The Chamber membership asked three questions of our candidates, details below.
Kingscourt-Rideau District #7 Candidates
Brandon Tozzo Joe Dowser Tom Gingrich
Darryl McIntosh Michael Judd Keaton Zandbergen
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?
Brandon Tozzo - For businesses and the City to grow and thrive, we must be able to attract and retain an engaged workforce. There are two large issues for people considering Kingston, the ability to find housing that fits their budget, and access to health care, including family physicians. While outside the direct purview of the municipal government, the City and Council can take steps to ensure improvements. It would include building on current progress to ensure a stronger retention strategies when supported by targeted City resources and regulations within its jurisdiction.
Kingston has a lack of affordable housing. It is a priority; and the timely social issue, to ensure a balanced approach to development and ensure affordable housing across the city, including improving accessibility for persons with disabilities. The housing crisis affects local businesses and our economy and need to be addressed simultaneously. Kingston has a large service-based workforce focused in retail, tourism, and hospitality. The City needs to be able to retain the labour for this industry by offering affordable housing. If rents are equal or close to those of major metropolitan areas, then it stands that wages should be set to match to ensure those workers, and the businesses they support, remain. These workers will go elsewhere if wages are insufficient and other amenities, such as family physicians, are less available.
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?
Brandon Tozzo - Yes, I believe that Kingston needs to support, attract, and retain businesses and jobs. If elected to council, I will push to ensure that employment opportunities for new businesses, through zoning and development, are spread equally across the City and especially, in under-utilised industrial, commercial and retail space such as exists in Kingscourt-Rideau. Through my involvement in the community and as a result of canvassing since May, I have heard from residents and local businesses who are still struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My own workplace routine, and that of my wife, a school teacher, continue to be uncertain and fluid. I appreciate that local small to medium-sized business must face even greater vulnerabilities.
The goals I have for council include the basis of city-wide, affordable housing, around which the City and Council can ensure road and infrastructure improvements while surpassing the Provincial standard on accessibility for our residents with disabilities.
Question 3: How would you define success in this role for yourself, the city at large, and the district you intend to serve?
Brandon Tozzo - I would see success as an increase in attention to issues of importance to citizens, such as affordable housing and accessibility. I would set my bar of success at completing improvements to local concerns residents helped me identify, such as traffic, roads and other infrastructure, including parks and sidewalks. I see our main priorities as increasing affordable housing to provide a liveable city, sufficient funding for city services and maintain Kingston’s leading attention to environmental and sustainable practices. Kingscourt-Rideau has distinct community feels that must be increased and enhanced for future city-building while ensuring the character of these neighbourhoods.
*The Chamber reached out to all candidates for response. Joseph Dowser, Tom Gingrich, Michael Judd, Darryl McIntosh, and Keaton Zandbergen did not submit a response.