A Strategic Look: Priority #1 – Increase Housing Affordability

Photo by Dark Arts Astrophotography.


This is the first of a five-part series looking at the projects the city has listed as part of their 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. Part 2, focusing on roads, transportation and walkability, will be available next week.

Beginning in early January and, through public consultation and a number of additional special meetings, Kingston City Council set out its five strategic priorities through 2022, which they affirmed and approved an implementation plan for at their meeting on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Over the coming weeks, I hope to break down what each of the five priorities are, what projects fall within those priorities and how the city is hoping to accomplish them by 2020.

Today, I’ll be looking at strategic priority #1: Increase Housing Affordability.

  1. The city’s first project is to pursue development of all types of housing city-wide through intensification and land use policies. To complete this, the city has set goals for this year to complete the the North Kings Town secondary plan and the Life Cycle Analysis study. Over by the end of next year, they hope to complete the Central Grown Strategy and complete the work into policies surrounding tall buildings. They also have staff working to complete zoning by-law consolidation (by 2021) which would include parking reduction for projects supporting intensification, and create scopes surround the nodes and corridors throughout the city (by 2022) to help determine locations along key corridors which could benefit from an increased density. The city anticipates that these changes and the zoning framework they feed into will support a minimum of 12,000 residential units in the city over 30 years. There is minimal budget impact to this work, as most studies and projects are already included in the capital works budget or will be over the coming years.
  2. The third project under the affordable housing heading is to implement tools and incentives to accelerate construction following planning approvals. This project is coming as a direct result of feedback from developers who say that getting approvals is too difficult in the city. Staff are looking at options for planning tools that will impose penalties for projects that fail to start construction after receiving their approvals. Staff are also investigating removing the reductions for vacant and excess lands taxes, and looking into what can be done to create a ‘sunset clause’ for site plan approvals and dormant applications. The city is also going to look into incentives to encourage development, such as the ability to allow developers to pay charges over the course of construction and prior to occupancy instead of at permit issuance, a review of city land that could be offered to developers for residential construction, revise the need for which studies and reviews are required at application submission to reduce potential pre-permit time for developers, and to work with Brent Toderian, an urban planner and city planning consultant who the city has been working with for a few years to help promote Kingston as a place to grow with the hopes of attracting external developers. This work, which is primarily research at this stage, won’t cost the city any money to do, as they have the staff resources required, though the reports that follow may show a cost or loss of revenue if changes are implements. Staff is targeting 2020 to have this work completed.

    Street view of 1316 Princess Street captured July 2018. ©2018 Google; used with permission.
  3. Next, the city is looking to promote secondary suites and tiny homes. These projects include the implementation of zoning to facilitate the development of secondary suites with a target of at least 120 secondary units over four years, and the development of a tiny homes pilot project, likely on city land, with the city as a planning partner on the project development. Staff is planning a report to council in 2020 with the cost and land expectations of such a project.
  4. And lastly, the city is has set a priority to advocate for funding and increased investments, keeping pressure on these other levels of government as the city continues to work through its housing shortfall. They have set a target of $9 million dollars for the development of the project at 1316 Princess Street, and have already secured $3.2 million dollars from the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative. No other targets in this area have been set.

The city generally releases regular ‘report cards’ on their progress towards these projects through council updates so that residents can track the progress. They have also recently released a video (embedded below) which explains how the city has defined ‘affordable housing,’ and looking at how that term is used colloquially between different housing situations and at how the city defines the term for its internal use and program creation.


Born and raised in Kingston, Tommy Vallier bleeds limestone. An avid council watcher since 2004, he first began reporting on municipal affairs in 2011, helping to modernize meetings and make them more accessible through social media and live video. When he isn’t focused on City Hall, he’s an avid gamer, theatre supporter, and Disney fan.

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