Tour of St. George’s Cathedral

At 2pm on March 8, 2018, Peter Gower will be providing a tour of St. George’s Cathedral in Kingston. The first Anglican Diocese in Ontario, this tour will provide unique insight into this historic building.

Capitol Development Proposal – a 16 storey tower at 223 Princess Street

It has been confirmed that the entire OMB hearing will be held in Council Chambers. The OMB has set aside ten days with the hearing starting on March 26 at 11 a.m. At that time, the Board Chair will also set the specific hours for each day of the hearing.

The Frontenac Heritage Foundation is one of four appellants who are working hard to get prepared. Experts have finalized their witness statements, and participants have submitted their statements as well.

This appeal makes a statement that the Foundation and other concerned citizens and bodies oppose development that is insensitive to the unique heritage fabric in our city core. The FHF is not against development, just the wrong form of development.

Fundraising continues, and donations will garner a tax receipt.

Homestead Proposal – 2 High-rise Towers – 17 & 19 storeys at – 51-57 Queen, 18 Queen, 282 Ontario Streets

You may remember that last year Homestead appealed a number of their development applications to the OMB because the City had not dealt with them within the prescribed time frame under the Planning Act.

Three parties oppose the Homestead proposal on the North Block as submitted – the FHF, Building Kingston’s Future (led by Vicki Schmolka) and the LCBO, an adjacent landowner.

Early in the new year, the FHF sent a summary of the relevant Official Plan policies to city staff, asking to meet to discuss the matter (without prejudice). Staff refused, saying that the matter was before the OMB. We wanted to remind the city that the Official Plan calls for development which is human scale, about 8 storeys in height, not high-rises.

The OMB has convened two pre-hearing conferences – November 22/17 and February 2, 2018 designed to understand the issues. An issues list is now complete, and the OMB has set a hearing date for February 4, 2019.

At the February 2nd pre-hearing, the City’s legal counsel stated that the City is now opposing the Homestead proposal.  This means, as things stand currently, the City and the local appellants are on the same side opposing the current Homestead proposal.

Since the visit to Kingston by Brett Toderian, word on the street is that people are okay with ‘density done well’. What is that? Who knows at this point? If Brett Toderian has been hired by the City to do a review of the Homestead proposal, as rumoured, then we look forward to seeing his vision of ‘density done well’.

Capitol Development Recap

Planning Committee held the first public meeting on July 2, 2015 on a rezoning application submitted by IN8 Developments for a 21 storey apartment building with a rooftop restaurant. Twelve people spoke – 9 against with only 3 in favour. The amendment also proposed to incorporate the site as part of the brownfields Community Improvement Plan.

To assist with the review of the IN8 application, the City hired an independent consultant, named E.R.A. Architects Inc., to do a peer review of the urban design and the heritage impact studies – ERA concluded there was not sufficient rationale for a tall building in the proposed location.

Almost a year later, on June 16, 2016, Planning Committee held a second public meeting for a revised application for a 17 storey building with no rooftop restaurant. 26 people/groups objected while 6 people spoke in favour. The public notice gave no indication that community benefits were being considered.

E.R.A. was hired a second time to peer review the revised application. E.R.A concluded that “the proposed 17 storey development creates a massing that is not consistent with its context…the city (should) consider alternative height and massing options to create a more appropriate development form that is compatible with the immediate heritage and built form context.”

Three months later, on September 1, 2016 a comprehensive report was finalized by City staff recommending a 16 storey building to the City’s Planning Committee. The citizens of Kingston were not consulted on this further revision.

At Planning Committee, the vote was tied, with 3 Councillors in favour and 3 against, which constitutes a ‘No’ recommendation from Planning Committee to Council.

On September 20th notwithstanding a “No” recommendation from its Planning Committee, the council voted 7-6 to approve the 16 storey application. Mayor Paterson, Councillors Allen, Boehme, Candon, George, Schell, and Turner all voted in favour. Councillors Stroud, Holland, Hutchison, McLaren, Neill and Osanic voted against the proposal.

Based on this decision, the City staff issued its notice of decision as required and the Frontenac Heritage Foundation and 3 other individuals appealed the council decision to the OMB.

At the same time, pursuant to provincial legislation, citizens of the City requested an Integrity Commissioner to investigate the perceived conflict of interest in the vote of Councillor Candon, who acts a real estate agent.

In October, in a unanimous vote of Council, an Integrity Commissioner was hired. After an extensive review process, the Integrity Commissioner ruled that Council Candon breached the City’s Code of Conduct and recommended a re-vote.

On November 15, 2016 Council reconsidered its vote, and the application lost on a tie vote (6-6).

So what is before the OMB? The rezoning application for 16 storeys at a density of 836 units per hectare is before the OMB. The OMB hearing starts later this month on March 26 (26 – 29, Apr 3 – 6 and 10 – 11)

The four appellants have retained four expert witnesses at considerable expense – a land use planner, a heritage planner, an urban design expert, and an architect. IN8 will have a similar line-up. The city planner will be attending under subpoena.

This summary is intended to remind everyone of what happened on this development application. It has been a long, messy process. You are encouraged to come out to Council Chambers and watch the proceedings on March 26th.