Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce candidate questions

What is the next step for moving forward on the intensification of the Williamsville Main Street plan and what will you do to demonstrate growing Kingston as a livable, sustainable city during your 4 years on Council?

Intensification of the Princess Street corridor should be an integral part of our housing strategy. I believe in and support the Williamsville Main Street plan, and will support proposals to redevelop underutilized properties along Princess Street. While I support intensification, I believe that a careful approach must be taken so that we create a pedestrian-friendly streetscape. That could include greater setbacks from the sidewalk, stepping the building back every few stories to minimize the scale of taller structures, including ground-level retail spaces, and including green space. Combined with intensification, a pedestrian friendly streetscape will also be beneficial to area businesses, with increased foot traffic and a larger customer base.

Pedestrian friendly, walkable, transit supportive communities are sustainable and livable communities. I believe in the development of neighbourhoods with a mixture of low, medium, and high density residential and neighbourhood commercial land uses, plus adequate green space and recreational opportunities. Mixed use zoning and combining medium and high density residential with single family homes allows residents to walk to amenities, provides the density required to support transit service, and is a more efficient way to use available land.

2018 rental housing vacancy rate is 0.7%, the lowest in Canada. What steps will you take to increase the supply of housing?

This really ties in with the first question, and part of the solution to increasing our rental housing stock is to increase density. Higher density buildings can potentially offer lower rents since the fixed costs – one of the big ones being land acquisition – can be spread across more units. In Williamsville specifically, higher density residential along the Princess Street corridor will alleviate pressure on the existing housing stock in the established neighbourhoods. There is an increasing demand for student housing due to increased enrollment at Queen’s University and the proposed student-oriented developments will help prevent more single-family homes and smaller apartment buildings in the neighbourhood from being turned into student rentals.

I’m also a supporter of bylaw amendments to permit secondary suites of all types throughout the City. That could include basement apartments, detached apartment units (Garden homes), or apartments over detached garages/carriage houses. Consideration must be taken to ensure that proposed secondary suites comply with the Building Code and Property Standards, that adequate off-street parking is available, and that proposed detached structures don’t adversely affect the character of established neighbourhoods. Secondary suites in private homes are typically less expensive than other types of rental accommodation, potentially filling an important gap in the market. The possibility of earning income from a secondary suite can also make homeownership a reality for more Kingstonians, especially with changes to CMHC rules allowing secondary suite income to be considered on a mortgage application.

Social housing is another concern of many, with a years-long waiting list for units. This is unacceptable. We have a vast amount of vacant land in Kingston owned by the Provincial and Federal Governments – land that is unused and untaxed, yet taxpayer money is spent on maintenance and upkeep. The potential to acquire some of that land for the construction of additional social housing units should be explored, as acquiring the land inexpensively from another level of Government reduces cost and allows us to construct more units for the same amount of money.

What is the next step for moving forward on the Kingston airport expansion and what will you do to expand air service during your 4 years on Council? For example, which is a higher priority, another Canadian airline to compete with Air Canada or an American airline to access new US markets?

Another Canadian airline (Porter?) would be a more realistic first option to pursue. The challenge with trying to attract an American airline will likely be competition from the airports in Watertown, Syracuse, and Ogdensburg, NY. Watertown is only an hour away – Can we be competitive enough on price and service to bring enough passengers through the Kingston airport?

What is the next step for moving forward on the intensification of JCB corridor expansion and new bridge and its linkage to the Third Crossing….and what will you do to encourage that growth during your 4 years on Council?

The Third Crossing and the increased number of commuters passing through the area is going to be a great opportunity for new and existing businesses to grow. In addition to providing the traffic necessary to support intensification and new business growth along JCB, a revitalization of Montreal Street could also take place, being an important North/South route that many commuters crossing the new bridge will use to get downtown.

Existing developments on JCB are very automobile-centric being an industrial and formerly rural area. If the opportunity for a new residential development arises, I would like to see a mixed use, pedestrian and transit friendly development. Development of new retail and services to support new residential in the area must also be encouraged.

I’m also supportive of constructing the Leroy Grant Drive extension if traffic volume and patterns warrant it once the Third Crossing is built. This will help avoid downtown-bound traffic from cutting through the established Kingscourt and Williamsville neighbourhoods.

What is your solution to the lack of parking inventory in downtown Kingston?   What is your financial plan for creating new parking spaces to add to the City’s inventory to promote local retail?

In situations where surface parking is removed to support new development, negotiations should always take place with developers to provide an adequate number of public parking spaces. Ideally this should happen with no or minimal cost to the City.

Surface parking alone won’t be able to solve our inventory problem, especially since not every surface parking space removed due to development will be replaced. A new parking structure is something that will have to be seriously considered, possibly on the Byron or McKee lots on Queen Street. The cost to build a new multi-level parking structure is substantial and will need to be considered when assessing development charges and when adjusting parking rates.

Reducing demand for parking downtown is the other piece of the puzzle. Further improvements to Kingston Transit including the development of Park and Ride lots in other areas of the City and the development of safe cycling infrastructure (including secure bicycle parking!) can reduce the demand for parking downtown, while enabling residents to make more sustainable commuting choices. These are lower cost options compared to building a new multi-level parking structure, and could delay that expenditure or reduce the size needed.

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