The Chamber membership asked three questions of our candidates, details below
Sydenham District #10 Candidates
Peter Stroud Rami Maasarani Conny Glenn
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?
Peter Stroud - Kingston has a reputation as a very livable City. I have worked hard over the last eight years to improve this reputation, with various initiatives such as park improvements and pedestrian safety. This livability makes it desirable, attracting businesses and workers alike to Kingston. We have also beautified all Districts thanks to the very successful Neighbourhood Tree Planting Program, whose budget I doubled by amendment in 2021.
Rami Maasarani - Based on my understanding, the issues of affordability, workforce attraction/retention, and adjusting to a new way of doing business as we start to emerge from the pandemic are some of the main issues impacting businesses in Kingston. On the issue of affordability, I would encourage businesses to take advantage of the networking opportunities and services offered by the Chamber of Commerce to learn from each other's experiences, find innovative ways to conduct business, and collaborate where possible. In terms of growing the workforce in Kingston, I would work to create opportunities for collaboration between post-secondary institutions and small and medium sized businesses. This would allow students to gain valuable work experience in their program of studies while diversifying the local workforce. Finally, I will take the time to listen to business owners to understand their needs and goals as they look for new ways to grow, and help wherever I can.
Conny Glenn- Local businesses have a number of challenges, which vary depending on type of business and location. For bricks and mortar businesses taxes and rent. Tax rates need some proportionality for the size and location. So reviewing how we tax business is important as small business simply does not have the same capacity as large business. Rental costs are linked tightly with our property shortage, so as we build houses for people it's important to make sure we have spaces for business. Aside form this all businesses are challenged with needing workers. Housing of course is part of this challenge, but so is linking people with jobs. I would support more job fairs that link potential job seekers with employers. Recruiting can take great deal of time and this helps build familiarity which will help create solutions.
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?
Peter Stroud - In order to attract both business and tourism to Kingston, we need to create a pedestrian-friendly zone near Market Square, including some appropriate traffic restrictions, and also build the long-anticipated waterfront Confederation Basin promenade, which I helped to design. This work is scheduled to finish in 2024 and I will push for it to finish on time, with the necessary features that will make it a game-changer in the City centre for all to enjoy.
Rami Maasarani - Yes, I do believe that Kingston can, and should, do more to attract businesses to the area. The tourism and hospitality industries were severely affected by the pandemic and should be supported as they gradually start to re-emerge so that they can once again thrive. I would also like to encourage collaboration between the City and the local college and universities. I believe that if the students of St Lawrence College, Queen's University, and the Royal Military College feel supported by the City, they are more likely to want to remain in town after graduation, which would increase and diversify the local workforce. Furthermore, these institutions are home to many talented students and faculty, some of whom are conducting cutting-edge research which could evolve into new business ideas. By being supportive of this research and collaborating where appropriate, the City of Kingston could distinguish itself as a place where innovation can thrive, thereby attracting new business ventures.
Conny Glenn- In short, yes. But we need a better vision for business and the city that incorporates consideration for what our community really needs.
There are three key things I would like to see.
- Attracting businesses that will enhance the public good of the utmost importance. I would like a 'grow green' business initiative. What that means is businesses and business practices that support fixing our challenges. For example, food insecurity and the environment are both large issues. Attracting hydroponic business to the city would allow us to grow more food locally which helps feed people and reduces food transport.
- I would also like to see us building a 15 minute city. So rather than suburban sprawl we create a city where you can walk to what you need in 15 minutes. This model will encourage small businesses within neighbourhoods, make the city more walkable which improves health and livability, and reduces the need for car use (taking the load off the road) which helps the environment and infrastructure. This will help attract and keep people in the city.
- Kingston needs proper facilities to attract conferences and events to boost tourism throughout the year. We have a city that people love to visit because it is picturesque, but they need adequate facilities that allow them to come for work or education or sport and then stay to enjoy the other things we have to offer. To support this and stay in keeping with our environmental goals we need to work with VIA and other transportation providers to ensure it's easy to get to Kingston without a car and then easy to get around Kingston.
Question 3: How would you define success in this role for yourself, the city at large, and the district you intend to serve?
Peter Stroud - I chaired Heritage Kingston for four years, while living in and cherishing a Heritage home.I chaired Environment, Infrastructure and Transportation for six years.I started the Double the Tree Canopy city-wide initiative in 2015.
I successfully lobbied to remove the illegally parked cars from the dirt pathway in City Park, and oversaw other improvements to Sydenham parks.
I helped bring respectful debate back to Council Chambers after a very bitter Council the term before I joined. The quality of the debates has improved greatly over the last eight years.
I personally wrote numerous successful Council Motions to improve the local environment
I respond to all residents who write or call me
All of these accomplishments, and more, make me proud to represent Sydenham for the last eight years.
Rami Maasarani - To me, success would be defined in my ability to help the people I am meant to serve. This could take many forms, such as helping someone navigate City Hall, assisting a business owner with a grant application, or facilitating collaborative projects between students and the community. Ultimately I believe that we have the ability to create positive change by working together, and I would very much welcome the opportunity to contribute to this goal.
Conny Glenn- Success for me is about implementing concrete solutions to the issues facing both the district and the city, but doing so in a manner that's in keeping with our collective values. I believe that if we are bold we can house our citizens affordably, make sure they can afford healthy food, have good jobs and an opportunity for family and fun. We can do this while also preserving our heritage district and building a beautiful, walkable, environmentally sound and safe community. The issues we face are interconnected, so success will ultimately be in the elegant solution which solves more than one issue and doesn't create others.
*The Chamber reached out to all candidates for response. Paul Joseph Charbonneau did not submit a response.