The Chamber membership asked three questions of our candidates, details below.
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?
Gregory Ridge - The main issue affecting local businesses is the ability to attract and retain talent. The two largest obstacles are the ability for potential workers to find housing that comfortably fits their budget, and accessibility of family physicians. While these issues may not fall directly in the hands of the municipal government, there are steps that the City Administration and City Council can take to guarantee future improvements. Building on current progress we can ensure stronger retention strategies when strategically backed with City resources.
We must increase the stock of affordable housing. This is my number one priority and the prevalent social issue - we are in a housing crisis across the country. This issue affects businesses and our local economy. The sociological and economic challenges feed into one another so they need to be addressed together. Kingston has a large service-based economy with a foundation 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 to or close to those of major metropolitan areas, then it stands that many of these workers will go elsewhere where there are available and attainable amenities, including family physicians.
Alexandria Liu - Some of the top issues I see facing local businesses are employee retention and lower monthly revenue. This is caused by a mix of many things, including low wages and the rising cost of living. Expanding social programs will put more money back into the pockets of Kingstonians, which will put money back into our local economy. I also believe that offering reduced services such as snow removal and garbage pickup to local businesses can help them reduce costs in turn for raised wages, which will help with employee retention.
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?
Gregory Ridge - Yes, I believe that Kingston needs to support, attract, and retain businesses and jobs. If elected, as the Council representative for King’s Town, which includes much of the downtown core, this is a responsibility that I will take very seriously. I have first-hand experience hearing and learning from many local businesses who were - and still are - struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am fully aware of the difficulties of operating a small to medium-sized business and the vulnerabilities that they face.
My goals for the file are detailed above in the answer to question one.
Alexandria Liu - Yes, I believe Kingston can do more to support and grow our local businesses. I would use my seat on council to help increase the amount of well-paying city jobs that help our everyday Kingstonians reduce their cost of living so they can spend more in our stores. Everyone wants to spend money and enjoy the better things in life, but not everyone in our city can afford to. If we support our residents by improving and expanding publicly run programs that reduce the cost of living, then they will live better lives, feel more motivated, and spend more money within our economy.
Question 3: How would you define success in this role for yourself, the city at large, and the district you intend to serve?
Gregory Ridge - Success for me means completing key strategic objectives based on my election policy platform. I see our main priorities as: increasing affordable housing and funding for social services, as well as reviewing and enhancing environmental and sustainable practices. The King’s Town district will see success in the completion of these goals while strategically limiting disruption to the current way of life and providing long-term enhancements.
Alexandria Liu - I am running in the King’s Town district, and many residents know that this part of town has many unhoused residents suffering in unliveable conditions. If elected, I would use my privilege to expand and create the programs necessary to lift these folks out of poverty. These programs would create jobs for residents, and help raise the buying power of our residents. When we help lift up one person, everyones rises.
*The Chamber reached out to all candidates for response. Keith Bilow did not submit a response.