Letters to the Editors

Outdoor patios like the Duke of Wellington’s are a popular destination for Kingston’s summer residents.
Outdoor patios like the Duke of Wellington’s are a popular destination for Kingston’s summer residents.

Summer fun

Dear Editors,

Re: “How to survive a Kingston summer?” (June 24, 2009)

In the June 24 edition of the Journal, the opinions and letters editor asked the question “How do you survive a Kingston summer?” Some of the respondents seemed less than impressed with Kingston this summer. I will admit that the prevalence of rain and chilly weather until mid-June was a disheartening start to the season, but I have recently found there is plenty to do in this lovely city.

I have a friend who once told me if you stick it out through the snow in the winter, you owe it to yourself to stay here during the summer. Most people I know who have spent the summer here say that they love it. They tell me fewer students and sun add up to an unforgettable summer. With this in mind, I have spoken with some friends and compiled a number of things that we love about summer in Kingston.

Patios: With the arrival of warm weather and mild evenings comes the delight of patio parties, patio barbecues and patio seating at restaurants. If you’re staying home, invite your friends for a barbecue on your patio (but be sure to check your leases to ensure you have the rights to the porches!). If you’re going out, you’ll find a variety of restaurants and bars with patio seating, from Chez Piggy to Lonestar to the Kingston Brewing Company to Fanatics.

Wolfe Island: Wolfe Island is a favourite spot for just about everyone I know. Take the free ferry across the water and go camping, build bonfires or hang out on the beach. If you’re in a less adventurous mood, you can go to the Island Grill. It has a low-key atmosphere, patio seating with a view of the water, and some wicked fish and chips.

City Events: Kingston hosts regular summer events like “Movies in the Square” (most Thursdays until Sept. 3) and “Music in the Gardens” (Wednesday and Sunday evenings until Aug. 30). For Movies in the Square, head down to Market Square at dusk to watch a free movie. Some of the gems lined up this year are Singin’ in the Rain, Mrs. Doubtfire and Rocky. Music in the Gardens provides free concerts in the Lions Civic Gardens next to the Cataraqui Town Centre. Performance schedules can be found at cityofkingston.com.

Festivals: Kingston summer festivals are well-liked by both Kingston natives and those who are newer to or visiting the area. In August alone, there’s the Wolfe Island Music Festival (August 7-8), the 1000-Islands Poker Run (August 7-9) and the Limestone City Blues Festival (August 27-30) to look forward to.

Other ways you can have fun this summer include picnicking in Victoria Park, renting a boat, visit the Farmer’s Market or the Queen’s Pub or hit up Monday night Beach Slam at Stages. Walkhome runs all summer long (9 p.m. to 1 a.m.) to make sure you get home safely.

Summer is already half-over, so get out and enjoy the great Kingston summer opportunities. The snow will be back before we know it.

Libby Shaker
AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner

Innovation needed to combat financial struggles

Dear Editors,

I am writing to update readers on the University’s financial situation, specifically the need to slow the growth of our salary, benefits and pension budget.

This year, for the first time in living memory, Queen’s is running an operating deficit, currently estimated at $8.3 million, and we are projecting higher deficits in the next two years. All units are reconsidering their three-year plans, because simply put, we are living beyond our means.

A major factor is employee salaries, benefits and pensions, which account for more than 70 per cent of the operating budget. This is consistent with other Canadian universities. Queen’s current contract with the Faculty Association (QUFA), negotiated in good faith before the global financial crisis, includes average annual increases of about six per cent. We just can’t afford this now. More and more faculty, school and departmental budget dollars are being reallocated to salaries, benefits and pensions, and this is affecting programs and our students. This contract cannot be changed unilaterally. However, we have been discussing ways to slow the growth of compensation costs with QUFA, QUSA and CUPE. We have options. McGill and its employee groups have agreed to postpone wage increases for six months and leave some staff positions unfilled. Western has already announced 55 layoffs and plans to maintain some vacancies. The University of Calgary anticipates up to 200 job cuts by fall with more to follow. If our compensation costs can’t be reduced, I’m afraid layoffs will be unavoidable.

Queen’s, like most Canadian universities, is facing serious financial challenges. We must work together to find balanced ways to reduce costs while maintaining excellence in teaching, research and student services.

Several capital projects are underway, but the choice is not between new buildings or funding academic programs—the choice is between new buildings or making do with old ones, however inadequate. If Queen’s expects to remain competitive, we must continue to build and renovate.

As a community, we must also find innovative ways to generate revenue, and we are. Our creativity and commitment are yielding new ways of doing business. It is my hope this will continue as we welcome our new Principal and begin another academic year.

Tom Williams
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

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