Council Support for 16-Storey Downtown Tower Saddens Citizens’ Group

Vision for Kingston and its hundreds of supporters are disappointed and very concerned about City Council’s vote in favour of the 16-storey high-rise project above the former Empire Theatre on Princess Street in downtown Kingston.

The 7 to 6 vote shows a divided Council with those councillors voting against the planning application citing its height of 16 storeys, as being too tall and out of character with the surrounding buildings, and not consistent with the city’s Official Plan and zoning bylaws. They also spoke to the outpouring of community opposition to the planning application and the need to recognize that the community supports the heritage character of downtown and its human scale, which is good planning.

“Official Plans exist for a reason, ” said Sammi King of Vision for Kingston. “We are considering a challenge to this decision which ignores the Official Plan and undermines the zoning bylaws. The intrusive high-rise will greatly compromise Kingston’s historic downtown.”

King noted that two peer reviews by a respected, unbiased land-development and heritage consulting company confirm Vision for Kingston’s argument that the project runs counter to the heritage character of the neighbouring buildings and city’s development rules for the area.

King says it was shocking to hear the Mayor say that if the building were on Princess Street he would have voted against it but supported it because it is proposed for Queen Street. “Queen Street is as much a part of downtown as Princess Street and Brock Street,” notes King. “This building will set a precedent that will affect the whole downtown area.”

King also pointed out that “intensification” and having more residents downtown can be achieved by low- and mid-rise buildings in the many vacant lots located in or near the downtown without destroying the character and human-scale of the city’s downtown.

“Vision for Kingston is grateful to Councillors Holland, Hutchison, McLaren, Neill, Osanic, and Stroud who voted against the planning application, looking out for the best interests of everyone in Kingston,” concluded King.

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