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Kingston: Sydenham District Mayoralty and All Candidates Debate

This Article is By: Mary Zureik, Kingston Electors    On  Oct. - 27, 2006

Kingston: Sydenham District

Mayoralty and All Candidates Debate

October 25, 2006

By: Mary Zureik

On October 25, the Sydenham District Tenants & Ratepayers Association (SWTRA) organized an all-candidates and mayoralty debate at the Wilson Room, Central Library. This well-attended meeting (over 130 chairs were filled, plus a few people were standing in the wings) began with the four candidates for council: Floyd Patterson (incumbent), Bill Glover (past president of SWTRA), Alex Huntley (Queen’s student), and Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Queen’s student).

The second part of the evening was devoted to mayoralty candidates: Harvey Rosen (incumbent), Rick Downes (current city councillor), and Kevin George (current city councillor).

The Mayoralty Debate

All candidates are serious about their own view of the world. These “broad brush” views trickle down into the day-to-day operations of municipal government and impact citizens’ perception of what kind of leader they want to represent them.

Priorities shared by candidates: keep taxes at a reasonable level, provide affordable housing (the 2000 Focus Kingston strategic plan originally placed the issue on a “to do later” list; it has now gained prominence with all candidates), protect our heritage and natural environment, provide better transportation for all, and enhance outdoor recreation.

Rick Downes’ motto is “A Mayor Who Listens” and his main concern is to introduce an attitude change with open and accountable government. He supports more public consultation on issues, an “Inclusive Community. Put Citizens First.” His view is that taxpayer money should benefit all citizens as much as possible and be used to support general infrastructure (roads and sewers). He didn’t seem to support big-ticket items.

With regard to his role on council he pointed out how many times he confronted the “top down” view of Mayor Rosen: He passed negative votes in council against the automatic assignment of financial donors’ names to public property without public consultation, more consultation with citizen groups about the location of the LVEC leading to his negative vote about the North Block location, and call for a review of the publicly financed KEDCO.

His specific promises if elected are described in his pamphlet (see He is concerned about environmental issues: public discussion on cosmetic use of pesticide and cycling paths. He supports better funding for the arts.

For more information about Rick Downes see other sections of the Kingston Electors website:

Kevin George’s priority is providing jobs in Kingston for young people to encourage them to stay in Kingston. This could happen if more businesses were encouraged to locate in Kingston. He also supports an open, transparent government. He does not believe KEDCO can justify the expense. He supports similar programs as others (see above). He differs on the LVEC (see below).
Kevin George's website address

For more information about Kevin George see other sections of the Kingston Electors website:

Harvey Rosen sees the role of mayor as one of negotiating with those in power – provincial and federal levels of government and Queen’s University Development office are the groups and individuals most mentioned last night. I suspect he also has contact with others in the community who hold high-end positions. His view is that progress has been made on the list of priorities that were put in place in 2003 and he wishes to continue making headway on this list.

He reported that promises from his 2003 Election platform have been met: strong housing growth (a world-wide phenomenon), great strides in infrastructure (many already on the books before the election, although I believe the LVEC was under this category), better relationship with the federal and provincial governments (perhaps), better tone with Council (depends on what side of the table one is sitting on). His website is at

For more information about Harvey Rosen see other sections of the Kingston Electors website:

Audience Concerns:

1) LVEC: Downes and George and would open up the discussion of location, advocating a move to the Memorial Centre site. Rosen believes project should stay on the North Block.

2) Budgets: Why do some boards (e.g. police, health, library, KEDCO) submit budgets that are independent of city scrutiny while others (e.g. arts council) have to receive a grant based on the assessment of the city? Downes says it is not fair to leave to the city staff to work on all budgets; George believes the discrepancy is unfair; Rosen believes the mayor should be aware and play a role in these issues.

3) Provincial Funds: Should provincial funds be spent right away or saved for future projects (road money spent now or saved for the third crossing)? Downes wants to save the $4.8 million provincial transportation grant as a downpayment of a third crossing over the Cataraqui River. George believes money should be spent now as there are savings in the long-run (repaving roads now end up cheaper than waiting for more serious roadwork). Rosen says funds should be spent, otherwise other government agencies won’t believe we really need the money.

4) Halfway House:All candidates agreed that the federal government is in charge of location and expansion of community rehabilitation facilities. George believes Kingston has too many beds for ex-offenders compared to other communities.

5) KEDCO: This topic led to the most spirited confrontation of the evening. Members of the KEDCO board in attendance at the meeting pointedly asked for specifics of the claim made in Downes brochure that “… city funding of KEDCO [needs] stronger conflict of interest guidelines.” Downes’ response is outlined in his brochure: “Make KEDCO representatives of our entire community, not just those with a commercial interest in its decisions.”

At this stage it was late in the evening; the moderator closed the meeting.

Please Note:

Reports on election events are provided by Kingston Electors to help further discussions and debate on municipal issues. The observations, comments or opinions expressed are those of the reporter and do not necessarily reflect those of Kingston Electors.

-- Kingston Electors