Bryan Paterson has clinched another term as mayor. With his win, the majority of voters in Kingston have once again chosen Paterson’s vision of growth.
Ontario municipal election 2018 profiles
Paterson won almost 70 per cent of the nearly 35,000 votes cast in Kingston Monday evening. Vicki Schmolka came in second with about 22 per cent, Rob Matheson came in third with just over 7 per cent and Eric Lee came in fourth with 1.6 per cent of the vote. See the results for councillors here.
Although Schmolka gave Paterson a run for his money during the campaign — her campaign focused on curbing high rise developments downtown — in the end it was Paterson’s track record of doing exactly that, building Kingston up, that got him re-elected by a landslide.
Paterson often focused on his past accomplishments during the campaign, like getting the third crossing confirmed and ready to build, opening the newly improved Breakwater Park and sealing business deals with international companies like Feihe, the Chinese milk plant that promises to create 250 jobs to Kingston.
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During an all candidates debate hosted by Global Kingston, Paterson promised a vote for him was a vote against stagnancy, a direction in which he said his biggest rival Schmolka would take the city.
“It’s very much a choice between growth and progress, or shrinking back and missing the opportunities in front of us.”
Many in Schmolka’s camp have indeed called for the shrinking of development projects approved by Paterson’s council in the downtown area, buildings along Queen Street reaching as high as 23 storeys.
Paterson and his council have been criticized for the level of secrecy used to secure some of these deals, as well as moving forward with the builds in the downtown core despite the city’s official plan and zoning bylaws only allowing for buildings about eight storeys high.
The argument between the two camps has caused a stalemate in Kingston — new developments approved for the downtown core have been held up by OMB appeals, or with its replacement the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, making Kingston’s housing vacancy rate plummet to 0.7 per cent.
For the most part, even when Paterson’s platform focuses on other aspect likes taxes or homelessness, it depends heavily on the success of the developments he pushed for in Kington.
The now second-term-mayor has also been criticized for his yearly tax increase of 2.5 per cent. Paterson says the increase is meant to keep up with inflation, but candidates like Matheson and Schmolka argued that people’s salaries couldn’t keep up.
Paterson has promised to cap the tax increase at the same or below inflation by expanding the tax base — an expansion he says will come from the injecting hundreds of new apartments or condos into the downtown core and bringing more international businesses to Kingston.
The added tax revenues from these new downtown buildings are also Paterson’s answer to homelessness, high rental fees and empty storefronts in the downtown core.
New rental spaces will free up the current spaces that are currently rented out at a premium, opening up more affordable accommodations for those who need them. Intensification of the downtown area will also bring more businesses to stores who see a huge lull in the winter months, when tourism lags, according to Paterson’s platform.
But that tourism could be in danger, according to those who share Schmolka’s point of view. Kingston’s historic downtown limestone buildings could be marred by looming modern towers, taking away the city’s quaintness and making it just another city.
Although Schmolka criticized Paterson on a few other points, the race really came down to the downtown cityscape, and just how high it should be. With Paterson’s win, it looks like perhaps the sky’s the limit, but he’ll still have to keep in mind that some of the electorate voted against his vision of Kingston.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.