Kingston’s new Council, how the City makes the grade, and a Water Snake!

In this edition of City Matters: 

Feature stories 

Headshots of new council members

Say “hello” to your new City Council

It’s official – last month, Kingston elected its next Mayor, Council, and School Board Trustees. Meet the 13 elected officials who will represent the community around the “horseshoe” in Council Chambers: 

Mayor  

  • Mayor – Bryan Paterson  

City Councillors  

  • Countryside District #1 – Gary Oosterhof  

  • Loyalist-Cataraqui District #2 – Paul Chaves  

  • Collins-Bayridge District #3 – Lisa Osanic  

  • Lakeside District #4 – Wendy Stephen   

  • Portsmouth District #5 – Don Amos   

  • Trillium District #6 – Jimmy Hassan   

  • Kingscourt-Rideau District #7 – Brandon Tozzo  

  • Meadowbrook-Strathcona District #8 – Jeff McLaren 

  • Williamsville District #9 – Vincent Cinanni   

  • Sydenham District #10 – Conny Glenn  

  • King's Town District #11 – Gregory Ridge  

  • Pittsburgh District #12 – Ryan Boehme  

City staff are easing into the transition by welcoming the incoming Council with an updated orientation program. The program is designed around a few central goals: to build relationships between Council and staff, define the roles for each, and give the incoming Council a thorough understanding of how the corporation serves the community. 

“We are thrilled to offer this enhanced program to welcome the new Council,” says Robert Hosier, Coordinator, Organizational Change Management. “We developed this ‘curriculum’ so members of Council are better equipped to navigate various City departments, better understand how they operate, and meet the folks who provide these services.” 

The orientation will take place over the next month, with ongoing training and development being planned for the duration of their term.  

While staff and Council are distinct, the work to support the community is highly collaborative and requires a strong partnership. This connection will be forged with the help of Amanda Nugara, Coordinator, Council Support and Community Relations. Nugara acts as a resource for councillors, and a liaison with City staff and the public. “I'm looking forward to facilitating conversations between councillors, the community, and other staff across the corporation,” she says. “The end goal is to improve how we communicate with one another and serve the community.” 

City maintains its AA+ credit rating!

How the City makes the grade – and our budget

The City of Kingston has once again received a stellar AA+ credit rating with a stable outlook from Standard & Poor's (S&P) Global Ratings. We sat down for a quick conversation with Desiree Kennedy, Chief Financial Officer, to better understand what this means for the City’s budget, spending and debt. 

City Matters: Hi, Desiree! Can you start by explaining what a credit rating means? 

DK: Of course. A credit rating is an indication of how well we can meet our financial obligations. We are assessed annually by an outside agency – in this case, S&P Global Ratings – that looks at our local economy, as well as the fiscal policies the City has in place to manage our spending on services, programs and capital projects. 

CM: What kinds of policies or practices does the agency look at when making an assessment? 

DK: S&P Global Ratings looks at a broad range of our financial management practices, including our approach to budgeting, capital planning and debt. Municipalities are required to balance their budget each year, so the agency looks at how our revenue compares to what is being spent, our strategies for funding capital and utilizing debt, and how we are planning for the future. 

CM: Why is a credit rating necessary? 

DK: A stable credit rating provides us with more favourable interest rates and flexible terms. The rating also provides assurance to the community that we are managing our finances well and that we are able to meet our financial obligations. Earlier this year our rating was upgraded from AA to AA+, which is the second-highest rating given by the agency. This rating reflects our efforts to reduce our reliance on debt while planning effectively for future spending. 

CM: What are the City’s operating and capital budgets? How are they funded? 

The operating budget reflects the range of day-to-day services that the City provides, including fire and emergency services, road maintenance, sidewalks, pathways and trails, transit, parks and recreation, arts and culture, libraries, social services, and planning and development. Property taxes and other revenue sources – such as user fees for City facilities and transfers from other levels of government – fund the City’s operating budget. 

Capital spending is a bit different. These are significant investments in “capital” assets that support the programs and services that I mentioned previously, like parks, buses, and buildings like community centres. This budget allows us to replace aging infrastructure and build or buy new assets as needed. A portion of the operating budget is transferred to the capital reserve funds each year to be used for capital spending. 

 
*Looking for bonus marks? Learn more about the 2022 budgets by consulting the City’s budget overviews or by exploring past budgets and financial statements. Follow along on Get Involved Kingston for updates on the 2023 budget engagements. * 

Creating a safe and respectful environment for visitors and staff at municipal facilities 

In September, City Council approved a Vexatious Conduct Policy to create a formal process for addressing harmful behaviour directed toward visitors and staff at municipal facilities. The policy was brought forward to protect the health and wellbeing of community members and to provide a safe work environment for municipal employees based on respectful conduct and inclusion. But what exactly is ‘vexatious’ conduct? 

“Vexatious conduct means behaviour which, due to its nature or frequency, or both, substantially and unjustifiably compromises the City’s ability to provide services to the public in a respectful, fair and timely manner,” says Jenna Morley, Director, Legal Services. “It is persistent and/or harmful behaviour that prevents staff from being able to do their job or provide a solution to an inquiry.” 

Examples include harassing, verbally abusing, or threatening City staff; making excessive demands on the time or resources of one or more City employees; making requests, complaints or enquiries to multiple City employees to attempt to address the same matter or issue; and/or demanding special treatment from one or more City employees. 

“We know that people may not always agree with how City services are delivered,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson. “There will always be space for residents to share feedback, engage in healthy debate, and have differing opinions, but it cannot come at the expense of the safety of City staff and members of the public.” 

The threshold for what is considered ‘vexatious’ conduct in the policy is high to ensure staff continue to engage with the public and provide services as much as possible. The policy includes a decision-making framework that ensures it is applied in a way that considers a range of factors, including a person’s personal circumstances, the likely impact of restrictions on their access to municipal services, and how often the behaviour occurs. 

“If someone’s behaviour is deemed to be vexatious, this could mean changing the method or frequency of communication, or providing a service in an alternative way,” says Morley. “Our priority is to keep visitors to City properties safe and to protect municipal employees in the workplace, while making sure residents continue to get the services they need.” 

The City has tools in place to receive and respond to resident concerns and complaints, such as the My Kingston portal.

Water Snake art installment in downtown Kingston

Pause and play at Water Snake, a new interactive installation

What happens when you mix creativity and printed concrete with an urban backdrop? You get Water Snake (embed link to website or NR), a playful, surprising and interactive installation along Kingston’s waterfront! Made up of three segments, Water Snake is nestled along the Waterfront Pathway between the Delta Hotel and Battery Park. Together, these pieces help create a unique and playful urban space year-round. 

Share your photos and experience with Water Snake! Use the hashtags #WaterSnakeYGK and #SnakeByTheLake. 

Tell me more about the business support office. Season 2 Episode 10 with guest Mark Nardi. CityofKingston.ca/Podcast

Tell Me More About … the Business Support Office 

The City introduced a full-time role within the Office of Strategy, Innovation & Partnerships to help businesses navigate municipal services, and to connect business owners and operators with community resources. Tune in to our latest podcast episode with Mark Nardi, Business Support Analyst to learn how this new position can help you start, sustain or grow your business in Kingston. 

Looking to learn more or connect with the Business Support Office? Join us for an online engagement session at 6 p.m. on Nov. 23. Register today

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