Council approves $3.7 million in funding for downtown Kingston parking garage restoration

Councillor Don Amos asked a number of questions of City of Kingston staff pertaining to the Hanson Memorial Parking Garage restoration project, pointing out that parking in the downtown core is always in high demand. Screen captured image.

In order to prevent delays and ensure the project can commence in 2024, Kingston City Council has approved a $3.7 million budget request for the Hanson Memorial Parking garage restoration project.

The proposal came before Council at its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023, by way of a request for advance budget approval, as the 2024 budget deliberations have yet to begin. As previously reported by Kingstonist, a report from Curtis Smith, Director of Licensing and Enforcement for the City of Kingston, detailed that “the request is being made in advance to ensure the project is not delayed and can commence in the first quarter of 2024.”

The full report is available on the City of Kingston website.

The well-used, five-level parking garage requires a “routine structural maintenance and waterproofing renewal project.” According to the report, the last time such work took place at the garage was in 2016. In 2021, the City hired consultants to complete an assessment of the structure and to develop a 30-year expenditure plan for the facility. That report recommended a “large-scale rehabilitation project” be undertaken in 2022 and repeated on a seven-year cycle.

Adding to that sense of urgency to see the project get underway is the fact that crumbling concrete within the facility ended up costing the City when it fell and caused damage to a vehicle parked in the lot. That incident, mentioned in the report to Council, was something Kingscourt-Rideau Councillor Brandon Tozzo wanted to know more about.

Tozzo said, “I follow local politics and local news pretty closely. When did this incident occur that was in the report — that [concrete] fell on someone’s car and it was damaged?”

Director Smith responded that he believed the incident occurred in July or August of this year, noting “it was relatively minor damage, some paint scratches and a little bit of a dent issue. We dealt with it very quickly.”

As first covered by Kingstonist, the incident occurred in late June 2023.

Tozzo asked how much the City paid for the damage that occurred, to which Smith responded that the City was on the tab for “approximately $2,000.”

But it was Councillor Don Amos who had the most questions regarding the project and the advance approval of the funding for it.

Amos first asked whether the parking structure currently poses any safety concerns. Smith responded that staff have “ameliorated a number of” those and noted that the City brought in a contractor to address the immediate concerns of the falling concrete issue. “But this project does need to go ahead to fix the longer term things,” Smith emphasized.

Amos then asked whether the renovation of the facility would mean the closure of the parking garage for a full year. Smith responded there will be a “phased shutdown,” similar to what is happening at the Chown Memorial Parking Garage, which is currently undergoing its own renovation project.

“So we’ll… try to work it to maximize the availability of parking and safety and the entire deal, just so that we can… keep it open to some degree,” said Smith.

“That was my biggest concern,” Amos said. “One, is the facility safe; and two, we’re losing a number of parking spots… It’s in the high mid-hundreds. And if we’re talking over the summer months, we’re now putting even more pressure on our downtown core, which would affect our businesses. I know that the contract or the RFP [request for proposals] that is going out is a weighted scale, and the expectations are that the project will start at the beginning of the year and hopefully end all in… 2024.”

Amos continued, “If the contractor is not able to meet those obligations, are there any legal ramifications that we can draw upon to help with this?”

Smith replied, “That is something that we could consider with… our legal department to confirm that. Things always happen, and there generally are provisions made for extensions and whatnot — so we can definitely have a look at that. That is a standard procedure for us to do.”

Amos concluded by saying he was “pounding away” at this subject “because this is a sensitive area. For parking, the downtown core is hurting quite badly in parking. I’ve heard it a number of times from my district… residents. So, the quicker that project can happen and the sooner it can be done, the better for everybody, especially during our tourism season. Thank you.”

Hanson Memorial Parking Garage on Brock Street just above Wellington Street. Photo via Google Maps.

Sydenham District Councillor Conny Glenn was the only other councillor to speak to the Hanson Memorial Parking Garage item. She said she has had a couple of residents ask her if the City is “simply repairing” the facility, or if it is “considering any improvements to the actual structure, including potential green elements” such as solar panels on the roof or “various other things.” Glenn asked if there are any criteria in the RFP for the project to consider such things and, if so, would the City be eligible for any grant funding.

Smith responded that staff had not specifically included such things in the RFP for this particular project, but noted that environmentally-considerate building and renovating was one of the strategic goals put forward by Council.

“I think that’s a bigger issue that we’re going to have to explore with a number of departments, with our climate change [department], with our facilities people,” Smith stated.

“I won’t say no, but definitely in this particular project, no, that’s not being considered at this point.”

Glenn thanked Smith, saying, “It’s good to hear that we’ll be looking at consideration for that and future product projects as we renovate and maintain structures.”

With that, Mayor Bryan Paterson called the vote on the matter. Council voted unanimously in favour of approving the recommendation, which will lead to the RFP for the Hanson Memorial Parking Garage restoration project being issued as soon as possible, with the goal of work beginning in the first quarter of next year.

As always, the full agenda for the last meeting of City Council can be viewed on the City of Kingston website, and the full meeting can be watched on the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.

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