Kingston City Council held meeting number 28-2019 (Agenda) on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. The meeting was shorter than most in recent memory, though council did re-approve the Kingston East Community Centre, purchased its first electric buses, and discussed options regarding a development on the former Davis Tannery lands, as well as new options for transit.
The meeting opened with a delegation regarding a heritage file about a wall behind a home in the downtown area. Two additional delegations were added to speak to the information report on the development being worked on for the former Davis Tannery lands, notably regarding the turtle habitat and the potential land pollution. Following this, a briefing from Paige Agnew, Director of Planning, Building & Licensing and a the architecture firm who is working on the tannery lands project.
Council spent considerable time discussing the heritage wall. This deferred item from Heritage Kingston was seeking an easement to allow for a partial demolition of the wall, while preserving other sections. Council was brought in to make the decision as the committee had voted down the concept. After much discussion, council overturned Heritage Kingston’s ‘no’ decision, and enabled the easement requested.
Council also spent time discussing the potential changes to the Kingston East Community Centre and a revised proposal for the project. The centre was initially approved as part of the 2018 budget for $11.55 million, but during the design process, decisions were made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, notable especially in light of the the climate emergency declaration. The new design would also enable the city to use the facility as an emergency operations centre if required. While the new design would enable new features and reduce operating costs, the new budget ask was $13.5 million. Following much discussion on the importance of having a community centre on the eastern side of the river, as well as the costs and benefits of the revised design, council unanimously approved the new funding request.
Council did spend some time discussing the information report on the proposed development on the former Davis Tannery lands, notably surrounding the revised concept and the ‘complete community’ plan, which would see commercial use on the ground level of the new buildings, including a small format grocery store. Staff committed to looking into the offered research on turtle use of the shore and reaffirmed that an additional public meeting on the site will be held in the months ahead. A report about how the brownfield policy will be used for the project, what community benefits are being proposed, and what the new tree composition would be is forthcoming, as well. This was an information report and did not require a council vote.
Council also discussed a new motion asking staff to research an east-west and a north-south option for transit priority lanes. Considerable discussion was held around the definition of “transitway” and what it means, both to transit staff and as defined in the 2019-2022 strategic plan, though some councillors also asked if this motions was being used to prioritize some sections of the strategic plan or to micromanage staff. Transit is currently looking at ways to improve service and build transit-priority options at the Ontario Street at Queen Street area, as well as at Princess Street at Bayridge Drive. This motion was deferred to allow for additional discussion between staff and council ahead of a vote in mid-December.
In addition to the above, council approved the renaming of Nickle Avenue to Curtis Crescent so that road would have a consistent name from end to end, endorsed the workplace inclusion charter, purchased its first two electric buses as well as six cargo vans, granted a parking agreement to Rideau Public School, and received updates on housing priorities, capital projects, school crossings and municipal debt. Council also made the decision to take the proposal for the new Queen’s Residence development to planning committee for approval (rather than having it be a staff approval) and selected councillors for committees for the upcoming year.
There is a meeting of Heritage Kingston, as well as an open house and Planning Committee meeting on the ‘Density by Design’ paper this week before council moves into budget week next week to review and approve the 2020 municipal capital and operating budgets, and set the tax rate for the coming year. The next regular meeting of council is Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.
Born and raised in Kingston, Tommy Vallier bleeds limestone. An avid council watcher since 2004, he first began reporting on municipal affairs in 2011, helping to modernize meetings and make them more accessible through social media and live video. When he isn’t focused on City Hall, he’s an avid gamer, theatre supporter, and Disney fan.