Kingston metropolis council defers plan for open door air-con ban

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Elliot Ferguson

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March 24, 2021 • • 9 hours ago • • 3 minutes read Kingston City Council has postponed a plan banning companies from leaving their doors open while their air conditioners are running. Photo by Elliot Ferguson /.The Whig standard

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KINGSTON – Despite the frustration of some members, the city council approved a motion by staff to again postpone a proposed statute prohibiting companies from leaving their doors open while their air conditioning is on.

The plan to develop the statute along the lines of similar rules for Europe and the United States was one of the first initiatives on climate change approved by the Council after it adopted the climate emergency statement.

But almost two years later, and more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic, the city council postponed the plan for a second time to give city workers more time to consult with affected companies.

The publicity work that the city has already carried out, which showed that many companies had concerns about the impact of the open door ban, was carried out just before the pandemic began, said Peter Huigenbos, the commissioner in charge of the economy, the environment and projects.

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Further consultations would include input on how such an open door ban would affect companies that are already struggling to stay open during the pandemic.

“I totally disagree,” said Meadowbrook-Strathcona District Coun. Jeff McLaren said. “I think it’s really easy. Just do it, it’s easy. “

McLaren said it should come as no surprise that business owners are resistant to policies they believe will affect their operations.

But McLaren said business opposition should not be used to hold back the creation of the statute.

“The public consultation you are conducting here is a step in the wrong direction,” he said.

“I’ll have trouble looking people in the eye about it,” said King’s Town District Counsel. Rob Hutchison said after unsuccessfully proposing to introduce a voluntary program until the statute is properly developed. “The climate crisis has not gone away. It’s been with us since last year. “

“This was one of the council’s earliest motions,” said Williamsville District Coun. Jim Neill added. “For almost the entire duration of this term of office, we have instructions from the council that are not implemented by the employees. That continues to be frustrating. “

Huigenbos agreed that better public education could be done to educate business owners about the cost of opening doors while the air conditioning is on.

“If the council directs employees to tell companies how to compete in the business world, so will we,” said Huigenbos, who stated that the city’s employees are involved with organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and business in the Downtown, representatives from the improvement area and business development work together to assess opinions and educate more businesses about the benefits of closing doors.

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“Perhaps there are better people than me who force companies how they should behave.”

City workers were particularly busy enforcing current temporary regulations to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and a new door statute – even a voluntary program – would keep the city staff, Paige Agnew, the city commissioner for nonprofits Services, ask more, said.

“It’s not a lack of willingness on the part of the staff, it’s a capacity problem,” she said.

Reminding the city council of the unprecedented challenges facing many small businesses, Mayor Bryan Paterson said it may not be the right time for a new door statute.

“This would be the time when we might keep your interest, your livelihood, your front and your center,” he said.

Even staunch environmentalists, including Portsmouth District Coun. Bridget Doherty and Kingscourt-Rideau District Coun. Mary Rita Holland acknowledged that now is not the time to add new regulations to local businesses.

“I want to close doors, but I don’t want to close doors permanently,” said Pittsburgh District Coun. Said Ryan Böhme.

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