Ladies and gentlemen - good afternoon and thank you all for coming. It’s wonderful to see many leaders and representatives from across our community here today, as well as many current and former councillors and mayors – both past and present.
I want to begin by first acknowledging the leadership that Mayor Gerretsen has provided to city council and to the Kingston community over the last four years. I certainly wish him well in his future endeavours, but as you all know his decision not to run for re-election has left our community with a very important question about who should be the next person to lead this great city.
Over the last three weeks, I have been contacted by many people across our community about this question, and I have heard many people tell me that this is a critical juncture for the future of our city. Looking forward we see great challenges ahead, but also great potential. Kingston is one of the greatest cities in Canada, but it will take the right leader not just to maintain what we have, but to build on it and to realize our full potential as a community.
I have heard from many people about the need to have the right person in the Mayor’s chair – about the need to have the individual with the right vision, background, experience and personality.
I have had many people ask me to put my name forward. Some have asked me because they see my background as an economics professor at RMC – that I have the knowledge to lead an ambitious economic development and job creation agenda for Kingston, that I am positioned to strengthen town-gown relations and to forge stronger ties with our valued military community.
Others have asked me to put my name forward because of my ability to build consensus, to compromise where needed, and to reach across the spectrum to work constructively with all of my colleagues. I’m not afraid to make tough decisions, but I’m also open to hearing from all sides on a particular issue and over the last four years on council I have always worked to maintain a level of respect and appreciation for all of my colleagues, regardless of our political differences.
And so after much thought and reflection, after many conversations with my family and with my beautiful wife Shyla, who is truly my number 1 supporter, I am here today to announce that I am running for mayor of Kingston.
I am both humbled and honoured to have two tremendous individuals as co-chairs of my campaign – former mayor Gary Bennett and community leader Gillian Moss. Together they have an energetic and enthusiastic team behind them to help me relay my vision for Kingston to every resident across our city. Gary and Gillian continue to receive interest and inquiries from all corners of our proud community and we welcome and look forward to their help over the course of the campaign.
Over the coming weeks you’re going to hear me talk at length about the three pillars of my vision for Kingston – a progressive vision that will allow us to Move Kingston Forward...Together.
The first pillar is Seizing Our Economic Opportunities:
We’re going to target a few key industries and sectors in which Kingston has a competitive advantage, and we are going to aggressively recruit and attract new businesses and market Kingston across the country and around the world. Having worked with the team at KEDCO in developing a new strategic plan, we’re going to seize opportunities like the new Canada-EU trade agreement to put Kingston on the radar overseas.
Together we’re going to develop a made in Kingston youth employment strategy, to help young people get their foot in the door in the labour market, get that first job and get started on the right track to career success.
We’re going to continue to save 1% towards capital infrastructure so that we can make strategic investments in projects like the Third Crossing and the airport that will attract more investment, jobs and development for Kingston.
And collaboratively, we will work to put in place new policies that will encourage and facilitate more entrepreneurship and innovation.
In fact that’s why we’re launching the campaign here at The Boathouse – because this place represents the potential of a state of the art technology cluster here in Kingston.
The Boathouse is a technology ready environment that serves as an incubator for innovative Information and Communications Technology sector upstarts here in Kingston.
Already this building provides space and connection to many exciting new technology ventures like Server Cloud Canada, All Roads Inc, Docupet, Empire Avenue Inc and Laser Depth Dynamics.
We’re going to help local innovators like these grow their businesses, create jobs and help solidify Kingston as a place where history and innovation thrive.
The second pillar is Revitalizing our Neighbourhoods and the Waterfront:
As you know, the city is making strategic investments in Rideau Heights and we’re going to continue partner with the private sector to rejuvenate this entire area of the city with quality, affordable mixed housing, accessible neighbourhood commercial areas, all built around a community and recreational hub.
We’re going to replace the aging Meadowcrest Centre with a new, conveniently located community centre for the east-end of the city.
It’s important as a community that we accelerate the revitalization of our waterfront parks, including adding a family friendly sandy beach area at Breakwater Park and a complete renewal of Doug Fluhrer Park.
And on that note, we’re also going to investigate opportunities to acquire land along the waterfront and to extend and connect our waterfront trails, so that more Kingstonians can access and enjoy our beautiful waterfront.
And together we can work together to develop an ambitious plan and strategy for the Kingston Penitentiary property and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour – to realize its full potential as a tourist destination and signature waterfront locale.
The third pillar is Living Within Our Means:
As a community we need to make living in Kingston affordable and financially sustainable for taxpayers across our city, and so I am proposing that we work to cap property tax rate increases at the rate of inflation, which is currently well under 2%.
It’s important that the city keeps saving our 1% towards capital, and we’re going to protect front-line services, but by growing our local tax base and ensuring maximum value for every tax dollar, we’re going to make our budgets work.
And so today I’m stand confident that with your support, together we can reach out to as many people as possible, we can speak with residents at their doors, engage with residents on social media, spread the word across this community and together we can share this vision to move our community forward – to make Kingston a model city for the entire country and beyond.
Thank you very much.