Planning staff with the City of Kingston have shared today that they are working towards a paper outlining proposed changes to the Official Plan regarding buildings four stories or taller over the coming months and are seeking public input.
The project, entitled ‘Density by Design’ was started by authorization of Council in March, 2019 and is focusing around including an increase in density, notably around commercial hubs and in areas where transit and other active transportation is already successful.
“This is going to result in new official plan and zoning by-law policies” said Paige Agnew, director of planning, building & licensing services for the City of Kingston. “We’re actually going a step further and not stopping at the guideline level [with this project] but are going to be creating implemented policies with respect to this report.”
The revised plan is seeking to adopt what they call “forward-looking approaches” including an increase in constructions with wood frames using mass timber as well as making it faster or easier to enable development in areas identified as needing density increases while simultaneously making it more difficult to develop density in properties that aren’t included in these areas.
A map of which areas the city hopes to ease development in is forthcoming with the report ahead of the planning meeting and expected to be released to the public on November 15, 2019.
Agnew wouldn’t clarify where the division lines are during a media briefing but cited an example of land near the corner of Sir John A. Macdonald Bvld and Princess Streets as an example of a location where density could be increased, given its proximity to express transit service and commercial activity.
Brent Toderian, a city planning and urban design consultant and the former director of planning for Vancouver, has been assisting the city on the project. Toderian was first retained by the city nearly two years ago and has been working with the city on various projects, including land use planning, density and transportation, since.
“It’s important for the public to understand that this work is a very big deal for the future of the city. There are very few examples of work that the planning department will do that will have as big of an effect on how the city works and is experienced” said Toderian, adding that Kingston is the first Canadian city to take a serious approach to land planning as it ties to climate change.
This work, deemed critical by planning staff, which is happening following the city proclaiming a climate emergency is “what is needed”, Agnew said, for the city to advance its commitment on climate change and meet council’s strategic priorities on housing units and carbon footprints.
The city just revised its official plan in August 2017 and is scheduled for its next review to begin in 2022. These changes, if approved, would likely be implemented in advance of the review.
Members of the public are encouraged to actively participate in this discussion and help shape the direction before it moves to a policy recommendation in the new year. An open house is planned for Nov. 21 at City Hall at 3:00pm ahead of the Planning Committee meeting at 6:30pm that evening. The city’s ‘Get Involved’ portal also has a section for residents to offer comments through December 31.