Memorandum approved, Kingston & Queen’s begin formal partnership

City Hall meeting draws AMS staff, Principal Woolf

AMS Commissioner of Municipal Affairs Francis Campbell at the Jan. 24 City Hall meeting.

On Jan. 24, Kingston City Council unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create a formal strategic partnership between Queen’s University and the City. 

This partnership would work collaboratively to transition Kingston into a “smart and livable 21st century city,” as described by Principal Daniel Woolf during the council meeting. 

Gerard Hunt, chief administrative officer and a city representative, debriefed the council on the benefits and goals of this partnership which will foster economic development. 

Hunt emphasized the long history of collaboration between Queen’s and the City and his hope that, by taking this relationship a step further, Kingston will be able to attract businesses, investors and talented youth to build a strong future. 

He told the council that this partnership would include implementing programs to retain students after they graduate by “developing learning opportunities for students through internships” and increasing youth employment. 

In his report, Hunt mentioned objectives such as introducing students to the business community, creating opportunities for student entrepreneurial projects in the city, and developing Queen’s Innovation Park into “a hub for scientific collaboration and business development, incubation and acceleration.” 

“This is a great strategic partnership because it benefits both the City and the school,” Mayor Bryan Paterson said before the vote. 

There were no objections to the MOU. However, council member Liz Schell asked that a live/work hub proposal be included in future discussions between Queen’s and the City upon the success of youth retention and attraction. 

This statement was made in response to an earlier discussion of a proposed interim control by-law that would seek to limit student housing in favour of family housing. 

Members of the community attended the meeting to voice their concern about neighbourhoods destabilizing because of the increase of “monster houses” across the city. The by-law would restrict home renovations from accommodating a large number of students. 

Local business employee Jason Trueman was one of the attendees in favour of the by-law. He supported the other delegates’ position that student housing constructional changes were displeasing eyesores, using Queen’s student “ghetto” as an example of how student housing deteriorates neighbourhoods and threatens family housing. In describing student living conditions, Trueman stated, “you wouldn’t want to sit down on a couch … it’s just sketchy.”

AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner Francis Campbell spoke against the by-law. “You’re generalizing the behaviour of an entire student body by the behaviour of a few,” he said. “You can’t argue that it cannot be discriminatory to separate students from the rest of the community.” 

Campbell stressed that the approval of the by-law would only increase tension between students and citizens and decrease student retention (one of the primary goals of the new partnership). He advocated for a mutually respectful discussion of alternate solutions.  

A motion was moved by council member Peter Stroud to temporarily withdraw the proposed by-law in favour of seeking an approach that will eliminate legal ramifications and discrimination against the student community. Stroud expressed to the council “students deserve more appropriate housing, we need more stable neighbourhoods … I think council can do better.”

The motion was passed and a public meeting is scheduled in March to discuss the by-law further. The MOU is effective until September 30, 2018, at which time there will be an opportunity to extend the agreement further.

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