Editorial note: The following is a submitted letter to the editor regarding a recent opinion piece published by The Kingstonist. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Kingstonist.
A recent [opinion piece] by Byron Emmons stated that Kingston has a housing crisis. No one disagrees with this.
The crisis has many causes: the end of federal and provincial social housing programs; the mass purchase of housing by corporations; rising home costs as wages stagnate or fall; the Air BnB phenomenon.
Sadly, there isn’t as much agreement on the solutions. Cutting down 2,000 trees in what has become a vibrant urban forest isn’t one of them. Emmons claims that developer Jay Patry will be building “affordable” units. This is not correct. They will be market rate.
Some of the first units to be built will be high-end condos with a river view. Where is the urgency to cut down trees, including the 220-year-old white oak, for luxury homes?
This huge project, consisting of four buildings, will take 12 years to build after the forest and wildlife are destroyed, 20,000 truckloads of toxic soil are shipped elsewhere, and the land and part of the wetland are paved over. This is not going to solve our immediate need for housing.
Scientists have told us that the majority of the land is healing itself and, with human help through bioremediation, could continue to do so. As Kingston faces rising temperatures due to the climate crisis, maintaining our trees could be lifesaving.
We are advocating building on the empty lands along Montreal Street, for example. They, too, are contaminated, but they haven’t been designated Significant Woodlands in the City’s own Official Plan, as the Tannery has.
The $63 million in tax relief the City is ready to give Patry could be better used there, and on other unforested lands. We CAN have homes and trees if we stop catering to developers and put public interest first.
Member of No Clearcuts Kingston
Share your views! Submit a Letter to the Editor or an Op/Ed article to Kingstonist’s Editor-in-Chief Tori Stafford at [email protected].