Kingston City Council has approved a plan that will see the City of Kingston purchase $152,000 worth of land from Transport Canada. The land in question is located within a parking lot across the street from Kingston General Hospital (KGH) on King Street West and is currently being leased to Queen’s University for parking at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC).
According to a staff report distributed in advance of the Tuesday, Jul. 11, 2023 council meeting, the land currently owned by Transport Canada includes a small portion of the City’s waterfront pathway. With Council giving the green light for staff to carry out the purchase of the lands, the City will enter into a lease agreement with Queen’s, allowing the university to continue to use the now municipally-owned parking spaces for the next two years.
As for why the municipality has elected to lease the land back to the university instead of operating the parking lot itself, a representative from the City of Kingston’s real estate department confirmed to Kingstonist that the parcel of land is quite small and is surrounded by parking space already owned by Queen’s. “It’s only a very small portion of the actual parking lot… The [space] owned by Transport Canada is basically landlocked, so its value is in [its] contribution to the adjoining lots,” he said. “We wouldn’t operate it as a municipal lot; I think it’s only seven actual parking spots.”
The representative added that the property will likely be part of a future land swap between the City and Queen’s, which would see the municipality sell the parking space to the university in exchange for land along the waterfront pathway. “The reason this piece of land is of interest to us is because a very small portion of our waterfront trail is on that [piece of land owned by Transport Canada]. We will potentially need some more space when we [develop] a better design for our waterfront trail.”
The representative also noted the two-year lease agreement with Queen’s is an effort in “good faith” on the City’s behalf, as the two parties work towards a formal land transfer agreement in the future. “It’s just good faith to work with Queen’s for two years, to try to make sure that we can negotiate and get all the surveys [and] approvals and things done,” he said. As for the terms of the City’s lease with Queen’s, the university will continue to pay “below market value,” according to the staff report.
With Council having approved the purchase of the Transport Canada lands, the City will cover the costs of the acquisition through the Parking Reserve Fund. As for the $152,000 price tag, the staff report confirmed the amount came from a professional appraisal obtained by Transport Canada. “Staff reviewed the report and can accept the approach and value provided. The appraisal came back at a value of $152,000 based on the highest and best use as [the site is] continued to be used as a parking lot.”
Once the land has officially been transferred to the City of Kingston, the municipality will enter into formal negotiations with Queen’s regarding a land swap, according to those with the City.
According to the City of Kingston, Transport Canada — and the federal government in general — own many parcels of land scatterred throughout the city. This is true of a majority of municipalities in Ontario and across the country. This is also true of the provincial government, which also owns parcels of land throughout many Ontario municipalities, and for a variety of reasons. This specific parcel of property is believed to have been owned by Transport Canada for well over 20+ years due to its proximity to the KGH helipad and the waterfront.
Members of the public can view the full agenda from the meeting on the City of Kingston’s City Council meetings webpage, and the meeting can be viewed in full on the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.
Editorial note: This article has been updated from its original version to include information from the City of Kingston as to why Transport Canada owned the parcel of land in question. It was updated on Friday, Jul. 14, 2023.