Debating visions

Mayoral candidates imagine Kingston circa 2025 at Tuesday’s debate

Bryan Paterson.
Bryan Paterson.
Photo: 
Dorothy Hector.
Dorothy Hector.
Photo: 
Scott Foster.
Scott Foster.
Photo: 
Rick Downes.
Rick Downes.
Photo: 
Brenda Slomka.
Brenda Slomka.
Photo: 

Five of the six mayoral candidates explained their vision for Kingston in 2025 during a mayoral candidate meeting that took place Tuesday evening at St. Lawrence College (SLC).

The event, which discussed issues including youth engagement in politics, the proposed airport expansion, new immigrants, anti-poverty and Kingston companies, was co-sponsored by Imagine Kingston and SLC.

Michael J. M. Owen was absent from the meeting. Bill Richard, Imagine Kingston roundtable member and moderator, told the audience that Owen’s absence was due to an illness.

Both community and Imagine Kingston members formed the panel that asked the attending candidates — Rick Downes, Scott Foster, Dorothy Hector, Bryan Paterson and Brenda Slomka — a series of questions.

Panelists included Michael Harris, KEYS director; Peng Sang Cau, president and CEO of Transformix; Andi Shea, student representative from SLC; and Walter Fenlon of Assante Wealth Management.

The public was given the opportunity to write down questions for the candidates, but due to time constraints the questions weren’t asked during the meeting.

Fenlon posed the introductory question, which asked candidates to describe in three minutes “their Kingston in 2025” and the outcomes they’d like to achieve after four years in office.

Seven additional panel questions preceded concluding remarks, with two minutes given for an answer. One-minute follow-ups were allowed to address points raised by opponents.

Downes began by saying the past must be examined before the future, adding that the foundation point is a “strong, united Council.”

“I want to lead a Council that is united … that gets along, provide role modeling for City staff and I also want to provide role modeling for City agencies,” he said.

He added that the mayor should focus on the next generation, including a plan to allow youth to stay in Kingston with their families.

A “city that changes, that’s dynamic” is Foster’s vision for Kingston, one that includes a new official City plan, electric cars and transit used by 15 to 20 per cent of the population, he said.

He said jobs and housing are the biggest challenges facing residents ages 18 to 24, adding that he drafted a bylaw during Thanksgiving “to provide for the licensing and regulation of residential rental units in the City of Kingston”.

Hector said she sees Kingston as “the hub of eastern Ontario”, adding to her vision an annual event — “Celebrate Kingston” — “that would recognize and celebrate our accomplishments as a community” and an annual summit to “develop policies that encourage sustainability throughout the region.”.

She said that she wants to support youth and harness their energy, “using the strengths of our youth for everyone’s advantage.”

Paterson began by introducing three parts of his vision: “Seize economic opportunities; revitalize our neighbourhoods and the waterfront; and live within our means.”

He added that he wants to see a smaller gap between the rich and poor, as well as the restoration of Portsmouth Olympic Harbour and “key parts” of Kingston Penitentiary.

He also proposed a City Council internship program as a way to engage Kingston’s youth and wants to encourage more volunteerism among them.

Slomka’s vision included “a world-renowned climate adaptation centre, a waterfront innovation district, integrated infrastructure to support active transportation, greater societal and intergenerational equity”, adding that the most important part would be celebrating 10 years since the “victory of the ‘no casino’ referendum.”

For student engagement, she suggested having courses at Queen’s that can be cross-referenced with SLC and RMC.

“I think there needs to be a course or some courses that are created … in which students design the type of city that they want to live in, and the key values that they believe are beneficial for an engaging, vital community,” she said.

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