A Win For Williamsville
The democratic landscape in Kingston has changed in the last decade, and more so than amalgamation and various councils coming in and out of office. One of the biggest changes has been the rise of the neighbourhood association, advocacy groups that work on behalf of the community to make Kingston a better place, one block at a time.
One block of Frontenac Street was what created a neighbourhood association in Williamsville. One development on one block led to one big planning battle that ended this week with the city and the neighbourhood coming out on top.
After about five months of waiting, the residents of Williamsville got the answer they wanted from the Ontario Municipal Board. A proposed development on Frontenac Street, just north of Princess Street, won’t go ahead as-is. The development would have merged seven properties in order to build a four-and-a-half storey, 58-unit complex made up of two- to five-bedroom apartment units. The plan was to rent the units to upper-year university students and young professionals. The city’s planning department reviewed the application and decided that it did “not represent good land use planning as it (was) not compatible with the surrounding neighbourhood.”
The OMB agreed.
The board dismissed the appeal from developer Patry Enterprises Inc. and ruled that while “certain elements of the proposal (are) desirable and appropriate,” the development was “not reasonable, not appropriate, and (did) not represent the principles of good community planning.” In ruling against the developer, the OMB upheld the city’s decision to reject the planned development and the neighbourhood’s wish to see development on the site that would fit the feel of the community. (You can read the full ruling here.)
That sound you hear from the residents around the Memorial Centre is a sigh of relief. They waited a long time to hear their fate and many couldn’t be happier with the result.
“The community does have a voice through the established process. By working together on the basis of common interest and through consensus we can achieve our goals,” says Sue Bazely, one of the founders of the Williamsville neighbourhood association. “In this case, it was all about ensuring fair treatment within the allowable parameters of the planning process.”
Those neighbourhood associations — and you know who you are — have become an important part of the democratic landscape in Kingston. Don’t believe me? Just ask the residents in Williamsville.
4 thoughts on “A Win For Williamsville”
It strikes me that there was a lost opportunity for compromise here.
The developer wanted less at-grade amenity/play space because the building is designed for students (who have access to the university's spaces). Realistically, you don't want a student occupied building with lots of outdoor amenity space anyhow. Just walk down University Ave and you see the perils of giving students lots of at-grade yard space :)
Why not allow the development to include less at-grade space in exchange for the developer paying the cost of maintaining an amount of neighbourhood city park space equivalent to the amenity/play space that was not built on site? That way, they wouldn't have to waste development land on at-grade amenity space… and the neighbourhood (which includes the folks who really DO need this kind of space) would benefit from it.
Doesn't solve the bigger issues of privacy/overlook from the balconies… but it would be one problem solved.
Also: The refusal to alter the number of parking spaces per unit is ridiculous.
The presumption is that students have a car or don't, and that the parking must reflect that. In reality, the number of cars owned by students frequently varies based on the availability and cost of parking! If lot parking is available and inexpensive, students will bring cars; if parking is far away, street parking only, or expensive, students will leave cars at home.
At least, when I was a student at Queen's (now a decade ago), I remember friends having the option to bring a battered old Toyota or something to school with them, and choosing not to… because of the lack of parking.
Parking doesn't just reflect transportation choices, it shapes them. Less parking = more walking, public transit, sharing of cars, biking, etc. Less parking = more use of and demand for local shops and services.
Maybe, the people just didn't want the students in their neighbourhood. That many students should have recreational amenities close by or they will spill on to the neighbours' yards, invade the neighbours' privacy, and just be a nuisance. There are other apartment buildings in the neighbourhood and they were built to code so why would we grant an exception to this one?
I was a resident in this neighborhood until last July 2009. This area has been an eclectic neighborhood for many years, with students, young families, seniors, low income, Ryandale House, and young professionals. It is one of the many aspects that makes this the great place it is. I moved from there for a number of reasons, the biggest one being the possible Patry development. It would be so detrimental to this area if only for the numbers of people that would be living in one building. The students we now have here are for the most part, very amenable and pleasant, but the number of immature students who prposely destroy property, wake us all up at 3-5am with screaming foul language and refuse to let us walk by on either sidewalks or streets when they are "playing",n far outnumbers those who are really fun and are good neighbors.They act as if it is their right to do whatever they wish on any property whether public or private. Patry…. move on…your in the wrong neighborhood.