’s in the late 70s and recently retired as a high school drama teacher.
Neill is the second person to announce his candidacy in the election. Bonnie Ferguson, a local author, announced her plans to run as Sydenham District councillor on Jan. 3. Bill Glover, who currently holds the district, announced in early February that he won’t be seeking re-election.
The election will take place on Oct. 27.
Williamsville District, is bordered by Johnson St. to the south, Concession St. to the north, Division St. to the east and Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd. to the west. The area, defined by Neill as having a “mixed-housing community,” is home to roughly 11,000 permanent Kingston residents and students.
“It’s really interesting living in and representing districts that are either districts in transition or kind of mixed,” he said.
“I think communities are best when it’s a mixed community, when it’s 50 per cent students and 50 per cent [permanent residents] as there seems to be more cohesion.”
Neill’s involvement in Kingston goes further than his time on Council. Neill was formerly the chair of Kingston’s Transportation and Environment Committee, and former President of the Kingston and Area Recycling Corporation. He also served as past chair of SOLS, a provincial public library organization and was recently on the executive of Kingston and District Labour Council.
Neill said he decided to run again because he feels there’s still more to do for the District, especially with regards to the Williamsville District revitalization plan. The plan, originally slated to take place over the next 12 years, will see a massive rezoning of Princess St. between Bath Rd. and Division St. to facilitate residential development in the area.
He said the redevelopment plan will see a surge of new housing for students and community members that will help alleviate poor housing conditions in the area, often managed by landlords who take advantage of the student population.
“The result is students are really being hosed and in the past they’ve been forced to kind of put up or shut up because there wasn’t enough housing,” he said.
Approximately 11 new residential developments have been frozen since the plan was passed last year because of the lack of sewage capacity.
“[That’s] critical for being able to do the development,” he said.
“I was able to pressure and get support and they sped up [the project up] by two years … and all this summer they’re doing a big dig to put in new sewer lines.”
In December, a construction project near Princess and Albert Streets that was set to house 500 bedrooms for students burnt to the ground, a “huge shock,” according to Neill.
Despite this, he said there’s still good work being done in the area.
“What’s being built is much better for students,” he said.
“I think it’s a brilliant piece of planning that needs to be shepherded through so that it’s successful.”
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