Chamber of Commerce gives council a ‘yellow’ rating on their Q3 report card

Letters reading KINGSTON in downtown Kingston, the letters are illuminated with blue light.
Downtown Kingston. Photo by Christena Lawrie.
Christena Lawrie - CFRC - KingstonON | 30-11-2023
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The Kingston Chamber of Commerce has released their third edition of the Kingston City Council Report Card, giving council a "yellow" rating, representing potential concerns from local businesses.

The report card is a quarterly document which was just launched this year, providing a short summary of business-related decisions which came before council throughout each quarter. The report card aims to ensure transparency and accountability from council to Kingston’s businesses. Each decision is marked "green," "yellow," or "red" depending on its impact on local businesses. 

“Once again, we’re pleased to provide this short summary of business-related motions for Kingston-area business owners who want to know how council is using their time and resources to make Kingston more competitive for businesses,” said Karen Cross, CEO of The Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce. “This report card outlines a few of our questions going forward on updates to our development processes, and we want to encourage our civic leaders to embrace the spirit of the provincial bills calling for more rapid reviews of proposed Developments.”

Throughout the end of summer and early fall, only 5 business-related motions came before council, in comparison to 13 last quarter. Of those motions, two were marked "green" (positive), two were marked "yellow" (potential business concerns), and one was marked "red" (negative). The overall rating for the quarter was "yellow."

The one "red" decision was council voting in favour of spending $100,000 to study the idea of a Vacant Home Tax. 

Explaining the ‘red’ ranking, the report argues, “At a time when vacancy rates are at record lows in Kingston, and where home ownership costs are increasing steadily due to higher interest, material costs, and labour costs, this does not seem like a wise use of resources and time which, again, could serve to simply penalize landlords who have a portfolio that includes vacant properties.”

Two major concerns pointed out in the summary of the report were items that were not discussed by council during the quarter. First, the chamber was concerned at the lack of updates regarding the family doctor shortage and a proposed new clinic which has not been discussed recently. Second, the chamber is still expecting to see significant changes before the implementation of new patio bylaws set to be introduced in 2024.

After the next few months, the chamber will release their final report and wrap up their first year of report cards.

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