Paul Charbonneau runs for Sydenham District Councillor

Candidate speaks on housing, transit, and Queen’s administration

Image supplied by: Supplied by Paul Charbonneau
Charbonneau is hoping voters consider his experience in Kingston.

Paul Charbonneau hopes to build on his previous experiences if elected as Sydenham District Councillor in the Kingston municipal election.

Charbonneau’s main priorities include housing and support for the unhoused, health care, and mental wellness. He also wishes to focus on community relations with Queen’s, infrastructure, and community growth.

Previously, he worked as the Chief Paramedic in Kingston and Frontenac County, President of the Kingston Historical Society, and has been an active volunteer within the greater Kingston community.

Charbonneau sees a problem with the housing prices in the district. He believes the cost of living is too high across Kingston, especially in Sydenham. 

“One of my top concerns within the district would definitely be housing, whether that’s the 250 people that are unhoused on the street to people who are underhoused in student housing,” Charbonneau said in an interview with The Journal.

“Even for myself, I don’t live in the district; I am trying to move back, but I can’t find a house that is affordable.”

Charbonneau wants to combat housing problems by implementing newer and faster routes in the transit system so people feel less of a need to live close to the downtown core—he said since suburban areas of Kingston have lower housing prices.

“We need to increase the transit system and make it more accessible to students,” Charbonneau said. “Safety on campus is a big concern of mine, and I truly believe that transit has to be better set up, so students don’t always need to be concentrated into the Sydenham and Williamsville districts.

“The current transit system in place is not very accommodating to the schedules of students and this is something that needs to be changed.”

Charbonneau is also concerned with the relationship between the City of Kingston and Queen’s.

“I have attended many meetings with Queen’s, and quite frankly, Queen’s administration meetings are about checking boxes. There is no substantive discussion or consultation going on and that needs to improve,” Charbonneau said.

According to Charbonneau, the University often says they are not in the housing business. He strongly disagrees with this sentiment, pointing to the new Albert St. residence building that the University opened last month.

He says more coordination is needed between the City and Queen’s about student housing and planning for student housing.

He believes students should be considered residents of Kingston in the same way other citizens are, and the City needs to enforce bylaws to protect student safety.

Charbonneau alleged rental property vacancy rates have dropped from 2.8 per cent to 0.6 per cent in a matter of six months because Queen’s opened 3,000 new spots for international students.

There is no metric evidence or data linking Queen’s admissions to the drop in vacancy rates, according to a release by the City of Kingston. According to the same release, the 0.6 per cent vacancy rate was present in 2018. In 2021, the vacancy rate was 1.4 per cent.

Charbonneau says if Queen’s wants to continue to expand their student body, they need to be in communication with the City and landlords regarding the housing situation.

With 30 years of experience in civil employment for a variety of municipalities, he said he understands the municipal government system and is known as a “change leader.”

“Change is good, but it has to be led, so that those who are opposed understand their role in the change.”

This experience includes amalgamating several paramedic services into one, and negotiating with different contractors and unions, he said.

When asked about how he will tackle issues surrounding Indigeneity and marginalized communities, he said Kingstonians need “to listen really intently” and “truly commit” to truth and reconciliation.

“We are a pretty diverse city now, but that doesn’t mean more change can’t occur. We need to become more inclusive in all areas.”

The Kingston municipal election is happening on Oct. 24. More information can be found here.


city council, Council Profile, Elections 2022

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