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Mayor tells Kingston business community affordable housing is top priority

Click to play video 'Kingston mayor tells business community affordable housing is a top priority' Kingston mayor tells business community affordable housing is a top priority
Mayor says housing is critical for economic growth in Kingston – Jan 15, 2019

Politicians from all three levels of government addressed close to one hundred members of the greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning.

Mayor Bryan Paterson told the group of business people affordable housing is a top priority for the newly elected council.

Kingston’s 0.6 per cent vacancy rate is the lowest in the province.

READ MORE: Kingston rental vacancy rate lowest in Ontario

The mayor says addressing the issue is necessary to maintain positive economic growth.

A housing task force is expected to be formed in the next month and to report back with recommendations by the year’s end at the latest, says Paterson.

“That gives us the majority of this term as council to implement those recommendations, and obviously the goal is to make significant progress on the housing issue.”

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He also unveiled a redesigned artist’s concept of the much-anticipated third crossing bridge.

According to the mayor, the redesign is one part cosmetic and one part practical.

Paterson said steel tariffs introduced by American president Donald Trump have forced the city to move to a concrete design with less steel in it.

“The commitment to the community is to do everything we can to bring this bridge on time and on budget.”

READ MORE: Kingston’s third bridge construction contract marks a first in North America

The bridge has a budget of $180 million with $60 million coming from each level of government. Any cost overruns would be borne by the municipality.

Along with contributing to the bridge, former Kingston mayor and current MP for Kingston and the Islands Mark Gerretsen spoke about federal investment in the community.

The federal Liberal government has sunk millions of dollars into not just the third crossing, but also research and development at Queen’s University and the municipal transit system.

A feather in Gerretsen’s cap is the promised return of the prison farm to the city.

Gerretsen says all the investments are part of a larger strategy that will position Kingston for further growth.

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“It’s an approach that goes to build the economy, to build the infrastructure that we have here so that we can be more prosperous moving forward.”

New Democrat MPP Ian Arthur, the environment critic at Queen’s Park, says a priority for himself and the NDP is to create a platform to build the green economy.

He says the current government’s cancellation of cap-and-trade has cost the province millions of dollars in investment.

“We need to reach out, we need to make sure that those companies have a home, that we create a business environment where that green investment wants to come into this province.”

The mayor also hinted at a future announcement he hopes will attract workers to Kingston. He called it the talent attraction hub, which will be aimed at drawing workers from the GTA facing long commutes and a high cost of living.