The Chamber membership asked three questions of our candidates, details below.
Trillium District #6 Candidates
Jimmy Hassan Rob Matheson Hanny Philip
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?
Jimmy Hassan - The top issue affecting local businesses today as has been expressed to me on multiple occasions from various business owners and I myself am included in that response as I own a business as well; that issue is lack of employable resources. Post Covid has presented the largest shortfall with available employees in our market as a whole. This needs to be combatted by ensuring we have long term sustainable planning to attract and keep good skilled and talented workers in our city. That will come by also focussing on bringing in more Industry and businesses to Kingston which will also attract workers and then also by working hand in hand with our educational organizations to strengthen in collaboration with each branch of Government, to establish focussed vocation programming such as wanting to become a "Trades Educational" hub that will train specialized workers to support upcoming demands.
Rob Matheson - The top issues facing local businesses are similar to the ones that impact citizens! Starting with the ongoing effects of the pandemic, continued economic uncertainty, and climate change.
The COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrated the systemic poverty to which many have been relegated to. The fact that the term “working poor” exists today is a testament to how off track and unequitable our society has become.
Rents alone have doubled over the last three years and the cost of purchasing a home has become out of reach for most. Council and I have a long way to go to ensure that workers in Kingston can spend their dollars on more than just the necessities (rent, food, and transportation). For local businesses to truly thrive, workers need money to spend locally. Living wages for employees must become the standard.
Climate change is already causing issues in the food and supply chain as well as natural disasters (e.g. flooding, severe storms, forest fires), which is resulting in an increase in the cost of food, supplies, hydro, and insurance. These additional costs are being passed on to the consumers who are already barely making ends meet.
In order to address these three issues, council must adjust accordingly by giving tax breaks to the small business owners; encouraging residents instead of travelling and spending their money outside Kingston, provide incentives to citizens for “staycations”; by asking our First Nations neighbours for their wisdom regarding climate, land, forest and waterway management, and by mandating that new builds must have solar panels or green roofs (including houses, apartment buildings, department stores, etc.). I would use my vote on council to advance policies and regulations towards the mitigation of climate change and focus on attracting sustainable green economic development.
Hanny Philip - Employment, many business owners worry about parking. I see local business as a powerful force to improve the quality of life in Kingston. I will support motions that would improve and facilitate local businesses' prosperity.
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?
Jimmy Hassan - Yes absolutely!! Much has been done as of late with regards to the new EV battery plant as well as Latham Pools looking at building their new facility. However, we need much more in the areas of warehousing, distribution, and manufacturing. These are the types of jobs that present bulk hiring requirements. In this next term of council, I hope to see that we have removed unnecessary barriers so that new companies and organizations have the ability to truly consider making Kingston their home
Rob Matheson - I think Kingston has done an outstanding job in all those categories. Since my term on council from 2006-2010 and the reformation of KEDCO. I believe we have done an excellent job at attracting companies to the area. Pandemic restrictions aside, council has continuously supported our businesses.
Given the above success, moving forward Kingston needs to focus on growing and attracting more worker cooperatives, small business growth, and local startups. Additionally, Kingston needs to fully embrace the legalization of Cannabis. The city can financially benefit by allowing local lounges, and supporting tourism of our local area’s suppliers, farms, and cultivators. In my Mayoral run I was the only candidate that felt the number of Cannabis stores allowed to open should be limited only by their demand. I am glad to see that this has come to pass in the last 4 years.
We can spend more time and money incubating the fantastic business ideas coming out of our post secondary institutions. If we were to use the new roads tendering system that Professor of Road Chemistry Simon Hesp from Queen’s University, and I worked on in conjunction with our Public Works Department in a pilot project from 2006-2010 in front of the Frontenac Mall. That resulted in the Contractor having to redo the work free of charge for the City, we can build our roads and infrastructure to last more than a few years and use the money saved, on geared to income housing, or a more enhanced Physician recruitment Program, or public owned retirement homes, or on simply mitigating property tax increases, so residents actually have more disposable income to spend locally.
Council could also consider helping subsidize Kingston’s small-medium sized businesses in their paying of living wages to their workers. We invest in them, they invest in Kingston. It’s a win-win.
All levels of government connect through policy and regulations; we are interconnected. Therefore, the policies that each level implements influences the other. I will be using my voice to encourage a Universal Basic Income, living wages, climate change mitigation, and the support and growth of sustainable and green corporate citizens.
Advocating for a Universal Basic Income is necessary to truly lift our citizens out of poverty. Locals spending money in the community benefits businesses immediately and circulates wealth accordingly.
Hanny Philip - Yes. make downtown safer for everyone. encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to utilize all the city's resources to succeed. Remove obstacles of doing business and cut wait or processing time.
Question 3: How would you define success in this role for yourself, the city at large, and the district you intend to serve?
Jimmy Hassan - Success for myself as a councillor will be measured not only by my individual efforts because these are not things that can be done individually. We will be measured as a Council and if we have are able to increase the number of new businesses entering our market, and more people are looking to come to Kingston, and even more so, the students are looking remain in Kingston at a higher percentage then I believe we would have been successful in the way of development for our City. Long term sustainable solutions for any City require a vibrant private sector and Kingston still has a lot of work to do in that regard.
Rob Matheson - Success to me whether personal, west end or as a community; would be continuing to move our city towards becoming a truly sustainable one, where all citizens, and small businesses can thrive and be all they can be.
What does this look like?
- Geared- to- income housing dispersed throughout a green livable community with plenty of active transportation and improved Public Transit, public parks and community gardens.
- Citizens receiving living wages for the work they do.
* Climate change adaptation and leveraging of Utilities Kingston into a Renewable Energy based Provider, and supporter of our residents in their own retrofitting of homes.
- Universal Basic Income for those that are not able to work.
Before it was cancelled by Doug Ford “Ontario’s UBI experiment was improving lives, reducing poverty, and allowing people to make better choices—exactly as its proponents had predicted. According to Wayne Lewchuk, a McMaster University economics professor who helped design the survey, more than three-quarters of respondents who had been working before the pilot stayed employed, with many using the payments to improve their circumstances. “Many of those who continued working were actually able to move to better jobs, jobs that had a higher hourly wage, that had in general better working conditions, that they felt were more secure,” he told the CBC’s “As It Happens”. Rather than discouraging people from working, the money bought them time to find better and more fulfilling jobs—ones that would ultimately create more tax revenue for the government.”
In the words of Tommy Douglas “We are all in this world together, and the only test of our character that matters is how we look after the least fortunate among us. How we look after each other, not how we look after ourselves. That is all that really matters I think.”
By investing and promoting geared to income housing, by increasing/improving public transit and bike trails, so there are less cars on the roads, by investing in more community gardens, to give citizens the ability to put fresh food on their tables; by creating and investing in a program like “Hidden Harvest” in Ottawa, where volunteers harvest fruit and nut trees rather than have the fruit and nuts go to waste.
By demanding as has been done in France, that all unsold food in grocery stores be donated to the needy, rather than thrown out. We can also support policies and regulations ending the packaging nightmare that contributes only to our waste and landfills. We can truly harness the power of our community, and fellow citizens, and allow all residents to strive for greater things for both themselves and the greater public good, most importantly our shared environment.
This will only have a net benefit to all of our good corporate citizens, and our real bottom line; the air we breathe, the water we drink, the earth that grows our food, and the happiness of our friends, family and neighbours that we share this beautiful and diverse space with. We must always act locally while thinking globally. Together WE CAN accomplish great things.
Hanny Philip - I want to have open channels of communication and act as a conduit between all residents and city council.