The City of Kingston will work to refine its economic recovery strategy in downtown, including the Love Kingston Market, following growing complaints about homeless or vulnerable people causing public safety concerns among visitors, according to the principal. Kingston city council bureaucrat.
“Staff and partners recognize that these issues affect people’s lives and could threaten the business and vitality of the center,” according to a recent report by Managing Director (CAO) Lanie Hurdle.
She says having a downtown area where residents, tourists, businesses and everyone else can feel safe and secure, while providing compassionate care and support to those less fortunate, is vital to the overall health of the city and its residents. .
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The Council approved a staff report on September 7 that recommends establishing a focus group and consulting with partners to “explore possible collaborative solutions that will better support individuals and businesses.”
The problem of homeless or vulnerable people displaying aggressive behavior in the city center may not be new, but the city acknowledges that complaints have increased since the city center began to emerge from lockdowns related to the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, this has made people (business staff, customers, visitors) feel threatened and intimidated by some behaviors. Complaints about needles, human waste, trash and trash have also been common, as have vandalism problems, ”Hurdle noted.
Concerns arose in the months after Kingston introduced a series of initiatives to make the city center more attractive to residents and visitors, including loosening sidewalk yard rules to extend the season and facilitate have business owners install one on a public sidewalk. as part of the Love Kingston Marketplace initiative.
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The staff has taken a similar and flexible approach to allowing temporary yards on private property both downtown and other parts of the city while relaxing its zoning enforcement rules.
As city officials seek collaborative solutions to address concerns about rising rates of public loitering in the city center, they also have the council’s permission to continue with a temporary use ordinance for the yard season. of 2022.
“They would not need to reapply (for a permit) to extend their season,” says Hurdle’s report.
The laid-back yard rules are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2022, at which time all outdoor patios will be subject to the requirements of existing zoning statutes, including applying for seasonal permits.
Coun. Rob Hutchison raised concerns about an unidentified business that has extended a backyard to a residential area in his King’s Town district.
“There is noise from this business and I get complaints. The noise lasts 8 hours a day, seven days a week. “
In response to your concerns, the council supported the Hutchison statute amendment to disallow a temporary outdoor patio under current zoning exemption rules if it encroaches on residential areas or street lines.
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While much of Hurdle’s report focuses on supporting the economic well-being of downtown businesses, it adds that homeless and economic survival issues should not be treated separately.
“In fact, they are very closely linked. There are a number of elements involved and having an active, vibrant and successful downtown that is welcoming to all requires approaching it in a more comprehensive and respectful way. “
Hurdle says city officials will work with downtown stakeholders and social service agencies to “ensure a better quality of life for downtown people and better supports for businesses.”
The staff told the council that they will ensure that people with lived experiences are also consulted through this process.
The CAO says a final report with recommendations will be presented to the council within the next five months.
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