Kingston City Council moves forward with controversial Community Standards Bylaw

three councillors sit in a row behind the rounded wooden desks in city hall.
Christena Lawrie - CFRC - KingstonON | 24-11-2023
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The new Community Standards Bylaw covering behaviors relating to the use of public spaces, including odours, idling, feeding wildlife, and loitering, was approved by city council this week.

After much discussion and six amendments, the bylaw was approved by a vote of 11 to 2, with Couns. Tozzo and Osanic opposed.

The community standards bylaw was passed unanimously at the Administrative Policies Committee meeting earlier in November, but not without pushback from community members both at the committee meeting and leading up to Tuesday’s city council decision.

The bylaw on the table encouraged many community members to step forward to have their voices heard. This included speeches from advocates, members of community groups like SpeaKingston, and a lawyer from the Kingston Community Legal Clinic working on the Belle Park encampment case.

Arguments against the bylaw mostly focused on the potential disproportionate impact it would have on already marginalized populations in Kingston, including those who use substances, struggle with mental health issues, or who are houseless.

One speaker even claimed she was already seeing the impact of this bylaw on Princess Street, stating, “There are a number of people that I haven't seen in a few weeks, and I don't know when or if I will ever see them again because they've been bullied out of downtown by bylaw officers.”

But other delegations claimed the bylaw was a necessary step in addressing the feelings of unsafety, especially in the downtown core.

Counc. Osanic stated, “This has been overwhelming. The number of emails that we've received, you know, this is one of the biggest issues, I would say, in the last 16 years. It's up there at the top.”

Included in the amendments was the addition of a Health Equity Impact Assessment to be conducted by a third-party to evaluate the effect of the Bylaw, including unintended consequences, after one year.

The bylaw is set to come into effect on May 1, 2024.

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