My Vision for Kingston-Loyalist Cataraqui
Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability to taxpayers
I firmly believe that it’s the responsibility of the municipal government to spend citizens’ tax dollars wisely. We have key investments that we have to make to improve the infrastructure of our city and these investments cost money. Tax revenues are an important part of maintaining a good quality of life but we need to hold tax increases to 2.75 percent per annum. Any more and we risk placing an undue burden on local business and property owners but any less than this and we risk the erosion of our infrastructure. It is my view that we can find efficiencies in various departments by doing a careful audit of our expenditures. I do not advocate the further contracting out of municipal jobs. Municipal employees are taxpayers too and must be paid a living wage. We must also grow our tax revenue base by encouraging smart growth- mixed density housing that is built according to sound environmental principles.
Social Responsibility and an inclusive community
Kingston is a wonderful place to raise a family, study, work and retire. Kingston is also a prosperous city because of the many talented people who have chosen to live here and the wealth that they generate and circulate throughout the city. There are challenges that face our city however. Many people in Kingston are struggling to make ends meet; they are having a hard time paying for food, and shelter. Indeed, there is a shortage of rental housing and affordable housing that is contributing to a growing problem of homelessness in the city. We need to invest in social programs that will help us to address the problems of poverty that many of or residents are facing. We also need to continue to grow our population; new residents to the city will bring their ideas and their energy and grow our economy. Canada is still an attractive destination for many of the world’s most talented immigrants and Canada’s small to medium sized cities are emerging as important immigrant receptions centers. We need to foster the values of inclusion to provide a welcoming place for these newcomers. I believe the city of Kingston needs to work with the other levels of government to attract talented newcomers to the city.
Improving infrastructure: safe roads and parks
District 2 is one of the most dynamic areas of the city. It has grown by leaps and bounds since the last election but we must be careful that we both maintain and improve our infrastructure so that our quality of life does not suffer in the district. We need park improvements in Cat. Woods including the revitalization of the park. Safety improvements should include increasing the police presence in the park and finding housing alternatives for the homeless population that has taken residence there. We also need traffic calming measures along many of the key arteries in the district including Cat Woods Drive, Cedarwood Drive and Bayridge Drive. We also need to invest in expanded public transit throughout the district (including looking at alternatives to full size buses). The district also needs bike lanes and sidewalks throughout.
Attracting private sector investment and good jobs
Kingston is home to many secure and well-paying public sector jobs. But there is a growing awareness that public sector jobs alone will not sustain the long term growth and viability of the city. We must continue to place Kingston on the map as a place where private sector employees can come and do business. We have a highly educated workforce. Our three prestigious post-secondary institutions have given us the capacity to train workers for the economy of the future and the knowledge based, highly skilled and value added work that will create the wealth of the twenty-first century city. We also have to continue to sell Kingston as a place that is nestled between the large consumer markets of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. As well, we are a short drive to the U.S. border. Lastly, the city of Kingston needs to tap into the talent that is here to create its own industries in a vast array of areas from research intensive R&D companies in the computer and biosciences to the arts. We must entice our young people to stay here and make opportunities for themselves. The city has more work to do to make Kingston an attractive place to incubate talent by more aggressively pursuing partnerships with our post-secondary education partners and providing more start up grants to young entrepreneurs. The city of Kingston needs to invest in the knowledge intensive and environmentally sustainable smart economic growth of the future.