December 3, 2015 — Out with the Old, In with the New
My name is Karen Pagratis and I report on the Planning Committee meetings of Kingston City Council. ‘Cause planning is where it’s at, at least in this decade, in this great and growing city of Kingston.
The Planning Committee consists of 6 City Councillors, one of whom acts as Chair. Unlike many other municipal committees it includes no members of the general public. However its meetings are open to the public to observe and address. Meetings are held on the first and third Thursday of the month in Council Chambers commencing at 6:30 pm.
Today was the day for the annual election or re-election of Planning Committee Chair and Vice-Chair. Interestingly, Kevin George (Vice-Chair) was absent and Councillor Richard Allen, representing Countryside and one of the new members of Council, was present. Councillors Liz Schell, Jeff McLaren, Jim Neill, Lisa Osanic, Laura Turner, were all there. Clearly the councillors knew which way they were voting long before they’d assembled because not only were the candidates uncontested, this was one of the fastest elections I’ve ever witnessed. Councillor Schell remains Chair and the seasoned Councillor Neill takes over from Kevin George as Vice-Chair. Councillor George has left the Planning Committee and his seat is taken by Councillor Allen.
This meeting was largely devoted to the ongoing saga of 630 Princess St. owned by Patry Inc. Developments. (If that name sounds familiar, think back to almost exactly two years ago when another Patry Development on Princess St. made headlines.) Dating back to 2010, this proposed apartment building was reviewed in a public meeting through City Council resulting in some by-law restrictions with which the developer was unhappy. Off to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) Patry Inc. went. The result was a negotiated settlement between the City and the developer which was approved during an in-camera session of City Council. The new proposal increases both the number of units and the number of bedrooms available as well as increasing the height of the building. According to Councillor Neill this represents a 47% increase in density and he’s very troubled that many people who were present at the 2010 meeting “would be disenfranchised because they have not seen the new settlement”. Ms. Hurdle, Commissioner, Community Services, calls an end to the discussion because Council has already approved the zoning amendments and the Planning Committee has “no authority to re-open this question”. Apparently zoning issues are now off the table and only Site Plan questions may be raised.
On it goes. Councillor Turner expresses her favourite sentiment with “Let’s show the Builders that we’re open for business and let’s go forward.” Councillor Allen raises concerns about bicycle parking (of which there is not enough). Councillor Neill raises the question of rules regarding the roof patio in regard to parties and noise dispersed throughout the community. (While it can’t be designated, this is clearly going to be student housing given its location.) Ultimately Councillor Neill moves to defer approval until January, thereby giving the public more of a chance to become informed and involved. Although Councillor Turner worries that this may delay construction, the amendment passes 3 to 2. At least we know one Planning Committee item that will be scheduled for the New Year.
That’s it for 2015. The next meeting will take place Thursday, January 7th, 2016. In the meantime we at Kingston Electors wish all the residents of Kingston and beyond, a happy holiday!