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Councillor, mayor face off over proposed downtown St. Lawrence College campus

Debate at city council heated up over a proposed college development in kingston's downtown

A debate that first erupted in Kingston’s city council chambers has spilled out onto Twitter.

On Tuesday evening, Coun. Peter Stroud challenged a decision Mayor Bryan Paterson made during discussions over the location of a proposed downtown campus for St. Lawrence College.

READ MORE: Kingston council to vote on moving forward on possible downtown St. Lawrence college campus

The idea for a campus has long been in the works, but on Tuesday, a city staff report to council asked for permission to enter into negotiations with the college. That permission was granted, but not without a fight from Stroud, who first asked to defer the discussions until the fourth quarter of 2020.

The motion to defer was proposed “to consider other locations and for the impact on the immediate area with regard to the Wolfe Island Ferry dock improvements to be more clear to council.”

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The Mayor then opened council up for discussions, but limited those discussions to “time and place.”

Paterson himself asked council to vote against the motion to defer, saying deferring would bar any communication between the city and the college in the near future.

“That effectively sets us back two years and getting any chance of getting this priority done,” Paterson responded.

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Stroud took issue with Paterson’s plea to council, saying it did not refer to time or place.

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“The time is Q4 2020 and the place is city council,” Stroud said. “In this case he was talking about strategic priorities.”

Paterson, acting as the council chair, decided to allow his own interpretation of time and place. This prompted Stroud, in a rare move, to challenge Paterson’s decision.

Paterson said this is his first time as mayor he has been challenged in such a way.

I was surprised, only because it’s the way that I’ve always ruled on motions to defer,” Paterson said.

Stroud argued that Paterson was changing the rules of council in order to support a project he favoured.

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I don’t understand why … just because you’re in favor of this particular thing, that you’re changing the rules of order,” Stroud said during the council meeting.

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Nevertheless, Paterson said he specifically brought up Stroud’s right to challenge so that council would be able to rule on the procedural disagreement.

“The challenge to the chair is there for a reason. In fact, in the meeting, I was the one that suggested to Coun. Stroud, that if he was unhappy with my ruling that that he could challenge the chair,” said Paterson.

That challenge lost seven to four, with Jeff McLaren, Lisa Osanic, Simon Chapelle, and Stroud himself voting against the mayor.

The motion to defer also lost, but by a slimmer margin — six to five.

The next day, Stroud took to Twitter to reiterate his disagreement with Paterson’s argument against his deferral motion.

On Thursday, Paterson responded, arguing that he has always ruled that time and place discussions also include “implications” of time and place.

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“Peter, if you’d like to clarify the wording of our procedural bylaw, I’d be more than willing to work on a motion with you,” Paterson wrote in a reply.

Discussions between the city and St. Lawrence College for the proposed development will continue in the coming months, and Paterson expects it will take a year for discussions on the project to wrap up.

But once his challenge was defeated, Stroud made sure to urge council to keep an open mind to when it comes to locations.

“Until the planning approval is approved, nothing is final. So other options may arise,” Stroud said.

Stroud did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

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