What if Kingston…

Collins Bay Penitentiary
When you think of landmarks that shape the overall image of Kingston, institutions that stand out range from Fort Henry to City Hall, and even Kingston Penitentiary. Regarding the latter, there are a total of nine federal corrections facilities in and around the city, including: Joyceville, Pittsburgh, Collins Bay, Frontenac, Millhaven and Bath. Collins Bay sticks out amongst all the rest, as I remember driving past it as a young lad, confused that it was Disney’s iconic Magic Kingdom. Rest assured that my parents would often warn me that the folks inside were nothing like Mickey and Goofy.

Surrounding this medium security facility is over 800 acres of farm land, which is maintained by inmates in an effort to give them agricultural experience for future employment upon parole. And that’s where today’s post picks up. According to reports, Corrections Canada has deemed their farm program unprofitable, as few inmates ever pursue jobs in the agricultural sector. Now, in times of record spending and deficits, there is talk that the federal government may sell some of the land around the Collins Bay institution. What if Kingston bought the land for additional industrial, residential and/or green space?

This may turn out to be our newest Block D dilemma, and similarly, it’s sure to have citizens up in arms. On one hand, our industrial and business parks are running out of vacant space, which makes it hard to market Kingston as “open for business.” With additional land, new businesses could be attracted, creating jobs, and tax revenue for the city. Similarly, land could also be used as a massive residential subdivision, which would also widen our tax base. That said, it would also increase the number of people and cars in the city, and that might not be welcomed by everyone. Last but not least, the parcel of land is contained by Bath, Days and Front Road, and also bordered by the Little Cataraqui River and Conservation area, as well as a Duck’s Unlimited designated wetland. Hence, preserving it as a greenspace could make a great deal of sense to many Kingstonians.

Considering the hypothetical sale of the land, my initial preference would be to keep it green. Not too many cities have a massive 800 acre vein of prime parkland running through it, save for New York City, in which case they’ve certainly figured out a way to make it work. Then again, in these harsh economic times, perhaps the smartest thing would be to release a few plots of land for development. Be it industrial or residential, growth would ultimately create jobs and tax revenue. And just to waiver some more, perhaps a balanced approach that incorporates all three is the best way to go. What do you think should happen to the land around Collins Bay…if it was for sale? I have a feeling we’re going to be talking about this more and more in the coming months.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

2 thoughts on “What if Kingston…

  • Leaving it, or at least part of it as green space would be the easiest option. I think at least some of the land over there is zoned as an environmentally protected area because of the Little Cataraqui River being close by.

    One problem with making it a park is that it borders a federal institution, to a majority of the public, that doesn’t make it a great place to take the family for a picnic and let the kids run loose.

  • ya i agree with matt. i’m not sure how popular central park would be if it bordered on a prison…oh wait…

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