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Community Soapbox: A Double Standard?

Wellington Street Extension, Wellington X, Douglas Fluhrer parkOver a year ago, opponents of Kingston’s proposed Wellington Street Extension were informed that the WSE cannot be removed from the Official Plan and other city policy documents without a secondary planning process for North King’s Town. This spring the visioning for that process began, with a launch in May at the Royal Canadian Legion on Montreal Street. In June, a well-attended brainstorming session led by Dialog (the consultants hired by the city) was held at the Portuguese Cultural Centre. With Skeleton Park Arts Festival organizers, city planning staff co-hosted a very successful barbecue and concert in Doug Fluhrer Park. City staff were on hand in McBurney (Skeleton) Park on Saturday June 25 to solicit input from festival attendees on the North King’s Town visioning, and set up an information booth at the Princess Street Promenade on July 30th. More pop-up consultations took place August 4th, and the process is just getting started.

All this is necessary, apparently, because although running an arterial road through a waterfront park is an unpopular plan that is neither consistent with good planning practices nor Kingston’s own policies, nothing can be changed without at least two more years’ work and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent.

In contrast, if a developer wishes to ignore city documents (the Official Plan, its specific policies, the architectural guidelines, zoning bylaws etc.) and propose a high rise development for an area of the city where building height is restricted to preserve the human scale and historic fabric, there are fewer obstacles in the way.

Removing the outdated Wellington St. Extension from the Official Plan and other documents is proving to be an enormous challenge. Residents respect the process, however, and have seized the opportunities to engage with city planners and the consultants. Meanwhile, the owner of the Capitol Theatre property has jettisoned our guiding documents and is poised to stomp on our downtown.

The City actively encourages us citizens to participate in city planning, but fails to demonstrate to us why we should even bother.
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Submitted to Kingstonist’s Community Soapbox by Anne Lougheed.

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6 thoughts on “Community Soapbox: A Double Standard?

  • September 6, 2016 at 1:37 pm
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    Boo Hoo, a new developer wants to bring a much needed high rise into our soon to die if not developed downtown, and a lot of people end up bashing him. Guess what, most of the people who made the official plan either left this world or are on the verge of leaving it, slumlords who rent their over priced "Historic" WW2 forts to students, and people who have way too much time on their hands. Young professionals WANT this to happen. Students WANT this to happen. Businessmen/women WANT this to happen.

    • September 7, 2016 at 7:31 am
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      Downtown Kingston has been underperforming for a long time, so the notion that we need to hastily approve development or else our downtown will die is a ridiculous exaggeration. A lot of the Capitol condo supporters are jumping to the conclusion that development such as this is the only way to save downtown. Aside from the typical argument for modestly sized, smart residential development, why aren't we talking about the root cause of why our downtown is not thriving: sky high rents. If the few landlords who controlled the majority of our downtown cared a little bit less about profits and little bit more about the community, we would have fewer for lease signs and a little bit less to complain about.

      • September 7, 2016 at 12:34 pm
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        Not sure its so simple to say lower rent = fewer lease signs. If available spaces were suddenly much lower rent, they would no doubt quickly be taken. However that does not increase the customer base (we are no where near the point where its so empty people are avoiding it), so that would just spread the existng customers around more. Which would then cause closures until the market found the number the custmers can support.

        Occupancy cost(inclduing taxes and utilities that don't change with rent) for a successful restaurant probably running about 8-10% of sales. Compared to ~70% food and labour. So a cut in your rent doesn't meant that much, but having more competitors then the customers support does. Thats why high price Cat center is always virtually full, while Frontenac Mall has never been close to full since walmart's traffic left.

        Not sure we can say downtown has "underperformed', it would appear to outperform a large majorty of North American downtowns. Also wonder if rents are so high, why would we have people taking prime retail to open dentist and medical offices? Then we have the 700 member BIA, most leasing, who probably know whats best for their own businesses, who almost all (2? publicly against) strongly support the new buildings.

      • September 9, 2016 at 5:24 pm
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        And what makes you think that people do not want high rises downtown? I am personally one of the many (Probably majority of Kingston) who would LOVE to see high rises in our downtown to complement the heritage buildings. Sure, heritage buildings give a very unique and distinct charming look, but that in no way means that there is no room for high rise developments, because they do make people feel that they are living in an actual city. Victoria, Montreal, and plenty of other Canadian cities have beautiful skylines that is a mix of both old and new, and I see no reason why Kingston shouldn't be allowed to do that.

  • September 7, 2016 at 12:01 pm
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    Followed the link with the title thinking this was about the NIMBY group who keeps saying "follow the plan" wrt height, while they campaign agaisnt the decades long plan for the WSE. Or who try and spin what they want as environmental, while they try and stop the city from having development that is much more environmentally sound

  • September 8, 2016 at 10:42 am
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    The WSE has been an integral part of the city's plan for many years. And for many years the taxpayers of the amalgamated districts of Kingston have been footing the bill for the upgrades to the old city's infrastructure. Now that the intensification process to increase the density has begun , the NIMBYs are lobbying to prevent others from enjoying the benefits made possible by the wise use of tax dollars. Any fool can tell you that the old city can not expect to have a free ride forever . In order to pay it's fair share the old city must either increase it's tax rate or increase the number of those paying taxes. This was all thought out and a plan with vision was put in place by former Kingston mayor Gary Bennet many years ago.

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