The Chamber membership asked three questions of our candidates, details below.
Lakeside District #4 Candidates
Wayne Hill Wendy Stephen
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?
Wayne Hill -There are many issues facing local businesses. One of the most dramatic changes post pandemic is the lack of an available and reliable workforce. In Kingston this is exacerbated by rents that are too high and a lack of affordable housing. We want to both attract young people to work in our City and we want to keep our own young people here. That won't happen unless we can offer them good employment opportunities and quality accomodation at reasonable rates. Kingston is uniquely positioned as a desirable and relatively cost effective place to both live and to do business especially with the advances in remote work. We need to build a lot more housing in Kingston and I will continue to support development of various types of housing throughout the City and especially in the downtown where young people want to live and work and use active transportation to get there.
Wendy Stephen - While I’m sure that the business community is better suited to identifying their top issues, one issue that I do see affecting many local businesses is staffing shortages. This in turn connects with ways in which Kingston can do more to support, attract, and retain business and jobs in the coming council term as well as to support the local businesses that have already been established here.
I think the key to our success is making Kingston a highly desirable place to live.
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?
Wayne Hill - Kingston is poised to see incredible economic growth - our location is finally being recognized as a huge advantage especially for start ups and green and biotechnology . We have to take advantage of this opportunity. We can generate a lot more tax revenue through economic growth than we can through simply layering on more tax increases to our existing companies and residents. Li-cycle and other new companies that are choosing Kingston are doing so for good economic reasons and we need to work hard to make that case to other potential investors. We need to capitalize on our intellectual communities and use them as a resource for start ups and we need to educate the outside business community about the benefits of Kingstons quality of life and provide a welcoming face to the investment community. We need to ensure that there is adequate land for economic development and that we can provide the educated workforce that potential investors are looking for. As stated above an adequate supply of quality housing is a very key consideration.
Wendy Stephen - We can attract and retain workers by improving access to affordable housing, family physicians, recreational services, green space, environmental protection, active transportation options and public transit. It would also be worthwhile exploring more internship opportunities with the various post-secondary institutions in Kingston. We are on the right track with some of the partnerships that are already happening (i.e., Mayor’s Innovation Challenge). Many careers require entry level experience, which I gather can be difficult to get in Kingston.
City council can further support small and medium-sized businesses in town by continuing the growth of the tourism sector, particularly in the areas of sport, health tourism, arts, culture, and film. Finally, I think it’s important that we continue to support the Waterfront Master Plan to ensure that we can attract tourists/potential workers by providing access to dynamic and welcoming public spaces.
Question 3: How would you define success in this role for yourself, the city at large, and the district you intend to serve?
Wayne Hill - I believe that success will ultimately be defined in finding that perfect blend between encouraging and fostering economic development and investment and maintaining the quality of life that Kingstonians have come to expect. We need to grow to pay for the services that we have and will need in the future but that growth needs to recognize the nature of Kingston and what makes it a special place to live. We need to maintain our green spaces and magnificent waterfront but we also have to identify and make available development land. We want to preserve the uniqueness of our downtown and heritage neighbourhoods and yet we have to make sure that people who want to live in and support our downtown have a place to call home that accommodates a variety of income levels. It's a fine balancing act but a good progressive Council that is open to growth and economic development can achieve this goal.
Wendy Stephen - I would use my vote on council to help make decisions that would continue making Kingston a great place to live, work and play.
Personal success would be staying true to myself while working as a city councillor. I expect I will grow and change in this role, but I also hope to stay true to my values and what I know is important. Working as an educator in our public school system has been helpful for developing my moral compass.
I think that success for the city at large means lifting up our most vulnerable residents and making it a more caring and beautiful place for all of us to live. I come to the table with a unique perspective as an educator. I have to consider different points of view and strive to challenge both my own and others’ thinking. When we can have an intellectual argument about an issue, I think we are able to get closer to the best solution. Consulting the experts and considering the data, while also knowing that not everything can be quantified and compared with numbers, is important to consider at the city-level.
As for Lakeside District, most concerns I’ve been hearing about are safety-related, particularly when it comes to traffic speed. I know I won’t be able to please everyone, but I think that success for our district means continuing to build community connections here in the west end. By having respectful dialogue between myself and residents, we can be sure to continue enjoying our lovely neighbourhoods and work toward necessary improvements in our area.