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Pittsburgh and Countryside Districts All Candidates Meeting Report, November 1, 2006

This Article is By: Kingston Electors    On  Nov. - 02, 2006

Pittsburgh and Countryside Districts All Candidates Meeting Report

By Kingston Electors,
Volunteer Reporting Team

November 1, 2006

It seems the City has a failure to communicate.

That was the message that came out of the all candidates’ debate held for Pittsburgh and Countryside candidates Wednesday night.

An overflow crowd peppered candidates for Council and the Mayor’s chair and seemed to be saying the current Council has moved too fast on the new entertainment centre but not fast enough on a Third Crossing of the Cataraqui River.

If nothing else, the two-hour meeting provided the audience with information it seemed to lack.

It seemed to come as a surprise to many that preliminary work on the bridge has actually started. Talked about since the early 60s, a preferred location has been set (Elliott Ave. to Gore Rd.) and an environmental assessment will determine if that location is best. If it is, by then the Wellington Street extension will be in place and the widening of John Counter Blvd. will be completed as links to the new facility.

Everyone, it seems, favours a third crossing---including all the candidates. Timing became the issue and the candidates for mayor were pressed to provide possible dates when the project would begin.

Mayor Harvey Rosen said if the environmental assessment, design, and provincial/federal funding can be completed, the tender for construction could be let before the end of the new Council’s four year term.

Mayoralty candidate Kevin George estimated the environmental assessment alone will take 18 to 24 months.

Rosen and George disagree with mayoralty hopeful Rick Downes who wants to take a $4.8 million provincial grant and put it in a “savings account” as a down payment on the bridge.

Rosen and George argue that the money would only depreciate while costs increase and the money should be used for much needed road repair in the city. In addition, having the money in savings would discourage the province from contributing on a larger scale to the bridge product.

Another issue that seemed to catch some by surprise was raw sewage being pumped into the Cataraqui River. When a questioner asked why this is allowed to happen, Mayor Rosen said close to $ 150 million has been spent to fix the problem and even during recent heavy rains, there was no need to divert the overflow as had previously been the case in Kingston.

It turns out that another priority for local residents is a liquor and beer store to avoid the long trek downtown through heavy traffic to stock up for the weekend.

Incumbent Pittsburgh Councillor Leonore Foster reminded the audience she had tried mightily to get an LCBO outlet at the Rideau Centre---but failed. One of her competitors, Brian Reitzel, a former 30-year employee of the LCBO, agreed with Foster that the City has little influence over the LCBO. And Richard Moller, also in the race for Pittsburgh Councillor, said what the City needs to do is encourage more retail growth through wise zoning and marketing and beer and liquor outlets will follow.

The discussion turned out to be equally gloomy on the prospects of replacing a postal outlet that was closed last year.

An issue that found near unanimity among the candidates for Councillor was whether the City should try to move the new sports and entertainment centre to the Memorial Centre site (as proposed by mayoralty candidate Rick Downes.)

Brian Reitzel said it would be “foolhearty to think you can move a project like that.” He said such a move would create “ a black hole with our tax money” and concluded the best thing was to “ make the best of a bad situation” with the current North Block location.

Councillor Foster said the move would be “prohibitive and wasteful.” The project would have to go back to square one at a huge cost and neighbours of the Memorial
Centre don’t want the project located there. They want parks and green space, she said.

Richard Moller’s position was that he doubts such a move would be possible “but it’s worth taking a look at. “

Councillor George Sutherland (whose Countryside opponent Joyce McLeod King wasn’t able to attend the debate) said the move just isn’t feasible. …”they’re already digging…by the time the new council is in a position to vote on this we’ll be starting construction,” he said, citing litigation costs as a major concern if an attempt was made to break the many contracts involved.

Other topics raised by the audience during the two-hour debate included support for the military, the Official Plan, Urban Growth Strategy, vandalism, and better public transit to alleviate traffic congestion.

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