Letter in response to opinion piece on Kingston’s Davis Tannery redevelopment

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.

Photo of the former Davis Tannery site along the Cataraqui River. Photo via the City of Kingston’s Davis Tannery Report.

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.


Annabel Mills
Kingston Resident
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].

6 thoughts on “Letter in response to opinion piece on Kingston’s Davis Tannery redevelopment

  • I agree with Ms. Mills. Around forty years ago Richard Dudar was developing the land stretching out into Elevator Bay from King Street West near Invista. The thirty-eight townhouses were built, but things happen, and the huge apartment complex planned beyond, out on the pier, never was. However, various permissions were given by governments during the decades and, in spite of the fact that due to other “things”, including climate change, permission would not likely be given today to what is planned, the project will likely go ahead. We know about climate change now. We have seen its effects. We know that wildland trees can help mitigate, and perhaps save some species, including us. In general, and basically always, the closer a developer can build to water, the better the profit for its efforts. Affordable housing is not part of this picture. I can recall the debate over acquiring the lands at Lemoine’s Point. Suppose that land had been turned into suburbia. What a loss to our City! It is more than money that makes a city.

  • I am in complete agreement. Once again our mayor and council appear to be too friendly with developers giving a green light where due consideration should be given to the environment and the need of Kingston tax payers. Thank you Annabel Mills and the editor of Kingstonist.

  • I couldn’t agree more Annabel. Let’s hope that our city councilors fight to ensure affordable housing is built such that it does not compromise biodiversity and further heat up the city. With elections coming up this fall, we will be watching to see which councilors support meaningful action to address climate warming.

    • I would like to modify my comment, as follows – is that still possible?

      While I support densification in the city, I agree that this should be for affordable, or at least mixed retail, affordable and market value, units and only while maintaining much needed green space. I do not know enough to weigh in on the Tannery site per se, but do hope that our councilors will act to support meaningful action to address climate warming as they choose sites to build much needed affordable housing, With elections coming this fall, many will be watching.

    • After all the evidence regarding how important mature trees are to mitigate and help prevent climate chaos I cannot believe that the plan to clear cut the Tannery lands is still being seriously considered. Nor is the necessity for affordable housing being built into the proposal. It is unforgivable. I will certainly vote for the Councillor running in my District who most closely supports my views which I strongly believe are the views of the many rather than the few. Thank you, Margaret Hughes

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