Kingston council approves diversity and inclusion committee, manager

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The City of Kingston is taking steps to create a more inclusive community, including within its own municipal ranks.

At their meeting Tuesday night, councillors approved the creation of an equity, diversity and inclusion advisory committee to assess and address racial barriers in Kingston.

Council also voted in favour of creating a diversity and inclusion manager, a position meant to start at city hall this year.

The city is working alongside people of colour in the community and with local organizations to advance and support equity, diversity and ensure inclusion is top of mind across all departments of the city.

“For underrepresented groups like myself, when they say that it’s been so long that we are having the conversations and keeping the conversation, we want to see some action,” said Wessam Ayad with KEYS Job Centre, which partnered with the city to prepare the recommendation report to council.

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“We are trying our best to kind of assess all the policies and procedures and come up with more inclusive policies and procedures to start with.”

According to the staff recommendation, the committee’s goal would be to review the city’s policies from the ground up and determine what changes need to be made to make Kingston more inclusive.

Click to play video: 'Kingston aims to combat systemic racism with new inclusion committee'
Kingston aims to combat systemic racism with new inclusion committee

“It’s making sure that we don’t have any of those barriers that might be there that may not be apparent. These are really important to examine and make sure, as part of an inclusive community, that whether it’s the people we’re hiring or the services that we’re offering, that they’re available to everybody,” Mayor Bryan Paterson said in an interview Tuesday.

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The action to start the committee was prompted by the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, which resulted in protests around the world, including in Kingston.

In July 2020, council voted to advance its corporate and community work on equity, diversity and inclusion.

Now, the results of that work are starting to be seen.

“I think that everyone in the community understands how important it is to be inclusive, to combat racism and discrimination, to create an open and welcoming community where everyone can succeed and thrive,” Paterson said.

The new manager position will cost $90,000 and be paid from the Working Fund Reserve in the 2022 budget.

— With files from Global News’ Alexandra Mazur. 

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