Utilities Kingston to undertake $50 million in capital upgrades

External affairs commission tackling student housing issues

Utility updates are expected to begin over the summer.

Investments in capital upgrades by Utilities Kingston will keep service flowing into student homes.

Utilities Kingston announced an investment of nearly $50 million in capital upgrades to neighbourhoods, including the student district, on May 4.

Utilities Kingston said the investments will enhance local utility systems such as water, wastewater, gas, and electricity.

“Aging water, sewer, and road infrastructure is reaching the end of its useful life and needs replacement,” Remi Adedapo, director of utilities engineering said in a statement to The Journal.

These changes will be seen in the spring, summer, and fall of 2023 on Victoria Street, from Johnson to Union; Union Street, from Victoria to Collingwood; and Earl Street, from Toronto to Collingwood. Some areas further from Queen’s campus will have aging water replacement.

According to Adedapo, areas undergoing construction will experience water outages for a one-day duration, several times throughout the day.

Julian Mollot-Hill, AMS commissioner of external affairs, voiced his concern about the current utility infrastructure and its effects on students’ water and electricity services.

Students are concerned about the impact utility upgrades will have on prices, particularly for students living in areas where development is being implemented.

Upcoming construction will not have direct rate impact on specific locations, according to Adedapo, and the cost of upgrading Kingston’s utility infrastructure is built into utility rates.

There hasn’t been a public announcement on whether the upcoming utility changes will impact utility rates long-term.

“Certain areas of the student district are suffering from poorer infrastructure from Utilities Kingston,” Mollot-Hill said.

The quality of off-campus student housing plays a significant role in determining the size of their utility bills. Student housing tends to be older and less frequently updated, leading students to pay higher rates for utility services, according
to Mollot-Hill.

“Ensuring utilities and other Kingston services remain affordable to students is a priority for discussion this year with the municipal government,” Mollot-Hill said.

The AMS Housing Resource Centre (HRC) will be operational in September. The HRC’s mandate includes ensuring students living off-campus are well equipped when navigating conflicts with landlords and housemates, informing students of tenant rights, and finding good quality affordable housing.

“We are looking forward to helping students with their housing issues and starting new initiatives to improve the accessibility and scope of our services once the fall semester begins,” Mollot-Hill said.


Investment, Kingston, Utilities

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