The Chamber membership asked three questions of our candidates, details below.
Collins-Bayridge District #3 Candidates
Lisa Osanic Joel Thompson
Question 1: What do you see as the top issue or issues affecting local businesses, and how would you use your vote on the council to address these issues?
Lisa Osanic - The top issue affecting local businesses is recovery from the incredible hardships brought on by the pandemic and having profits return to or exceed pre-pandemic levels. Expenses have surged with the current inflation rate and energy costs. Supply chain issues and labour shortages in some sectors are also playing havoc. Council approved the Kingston Economic Development Corporation’s Integrated Economic Development Strategy in 2020. Council just approved the Integrated Tourism Strategy with Tourism Kingston. The new Council will be working on its 2023-2026 strategic plan. Council can continue to support KEDCO’s, Tourism Kingston’s, and the Downtown Kingston BIA’s budgets and the updates to their strategies.
Joel Thompson - There are two major issues that every business faces: human capital and customers. Whether the business is selling physical goods or services they need a strong workforce and paying customers to be profitable.
The best way to support businesses in developing their human capital and customer base is intensification. This can be achieved through smart development (that balances climate concerns, housing affordability, transportation and vibrant spaces) all businesses will benefit.
Question 2: Do you believe Kingston needs to do more to support, attract, and retain business and jobs in the coming council term? What would you like to see achieved in this file in the coming four years?
Lisa Osanic - Yes, absolutely, the city should always be striving to help expand our existing businesses and attract new businesses. In my opinion, the more jobs we create, the better; the more jobs with higher salaries we create, even better. Only a few years ago, the city spent considerable resources on advertising our Quality of Life and Work/Life Balance to attract people to move to Kingston. With the help of the pandemic and our comparatively cheaper housing costs, the city now has new residents from all over. Kingston has seen a 7% growth rate between census data. It is evident while knocking on doors where many residents have told me that they have just moved to Kingston. These are all new customers for our local businesses. In my opinion, the more jobs the city can create, the better. At the same time, we need to create higher paying jobs. We want to retain our young people. We don’t want them to have to move to Toronto to land jobs after graduation. Let’s offer them comparable jobs here. I would like it to be easier for residents of all ages to find local jobs. The new website https://www.possiblemadehere.org/jobs/ compiles job ads from various sites into one site. It’s a good start. I would like job seekers to learn how best to tap into Kingston’s hidden job market as I hear it is very difficult and how to seek those sectors affected by labour shortages.
Joel Thompson - When it comes to economic development, we are doing a fantastic job already but there are always opportunities to do more to support, attract and retain businesses and jobs in the city.
Over the next four years I would like to see more inter-business support programs available and facilitated through the city. There are a number of local organizations that support the same industry or provide similar services but do not speak with each other. If you look at patient intake for mental health services as an example. One intake department could serve a number of organizations and help charities, not-for-profits and government agencies maximize their resources and reduce wait times.
Question 3: How would you define success in this role for yourself, the city at large, and the district you intend to serve?
Lisa Osanic - For sixteen years, I have kept a notebook of all issues presented to me from either my constituents or from people across the city - the “city at large”. To me, success to me is when I can address and close off each issue. Some issues are easier to take on than others. Some issues take much longer to resolve than others – they require patience. The key is to review the outstanding list of issues frequently so that I don’t lose sight of them, keep progressing on them, step by step, and to follow up. I don’t like an issue to remain outstanding for too long. I try hard to resolve them all as fully as I can.
Joel Thompson - I define success through transparency and open communication. As an elected official it is my role to represent the citizens of my district and the city and the voices and concerns of the people.
Good governance is not black and white. When it comes to decision making, policy development and resource allocations council must weigh the pros and cons for each situation and move forward with decisions that are best for the city as a whole.
Success will be when we must prioritize environmental sustainability and stewardship to safeguard future generations while ensuring fiscal responsibility and accountability to create efficiencies and synergies, balance tax and non-tax revenues, and manage debt effectively.