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Tina Fraser says she knows how it feels to be ignored by those in charge.
Born and raised in Kingston, Fraser is a business owner, renter, and parent who spent 10 years abroad in Indonesia before coming home to obtain a college education and raise her son in the city. She’s one of four candidates running to be Kingston’s mayor for the next four years.
Fraser believes her well-travelled upbringing and working-class background has given her the skills and perspective to lead Kingston.
In an interview with The Journal, she said she speaks from a position of personal experience when it comes to the hot-button issues of housing, town-gown relations, and employment.
Her plan for solving Kingston’s biggest issues arises from her proposal for a “smart city”—a concept borrowed from her two dozen trips to Singapore.
“A smart city takes care of all citizens, regardless of if you’ve been here six months, or you’ve been here your whole life,” Fraser said.
According to Fraser, Kingston’s infrastructure and many of its are too outdated and uncoordinated for a city of its size. She believes all information could be centralized with the implementation of technology that allows citizens to communicate with the municipality and local leaders and gather data to inform policy change.
To her, a smart city could do anything from tracking housing needs to determine where new projects could be built to modernizing payroll systems.
Like many of her fellow candidates in the mayoral race, Fraser named housing as her top concern for the upcoming election. She believes her smart city plan will help students fight high rent prices and predatory landlords.
“I think the way to combat [housing issues] is through the biodata, so we know how many students need housing,” Fraser explained. “We have to talk to St. Lawrence [College (SLC)] and Queen’s about this to get to get real numbers.”
Fraser said the lack of data and transparency is hindering citizens from knowing better and officials from doing better. Both Queen’s and SLC release data about enrolment.
When it comes to student housing concerns, Fraser wants to build affordable, dense housing units where students need them most, cap rent according to inflation, strengthen the Landlord Tenant Board, and repurpose empty properties downtown.
To serve Queen’s, Fraser hopes to collaborate more closely with students and prioritize their viewpoints. She said she’d ensure her relationship with Queen’s leadership remains interactive, honest, and open to public scrutiny.
“I would come right to the university campus; I would have open public meetings to engage the student population,” she said.
Though Fraser understands students want to enjoy their time at Queen’s, she believes students must acknowledge their own responsibility when it comes to keeping the community safe.
According to her, the University must contain large street parties. Through policy changes, harm reduction, and heightened police presence in the student district, she hopes parties can be contained to Queen’s campus grounds only.
“Homecoming is a very big tradition, but it’s a tradition that is obviously for Queen’s only,” she said. “Queen’s has to be responsible for their students. Give them a better homecoming; have them on campus where they’re safe.”
Fraser is keen on implementing policies she hopes will “guarantee” jobs to Queen’s and SLC students.
“If we’re looking at our town and the populations here, we have to create more manufacturing and businesses around these types of jobs, instead of having to call people in from other cities. We already have talent here,” she said.
“Taking Kingston back” is a consistent theme in Fraser’s platform.
She sees this as an issue that cuts across environmentalism, housing, public health, local business, and more.
For too long, she said, municipal decision-making has been carried out without citizen input, pointing to the recent attempt to redevelop the Davis Tannery wetland into a residential complex as an example.
“My concern is that moving forward, [the municipal government] is just going to develop and have provincial orders in place without consulting the citizens, the taxpayers, Indigenous groups and newcomers, the LGBTQ communities, immigrants, international students,” Fraser said.
“[The city] is willingly taking their money, their income tax, their property tax, but yet there’s no duty to consult them?”
Fraser is concerned with “forced immunizations” she had to undergo to keep her job, referring to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Although she says she’s vaccinated and believes other people should have that choice, she was worried by how quickly the vaccine was rolled out and its mandatory status in many schools and workplaces. She said she would not challenge vaccine mandates if elected as mayor.
“Everyone has their personal opinion whether they should [take the vaccine] or not, but what happened to ‘my body, my choice?’” Fraser asked.
While Fraser admitted her background is unconventional compared to other mayoral candidates, her ultimate vision for Kingston is one she says engages “normal, working-class, average [people].”
“I don’t come from money. I don’t have connections like even though I lived here, I grew up here […] My integrity is first, so any interactions or engagement I do, that’s my baseline. I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to do a job, and to give people a hand up, not a handout.”
The Kingston municipal election is happening on Oct. 24. More information can be found here.
Candidate, city council, Election 2022, Mayor profile
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