Following a year like no other, I am pleased to present our utility's results for 2020.
Of course, I am referencing the coronavirus that led to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020, and a pandemic that March.
This international crisis affected our year like nothing else has. In just a few months’ time, COVID-19 necessitated tremendous change in the way companies in all sectors and regions do business, and Utilities Kingston was no exception. I am extremely proud of the way our employees adapted through various challenges, to ensure our community can continue to rely on the multiple core utility services we provide.
Early in the pandemic, we proclaimed an updated, temporary corporate mission to guide us. Chiefly, to ensure employee and community health and safety, and the continuity of basic utility services. The updated, temporary mission is to protect the health and safety of employees and the public, while ensuring the delivery of basic utility services that the community relies on.
Utilities Kingston’s strength lies in our highly skilled cross-functional team. Our employees have a diverse set of skills, knowledge, and talents and enjoy a high level of collaboration between groups. Together, they take pride in supporting a large network of infrastructure in water, wastewater, natural gas, electricity, broadband networking, streetlights and traffic signals, and they also provide a water heater rental business.
Whether it’s to restore wind and flood damage, ensure public safety, support the community, improve operating efficiency, or take climate action, the community counts on our employees to deliver safely and reliably, every day, and come what may. Thank you to everyone at Utilities Kingston for your perseverance during these challenging times. Our community relies on you.
Unfortunately, the economic downturn has had a disproportionate impact on some segments of the population. This, coupled with more people working and using increased utilities from home, is impacting utility customers across the province. From offering flexible payment plans to supporting government programs and changes, our team worked hard to offer pandemic relief and work with our customers who were most impacted.
COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the criticality of internet access. Whether to stay in touch with family and friends, access public services like health care and education, or run a business and work from anywhere, everyone relies on high-speed internet every day. Equitable access to the internet is essential to ensuring the social and economic success of communities across the world, including Kingston.
In 2020, Utilities Kingston, jointly with the City of Kingston, applied to the Improving Connectivity for Ontario program, as well as the Universal Broadband Fund from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, to fund two residential fibre-to-the home internet pilot projects in rural areas.
If successful, these projects could mark our first venture into the residential internet market after 20 years of providing broadband services to public sector, commercial and wholesale customers.
Throughout the challenges of the last year, Utilities Kingston has remained a committed partner to the City of Kingston. Our relationship is pivotal to the success of our unique multi-utility model here in Kingston. One way we partner with the City, is by supporting its goal in being a climate action leader. Early in 2020, the public was invited to review options and provide feedback on the proposed Kingston Biosolids & Biogas Master Plan. This initiative will help us pursue innovative solutions to further reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment, while reducing organics sent to landfill in Kingston.
Perhaps overshadowed, but certainly not forgotten, in 2020, we proudly celebrated 20 years since the incorporation of Utilities Kingston. We’ve been serving Kingston, in one form or another, since 1847, when we were known as the Kingston Gas Light Company.
We have a long-standing history of helping to build our community, and our customers place their trust in us. Thank you to all employees for your contributions, as we continue to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of utility services.
In 2021, the Utilities Kingston Board of Directors will appoint a new President and CEO for the corporation, as I retire. Although I am looking forward to the next chapter, it's bittersweet leaving a great organization I've been with for fourty years and a position I've held for over twenty. I know that our employees will continue to do great things for our community.
I’d also like to thank our Shareholder and Board of Directors for your support in furthering our vision, to advance the unique multi-utility model to benefit our customers and, with the help of our tremendous workforce, build better communities.
J.A. (Jim) Keech
President and Chief Executive Officer