February Newsletter 2017

FKIH Feb 2017 update – a tad early.
1) Turtle Concerns Ontario-wide:
 Ontario Nature and David Suzuki petitions against culling of Snapping Turtles
2)  Engage for Change: Indigenous outreach for Truth and Reconciliation
3) Outer Station correction from George Dillon
4) Capitol project OMB challenges update
5) Kingston Ontario Transition Town – new Facebook page
6) Parking issue comments
7) Finally! – Possibility of Increased taxes for owners of empty downtown stores?
 
1) Ontario Nature and David Suzuki are asking for your support to protect Ontario’s turtles.  Deadline Jan 30/17
Please consider reading their reasons and signing this important petition ASAP.
https://ontarionature.thankyou4caring.org/crunch-time-for-snapping-turtles-and-bullfrogs?erid=2004741&trid=d58f6650-0d98-496c-a10e-a6b5cf3bfc85
Detailed information is included at the end of this update.

Here is the link to the David Suzuki petition:
http://action2.davidsuzuki.org/snappingturtle?utm_campaign=snappingTurtles-tellOntario-en-23jan2017&utm_source=mkto-first-ontario-link-button-body&utm_medium=email&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTXpReE5qbG1PRFl5TVRKayIsInQiOiJIMmE2bmRcL3MyQVF6cWxBc1wvRUI4S3JqVERMS2JMdWp1RW9ZSis4ZmJUT0NBcHJWSWE4VVV4N0w0RlF5YWtnaWxOQzlkUnV5T3ZLbllwd2VCN3cyMCtVeVVGazlORjJ4N0ZoQmlIMnU5cVJLMFNxMW9zckxGK2lwZllSXC9ZOENhWSJ9
 
2) Engage for Change:  Indigenous/Community outreach -part of Kingston’s Canada 150th initiative.
https://www.cityofkingston.ca/explore/culture-history/history/engage-for-change
Ten day-long talking circle workshops are being held throughout the city.
Contact Terri-Lynn Brennan: tbrennan@cityofkingston.ca

3) Correction from George Dillon re 1947 accident at the Outer Station:  “It was a steam engine, not a diesel.  Diesels were at least ten years away in the future.  The accident is described by Gordon Smithson in his book “At the Bend in the Road.”   Thanks George.

4) Capitol OMB Challenges: info FYI + request for help
The Ontario Municipal Board has asked the parties appealing the proposed high-rise tower at 223 Princess Street to a first hearing, scheduled for February 27 and 28, 2017
If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to help defray the legal costs of those Kingstonians who are taking the City to the OMB on a number of procedural issues pertaining to the Capitol decision, please contact Shirley Bailey of the Frontenac Heritage Foundation:  shirleyb132@gmail.com and/or contact Vision for Kingston.  Here is what Vision for Kingston has to say:

“The four OMB appeals challenging the Capitol project are going ahead. If we want these appeals to be successful, we need to make sure the appellants have the resources they need! Fundraising for these efforts has already begun. Here is the info you need to contribute: 

A fundraising committee has formed to help the appellants prepare the strongest possible case. We aim to raise $40,000 to cover the cost of legal and planning experts who have significant experience at the OMB. We would be extremely grateful for whatever amount you are able to give. If 40 donors were to give $1000 each, we would reach our goal; if 80 donors were to give $500 each, we would reach our goal; if 160 donors were to give $250 each, we would reach our goal; and so on. We have had a tremendous response to our initial fundraising, and have also garnered considerable in-kind donations of skills and expertise. Kingstonians are concerned and angry about the Capitol decision and what it means for the future of the city. This widespread concern puts our fundraising goal well within reach. 

If you are able to contribute, there are a number of ways you could make a donation. You could send an email money transfer to visionforkingston@gmail.com (please ensure that the answer to your security question is something we can easily decipher). You could write a cheque to “Vision for Kingston” and mail it to 121 Queen Street, #808, Kingston ON K7K 0G6. We could also collect cash or cheques in person. If you have any questions, or could suggest other people who might support this appeal, please contact us at visionforkingston@gmail.com. “   
Further information is available on the Vision for Kingston Facebook page.

 
5) Kingston Ontario Transition Town – new Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/groups/704013913096375/

Some interesting features on cities and change
 

6) Parking Issue Comments from Williamsville resident sent to Staff and Williamsville residents, Jan 24, 2017:
I have included this in the update as it is an interesting reaction in a neighbourhood where parking restrictions are in place.

“I’m late to the game on parking comments, but I thought I’d throw in my opinion based on a year or so of the new parking regulations. I live on Mack Street on Victoria Park, and the new rule has effectively eliminated all day parking. Previously, Queen’s and KGH staff would fill the street up starting at 7AM. I have off street parking, but the parked cars interfered with access for deliveries and service vehicles, and were usually parked so close to the street corners that visibility was very poor. Turning on to Mack from, say Frontenac, was very hazardous. Winter snow added to the problem, with the streets narrowed down to one lane because cars were parked next to snowbanks.
My main complaint is that, as a resident, I am expected to pay a monthly fee to park in front of my house, and I must ask permission for trades people to park for service calls. The restriction is from 9-10 AM, and I was nearly ticketed while I loaded an uncooperative child into the car on a day when we were running late for school.
I suggest a solution would be for the city to print up a detachable resident parking permit, plus a visitor/service pass, on each tax bill. That way every property would get a “free parking” pass for one car, and a temporary permit to be handed out to the plumber/electrician on service calls. Since tax bills are mailed out twice a year, the passes could have a six month lifespan and a clearly marked expiry date to prevent hoarding/bootlegging.
On a related topic, I think that the blanket overnight parking ban from December through March is more a tax grab than a necessity. We’ve had almost no need for snow plowing this winter. Issuing snow related parking tickets when it’s been above freezing and raining for a week makes the city look opportunistic. Kingston should adopt a policy similar to that of Ottawa. Overnight parking bans, applied as needed, with media warnings issued. The fines for interfering with snow clearance should be hefty enough to make people pay attention to the conditions.”
Rob McCleave
 
7) Finally!  Possibility of Increased taxes for empty downtown stores?
As so many members of the Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour have been upset about this issue for a very long time, I’m including this item as welcome news. The City of Toronto is taking the lead on changing the provincial legislation that gives tax breaks to owners of empty downtown businesses.  Here is Kingston CAO Gerard Hunt’s response to inquiries from several councillors as to whether or not Kingston might follow suit.
From: Hunt,Gerard <GHunt@cityofkingston.ca>
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2017 2:15 PM
To: Mayor.Council.CAO.City Clerk
Cc: Ryttersgaard,Melanie; Kennedy,Desiree
Subject: Vacancy Rebate and Reduction Programs

A number of councillors have been following recent news about potential changes to the vacancy rebate program and have asked whether or not changes to the practices in Kingston might be considered. Staff have also been following the issue and offer the following information at this time.
Vacant Rebate and Reduction Programs:
The Province has recently provided legislation to allow municipalities broader flexibility for 2017 and future years to tailor the vacancy rebate program to reflect community needs and circumstances.
The legislation gives municipalities the flexibility to design their own vacancy rebate programs, with potential to opt out if desired.  The Minister of Finance will have regulatory authority to approve custom vacancy rebate programs and will be looking for some consistency throughout the province.
The Province has been reviewing the Vacant Unit Rebate and Vacant/Excess Land Subclasses. The review was initiated in response to municipal concerns regarding the appropriateness of the lower tax level provided through these programs and any unintended implications this may have for local economies.  Since the 1990s, these programs have provided tax rebates and reductions to property owners who have vacancies in commercial and industrial buildings or land.  In response to municipal requests, the Province introduced a legislative framework through Bill 70, Building Ontario up for Everyone Act (Budget Measures), 2016  to facilitate potential program changes as a result of the ongoing review.
What we know so far – Municipalities can implement changes by notifying the Minister of Finance of their intent to utilize this flexibility and providing details of the proposed changes along with a council resolution. The Province is requiring that the municipality demonstrate that it considered impact on the business community through consultations before recommending any changes to the program.  A regulation will be filed for any approved municipal programs.
The Ministry of Finance is distributing a check-list to further support the implementation of any proposed changes and to provide further details on the process.  The check-list will include considerations for making changes to the programs, including direction for engaging with the local business sector.  City staff have requested a copy of the checklist which is supposed to be available sometime in January 2017.  While the Province has said it will be looking for consistency, they are not providing any direction as to options, leaving it to the municipalities to somehow coordinate efforts in order to ensure consistency.  Depending on the options considered, actual program details and implementation could vary significantly.
Staff will continue to monitor this matter as further details are confirmed. Should council or councilor wish to consider changes to a current policy, a motion would be an appropriate way to initiate the review, analysis and recommendations.
City of Kingston|216 Ontario Street, Kingston ON K7L 2Z3 Desiree Kennedy –613-546-4291 ext. 2220dkennedy@cityofkingston.ca
 
 MORE TURTLE INFORMATION FOR THOSE INTERESTED:  Please consider writing a letter right away. 
As one of the objects of our corporation is stewardship of our natural environment, we feel justified in making this request.
 
Ontario Nature’s comments Regarding the Ontario Snapping Turtle Harvest:
“The Snapping Turtle is listed as a Species at Risk in Ontario. Although still widespread, the growing threats to this turtle means that populations are decreasing across the province. The science is clear about turtle declines, yet Ontario still allows a legal Snapping Turtle hunt. The government is holding a public comment period (until 30 January 2017) to gather feedback about the harvest.

We are urging those concerned about Snapping Turtles and biodiversity in general to provide comments. Instead of the proposed change to harvest levels, which will continue to threaten the long-term viability of this species in Canada, we are asking for the harvest to be ended permanently. Linked below is a letter drafted by the Canadian Herpetological Society (CHS) that will be submitted to the government through their Ontario Environmental Registry website….
 Informed submissions to the Ontario Environmental Registry is important for guiding decision-making and can be made by anyone, including those living outside of Ontario. If you feel this harvest should be ended based on 1) the fact that the Snapping Turtle is an at-risk species and 2) available science shows that a turtle harvest is not sustainable, please take a few minutes to make your opinion known. Feel free to review the science in the CHS’ letter and incorporate this materials into your response. You will also notice that the CHS identifies concerns about the lack of science behind the Bullfrog harvest.

Original letters are best, but a sample letter follows. Please note that the relevant Environmental Registry numbers must be specified in your letter (EBR 012-9169 and EBR 012-9170) :

“Comment regarding EBR listings 012-9169 and 012-9170: I am writing to request that the Snapping Turtle and Bullfrog be removed as Game Species under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. Snapping Turtle are exceptionally susceptible to long-term population declines when adults and older juveniles are removed from the wild. Their late age of maturity, low egg and juvenile survival rates, and need for older animals in the population means that it can take many decades to replace adults lost from an area. Snapping Turtles already face exceptionally high adult mortality from human-caused threats, and to allow a federally and provincially listed Species At Risk to be harvested goes against the available science, and further threatens recovery efforts.
Regarding the removal of the American Bullfrog as a Game Amphibian Species under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act: The Bullfrog Harvest is not supported by science, and the growing threats to this species make them susceptible to further declines in Ontario.
Thank you.” 

There are two current amendments on the EBR website where your input will be valuable. The same comments are relevant for both, but if you only have time for one, comment on Link 1 (EBR listings 012-9170). Follow the links below to be directed to the appropriate Ontario Environmental Registry website page. On the right side of the page, click “Submit Comment”. This is where you fill in your comment. An original comment, or information from the sample letter above can be cut and pasted into the comment box:

Link 1: https://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTMxMDUy&statusId=MTk4NjY5&language=en
Link 2: https://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTMxMDUx&statusId=MTk4NjY3&language=en

Full letter in response to Snapping Turtle and Bullfrog Harvest (i.e. the science behind the harvests) from the Canadian Herpetological Society:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/0qtzlri6km4fec0/Snapping%20Turtle%20Harvest%20Response_Cdn%20Herpetological%20Society.pdf?dl=0
We thank you for your commitment to science and evidence-based decision making.”
 
Happy February,
Mary