On Thursday, Jun. 16, 2022, the City of Kingston’s Planning Committee held a public meeting regarding a proposed subdivision development at the site of Bayview Farms on Bath Road.
Armitage Homes Limited is proposing a residential subdivision project at 4085, 4091, and 4097 Bath Road. “The subdivision is proposed to consist of 33 single-unit dwellings, 138 stacked townhouse units, open space, a stormwater management facility, and private roads. Access is proposed via Station Street,” read the meeting’s agenda.
The property, currently the site of Bayview Farms, has been designated as a protected heritage site. The proposal would seek to retain existing buildings within a 1.23-hectare parcel, to comply with heritage regulations. However, the plan also proposes amendments to the Official Plan to remove a site-specific policy designation from a portion of the lands at the 4085 Bath Road property.
According to a report presented to the committee on Thursday night, the property is currently designated “Residential and Environmental Protection Area (EPA) in the Official Plan.” The lands abut Collins Creek Complex, a provincially significant wetland (PSW), which will be addressed through the City’s technical review.
While the proposed development seeks to amend portions of the City’s Official Plan, the project also addresses some of the goals of the Plan, such as housing affordability, and diverse residential development types.
The public meeting began with a presentation from Latoya Powder, a planning consultant with Armitage Homes Limited, who outlined the specifics of the proposed development. Powder explained, from the developer’s perspective, many of the benefits of the proposed subdivision, including its proximity to transit routes, open space, and other amenities including schools and places of worship. The presentation also provided additional context to the project’s proposed Official Plan and Zoning By-Law amendments.
“The intent of our application is to re-zone 8.5 hectares of land to allow for future residential development, and an official plan amendment to also remove a site-specific policy designation from the portion of the property at 4085 Bath Road,” said Powder. “This would allow for 4085 Bath Road to retain 1.23 hectares, fronting onto Bath [Road]. And it would allow 4097 Bath Road to retain approximately 10 hectares, which would be south of our development and north of the CN Rail [lines].”
The project would see a wide range of housing infrastructure constructed within the proposed subdivision, including zero-lot line single-family homes, regular single-unit houses, and stacked townhouses. “The intent is to try to provide a diverse form of housing types, so this helps with affordability and being able to attain housing,” added Powder.
The development would also include 306 parking spaces and a stormwater management pond, and would include improvements to Station Street, allowing for access to the subdivision.
Powder explained, “The reason we’re requesting these reliefs is because the zoning by-law doesn’t contemplate this form of compact development. So, for example, under permitted uses… we want to add stacked townhomes. Under [the] lot area, the zoning by-law requires 2,500 square feet minimum for townhomes. We’d like that to be 1,000 square feet.”
“When it comes to lot frontage, the by-law requires 50 feet, 70 feet, and 38 feet for a single-family or rural dwelling… We’d like to amend it so that minimums for single dwellings [would] be 37 feet and stacked townhomes could also be 37 feet.”
As for the project’s adherence to existing provincial policies, Powder listed many of the ways the proposal supports existing standards: “It supports efficient development and land use patterns, it supports compact forms of development, [and] it supports density for new housing being close to transit and other public infrastructure.”
Powder then concluded her presentation, arguing that the proposed development is an example of “good land use planning.”
Members of the public were then invited to address the committee, sharing their thoughts and concerns on the proposed development.
Celeste Booth, a Lakeside District resident, addressed the proposal’s impact on existing woodland at the site known as Mile Square Block. According to Booth, the development would remove “738 mature trees” from the property, which would need to be replaced by “945 saplings” on the site, something Booth said is “not even close to replacing the ecological function of a mature woodland.”
Booth suggested that the proposed development should “keep the existing woodland intact, including a surrounding buffer… increase proposed density of the housing units in the non-forested area, and ensure at least 25 per cent is affordable housing.”
David Cupido, representing neighbours near the proposed site, addressed the issue of safety involved with the potential addition of over 300 cars to an already busy Bath Road.
“Has the developer thought about the Bath Road residents as a subdivision? We are… no different than any other subdivision in this area. The only difference is that we have a highway going through our homes,” stated Cupido. “Our neighbours all want to be safe, [but] we don’t feel safe. When you’re adding 300 cars onto a very busy highway, how are those cars going to be controlled?”
Nick Stefano then raised concerns regarding the project’s potential environmental impact. He asked the developer about its overall environmental assessment work and whether Armitage Homes Limited has conducted studies of the groundwater within the area.
Stephen Kelly pointed out that the proposed development is consistent with similar projects in other parts of the city. “I don’t see anything here that’s inconsistent with much of how the city has been developed over the last 20, 30, 40, 50 years or so. In fact, I find it largely consistent with how suburban development has taken place in the former township of Kingston.”
Once members of the public had an opportunity to address the proposal, chair Robert Kiley turned the meeting back over to Powder, who thanked the public for its feedback and responded to some of the concerns.
Regarding the cutting down of mature trees on the property, Powder suggested that there are not enough trees to meet the criteria for significant woodland status. “We did send out our ecologist to go and do some tree coring… The threshold for the number of trees to be ‘significant’ is considered to be 10 or more trees; unfortunately, we didn’t have that.”
“One of the reasons we were able to pick the site specifically, and the area, was [because] we recognize that the majority of the mature trees [are] further south of where we are proposing to do development,” added Powder.
As for the influx of traffic along Bath Road, Powder invited the project’s engineer, Cassel Prince, to dispel some potential misconceptions regarding the amount of congestion the development would generate.
“One of the correlations that most of the individuals have mentioned is… 300 vehicles coming or going to the site… Although there is some correlation between parking [spots] and trips, there isn’t the direct correlation that is being [mentioned],” explained Prince.
Using traffic forecasting models, the engineer argued the number of overall trips would be far less than what residents have suggested. “If you apply typical traffic engineering practices to forecast [what] will be generated, what we see is that the site will in fact generate 77 trips [in the morning], and 98 [afternoon] trips.”
Additional rounds of public feedback then took place, with more members of the community speaking to the project. Jason Harris took issue with the way the proposal is branding itself as an affordable housing development. “A $500,000 house is not affordable, a $300,000 house is not affordable for people looking for housing. Two bedroom units are not houses that people are looking for,” argued Harris.
Vicki Schmolka, a resident of Riverpark, commented that the project is asking for a lot in terms of its amendments to the official plan and zoning by-laws. “I think you’ve heard a lot of people in the public saying that things need to improve in this application.”
Schmolka also raised concerns regarding the project’s plan to direct stormwater into the City’s systems, questioning the impact this may have on the City’s existing stormwater management.
The meeting was then turned over to the Planning Committee, who shared their thoughts on the project and questioned City staff and representatives from the developer.
Collins-Bayridge Councillor Lisa Osanic was the first to address the committee, as her district includes the site of the proposed development. She first asked about the subdivision’s proximity to existing CN Rail infrastructure: “This subdivision is right along the train tracks… Where the [eastbound train] is currently blowing its whistle… is to the west side of the current communications tower… It’s going to be very loud.
“The whistle is going to be blowing right in the middle of the subdivision, and this proposal is for cutting down 550 trees… and trees provide [a] great buffer to the noise. So, there’s a concern with putting so many homes right along the railway tracks.”
Powder responded to Osanic’s comments: “CN Rail requires that any new subdivision adjacent to their rail [be] set back 30 meters. So, there’s no buildings that will be within 30 meters of the rail line… A 2.5-meter berm [will be constructed], so, that it helps with the noise [levels], and also we’re considering adding a fence onto of the berm to help provide additional mitigation.”
Powder also confirmed that the subdivision and purchase agreement documents would be amended to include information about the rail lines and train whistles, “so that the residents are aware of what they’re buying into.”
Loyalist-Cataraqui Councillor Simon Chapelle addressed some of the concerns regarding the presence of salmon in nearby bodies of water. “There are rivers and tributaries all along the shoreline… There [have] been [salmon] populations rebuilt because of excessive developments, and shoreline degradation, which is why they do release salmon into the river, to try and recover the damages that were done in the past.”
Chapelle also asked about the specific location of the environmental protection zone at the site and its impact on significant woodland. “When this proposal comes back, I would like to see some very specific lineage of where the conservation authority has said that this significant woodland is being impacted,” requested the councillor.
Rob Hutchison, Councillor for King’s Town, pointed out some inconsistencies in the various plans regarding the project’s placement of additional trees. He also echoed Chapelle’s concerns, urging the applicant to consider the project’s impact on local salmon populations.
“I would ask staff to be very careful about this because we’re talking about a salmon fishery that [has been] environmentally devastated… So, I really think you should look at that… It doesn’t seem that the observations of the nearby neighbours line up with [the applicant’s] study,” suggested Hutchison.
Several participants in the meeting also expressed concerns regarding the lack of a report from the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority, as Councillor Jim Neil asked staff to ensure that such documents be made available to the public before the comprehensive report is put forward.
Thursday’s meeting was meant to allow the City’s Planning Committee to collect information on the proposed development while permitting members of the public to share their thoughts and concerns. An official comprehensive report is the next stage for the application.