February 4, 2016 — Yin and Yang
My name is Karen Pagratis and I report on the Planning Committee meetings of Kingston City Council. ‘Cause planning is where its 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. Currently: Liz Schell (Chair), Jim Neill (Vice-Chair), Richard Allen, Jeff McLaren, Lisa Osanic (who was absent today) Laura Turner.
Meetings are held on the first and third Thursday of the month in Council Chambers commencing at 6:30 pm. and are open to the public to observe and address
Yin and Yang
Another wonderfully brief meeting!
First and foremost the Rideau Heights Regeneration Strategy required some zoning by-law amendments and minor “Official Plan” amendments. These were passed with virtually no discussion and unanimous approval.
(The regeneration of Rideau Heights is universally anticipated with optimism. Initialized by the previous City Council, it is seen as a positive, progressive plan to re-shape a north end area that has traditionally been under-serviced and a community with more than its share of challenges. Many of the old, run-down buildings of the 1960’s are being replaced by more modern and size appropriate housing in demand today. As well, there will be a brand new community centre with a public library in the middle of it all. This is a win-win that the City, with Kingston and Frontenac Housing Corporation, has championed and its eventual completion is widely seen as a very good use of taxpayer’s money. (Something to be proud of and look forward to.)
Now to the less laudable, 720 Princess St. yet again. This is the developer who went to the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board), and won. Thus everything that has followed in the planning process has been a series of compromises between developer and city council, with the staff very much stuck in the middle. Indeed one has the impression that many of the staff would have liked to start afresh, from the ground up, so to speak. But hey, we live in the real world which means we deal in the realm of the possible and practical, especially since the OMB ruled out the opportunity of the ideal. Therefore we have a building that has more units and bedrooms than originally acceptable according to the Official Plan, offering not enough parking, with an unattractive site line from the street because of course it will be right up against the sidewalk, like its sister building across the street, courtesy of the same developer. Although a few Councillors asked a few questions, they basically accepted what the staff said, that they (the staff) had worked very long and hard with the Applicant to achieve some sort of compliance with the Official Plan. And it passed.
The next Planning Committee Meeting is called for Feb.18th and it promises to be a humdinger! I understand construction plans for the North Block will be raised. I’ll keep you posted, but don’t expect these meetings and reports to continue being brief, we’re going to be in for some lengthy talks.