Kingston City Council approves sale of municipal lands

Following a vote by Kingston City Council, the municipally-owned property at 900 Division Street will be sold in an effort to build new affordable housing units. Photo by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 7, 2023, Kingston City Council approved a plan to sell off two municipally-owned properties as part of the City’s new housing accelerator plan. During Tuesday night’s meeting, Councillors voted to sell 900 Division Street and 33 Compton Street, in the hopes of creating new housing units in the city. 

The site at 900 Division Street is a vacant property, once envisioned as the site of a future north-end fire station for Kingston Fire and Rescue (KFR). However, a staff report presented to councillors ahead of Tuesday’s meeting noted the land is no longer needed for the new fire station. The 1.25-acre property sits at the northwest corner of Division Street and Elliot Street and is designated for residential use in the City’s official plan and zoning by-laws. 

Meanwhile, the property at 33 Compton Street was once the site of the City-owned and operated Oakwood Preschool and Childcare Centre, which closed down in 2013. After the former preschool building was demolished in 2015, the lands have sat vacant ever since, with the staff report noting the property could accommodate a four-storey, 49-unit apartment building, along with eight new townhouses — though, without any explanation as to why this was specified.

The sales will come with some conditions, including a requirement that the property at 900 Division Street be used to construct a minimum of five new affordable housing units. “The target number of affordable units on this property would be a minimum of five units and the requirement to provide these units would be a condition of the sale. These units could be offered in partnership with a not-for-profit organization,” the report said.

Due to the property’s close proximity to other affordable housing developments in the surrounding neighbourhood, staff recommended a limited number of affordable units as a condition of sale. Staff do anticipate the conditions will have an impact on the final sale price of the property, however, it is still expected to generate a profit for the City.

The vacant City-owned land at 33 Compton Street. Photo by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist

While the Division Street property includes a requirement for affordable housing units, the same conditions have not been placed on the sale of 33 Compton Street, with Council opting instead to sell the lands for market housing.

“The utilization of the lands for market housing is to support a primary objective of the Rideau Heights Regeneration Strategy which includes introducing market housing in an area of the neighbourhood that is primarily comprised of social housing,” read the report. “The introduction of new market housing in this area will serve to diversify the housing options available in the neighbourhood and support the increased supply of housing in the city more broadly.”

Similar to the Division Street location, staff anticipate that 33 Compton Street’s close proximity to other social housing developments will impact the final sale price of the property. “However, the primary objective of the site’s disposal is to support housing diversity in this area of the city,” the report added. Any extra revenues generated from either sale will be reinvested in the “acquisition or development” of other affordable housing units.

The sale of both properties is in line with the City’s new interdepartmental housing accelerator team, which aims to “identify City-owned properties that can be deployed for all types of housing development,” among other housing-oriented goals. 

When the item was brought forward during Tuesday night’s Council meeting, it generated very little debate from members. Collins-Bayridge Councillor Lisa Osanic did take the opportunity to ask staff to clarify why they only put a condition of five affordable units on 900 Division Street. “Why not six or seven, why is it five affordable units?” asked the Councillor. 

“This is a site that’s already in an area where, predominantly, there are lower-income affordable housing units in the neighbourhood, so it’s important to really look at a complete community with mixed market housing options,” said Ruth Noordegraaf, the City’s Director of Housing and Social Services. “We also are looking at the feasibility of the project and the interest of the market.”

The motion passed by a unanimous vote from members of Council. The properties will now be listed for sale on the open market through the City of Kingston’s real estate broker. Staff have already completed pre-applications for both properties with the City’s planning services depart, which will provide a development plan for both sites in a manner consistent with the sale conditions.

Residents can view the Tuesday, Mar. 7, 2023, Council meeting in full on the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.

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