Yin and Yang

February 4, 2016 — Yin and Yang

Hello All:

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.

 

 

 

The Shorts win again

The Shorts win again

Jason here. The meeting was over at 8.19 clearly there is a feeling on Council that everything does not need to be challenged. Mind you, there were no presentations, delegations or briefings and there were no recommendations from the CAO- those are always controversial! (they are matters of policy which should be decided by Council). On the minds of everyone on Council was the Special Meeting of Council on February 3rd & 23rd and the format of same. It will be unstructured and the public will have the floor if they want it! The meeting tomorrow at 6 o’clock will be about the end of funding by the Feds. This was expected and the city has to make allowance for it, Lanie Hurdle, Commissioner, Community Services will introduce the Consultants who have been hired to sort out the ramifications of the End of Funding., an issue judged to be too complex for a regular Council meeting .although the issue will result in controversy, it is not sufficient to warrant a Special Meeting of Council and could have been folded into the previous night’s meeting which ended at 8.19 a record! Not so, the meeting on the 23rd which will be the meeting on the changes to the Official Plan- mandated by the prov. for a five year review and particularly because of the new concept of ‘Nodes and Corridors’ introduced by the consultants hired to complete the review of the OP.( not SHS consulting!)

This is not the end of the Official Plan update. There will be another public meeting in April the OP will then go to Planning committee and will then will be presented to Council.

Good news from Rideaucrest; all the stats with exception of ‘falls’ meet or exceed the averages set by the Regional in this case, the Southeast LHIN, resulted in the recommendation by staff, was accepted that the existing contracts with Extendicare be renewed for two years when the cost( $342,000 plus tax) will disappear from the operating budget. In Addition plans were made for electric car plug ins along 401 – a move in to the new age? At least a small step to reducing Greenhouse gases. Maybe, if cars use it- anyway, it will not cost anything- for now! And that was it. No questions on how much the administrator from Extendicare was paid. No protest that cell phone towers were a federal responsibility – approval was given to two added carriers-Rogers and Wind Mobile (recently bought by Shaw) to the tower as required to prevent proliferation of towers. The tower is on the Centre 70 site and is owned by Bell Mobility. Is Council doing its job? You judge.

 

 

Up, Up and Away

January 21, 2016 — Up, Up and Away

Hello All:

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. Currently: Liz Schell (Chair), Jim Neill (Vice-Chair), Richard Allen, Jeff McLaren, Lisa Osanic, Laura Turner.

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.

Up, Up and Away

Tonight’s meeting was over in the blink of an eye.

Remember the multi-unit apartment building proposed by our old friend, developer Jay Patry for 630 Princess Street and the discussion of which was deferred from the Dec 3rd Planning Committee meeting? Well we pick up where we left off, but with a little twist, Patry Inc. is trying to sell it. Now this might make one assume that the original developer would no longer care about the additional zoning and site plan amendments that are pending to increase the living space and hence the value, but one would be mistaken. What creates opportunity for more profit for the original developer will of course ultimately create more profit for the next developer and thus make the property value and its price go up. Councillor Neill pointed out that some other developer will gain the advantage of the amendment and staff agreed. It passed despite Councillor Neill’s opposition.

Next up was 1329 -1383 Gardiner’s Road. We’ve seen this one before, a Clermont Investments proposal for a Common Elements Condominium plan to create a huge business park. Councillor Osanic asked if there will be a limit to the number of businesses that can go in. Staff replied that according to the Official Plan no more than 25% of the floor space can be used for business. (Let’s remember that figure for future reference.) It passed unanimously.

Now while this is not strictly Planning Committee information, I do feel somewhat compelled to say a few words on a meeting I attended at LaSalle Secondary School immediately thereafter:

Mayor Paterson was holding a presentation at which we were shown slides of the “new” downtown skyline.  I could say “proposed” new, but the mayor seemed to be speaking of it as a given, a fait accompli.  It appears that we will have at least two new skyscrapers added to our downtown sightline in the very near future: the Capitol Condominium Building on Princess and the Homestead Development right behind the old S&R, north block.

While number of floors wasn’t specifically mentioned, both appeared to be exceedingly tall in the artist’s rendition.

The Mayor went on to say (and I paraphrase here) that while there are 100 or so people who are very articulate and who hold a different vision of downtown which they have frequently made known, the City needs to hear from the other 133,000 residents, and is reaching out to do so.

 

It makes one wonder who the articulate 100 are?

The Big Short

Jason here. It was a very short meeting. 8.48 yes, that is right – 8, not 9 or10. We began with a feel- good presentation by jimmy Hassan who in deeply- accented English said that it was a big deal for him to speak before Council. He was following up on his suggestion that Council endorse having apprentices from high schools. They did. This has the potential of relieving Councillors of the heavy burden they carry. I hope that they are organized enough to take advantage of it. Hassan was after a not-very enthusiastic appeal by Doug Richie, the CEO of the BIA appealing to Council to pass the BIA as a ‘tourist district’.

The meeting had two focuses. One on the declaring the BIA a tourist area, to allow retail establishments to open , if they want to, on Good Friday, Christmas day and New Year’s Day.. There will be a public meeting on the possible opening- and that was passed. When it finally comes back to Council, expect a motion to include the entire city. The second focus was on Councillor McLaren’s very lengthy proposal re climate change. This (climate change) and what the city can do to help was sent to KEAF, which is interesting as the City employs Paul McLatchie as director of Conservation and Sustainability. This motion was not sent to him. Obviously Councillors expect McLatchie and KEAF to work together as they will. I wonder if KEAF will just ask for a report from McLatchie or dig in and do the research itself. This (KEAF) one of the committees that the CAO wished Council would disband as staffing has made it redundant. The mayor stepped in (although he should have made his opposition to whom to send the motion to as an amendment to the original motion) It passed anyway- . The first part on Climate Change and the second part (to whom to send the motion) was not passed. I don’t know enough of the protocol on New Motions to make a judgement but I expect this to be on the agenda at the next Council meeting.

 

Richards Wins

Aside from the inductees into the sports Hall of Fame- and I will admit, I had not heard of any of them, the meeting was just a prelude to the main action, which of course was, the giving of the contract for the preliminary design of the third crossing to Richards, at much more than the second company which answered the RFP? What were we getting for the extra? That is the question that Councillor Candon expressed so eloquently. What followed was a very intelligent debate on how the City plans for the future. Of course the city will have to stand in line for federal or provincial funding. Councillor Hutchison was ruled out of order when he tried to insert the question of ‘do we really need it’ and’ what are the long-term effects’. Sprawl was all Jason heard before he (Hutchison) was cut off. In the end, the vote was seven for the high bid, 5 against. It was clear during the debate that Councillors had not been given enough information on the first go- round they were struggling with the issue. It would be interesting to know what was in the minds of those who voted ‘no’. Was it the cost? Was it sprawl? Was it ‘we don’t need it’? The 3rd crossing has never had a good airing. What is the proper place to debate the Third Crossing and the Wellington Street Extension? Perhaps during debate of the Transportation Master Plan. Council has a habit of letting these large studies go by while paying some attention to the overall, paying little attention to the details. In this case the TMP (transportation Master Plan) was hung up on statistics for future ridership on buses. Is council doing its job? Probably not. The TMP was deferred, so maybe the debate will happen yet. Watch for it, it should be a blockbuster. The deferral does beg the question on why the preliminary design for the bridge went ahead of the TMP. When was the deferral of the TMP to take place? When we are ready for it, and not before! The Transportation Master Plan UPDATE 2015 outlines rules for congestion and road buildings in spite of being deferred is a major piece of work.

The Greening of the Brown

November 19, 2015– The Greening of the Brown

Hello All:

I’m a new voice on this Blog and my name is Karen Pagratis. I’ll be reporting 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. Unlike many other municipal committees it includes no members of the general public. However it’s 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.

The current Planning Committee consists of Councillors: Kevin George (Vice-Chair), Jeff McLaren, Jim Neill, Lisa Osanic, Laura Turner and Liz Schell who is Chair of the group.

The Greening of the Brown

Tonight’s meeting was brief and to the point, in fact two of the councillors weren’t even in attendance. The usual public meeting consisting of by-law amendment requests took place without much to report, except for one possible anomaly. Then we had a succinct update on Brownfield Administration.

The small subdivision (5 houses) at 530 Maple Lawn Dr., (north of the 401, just east of Battersea) by-law amendment requests were passed, after some pertinent questioning, quickly and unanimously as were some minor requests for 809 and 829 Development Drive.

Its interesting to note that although Councillor Richard Allen does not sit on the Planning Committee, he is often to be seen observing the proceedings when issues concerning Countryside District arise, such as this evening with regard to Maple Lawn Dr.  The same cannot be said for some other councillors who seem to be more than happy to allow city staff to deal with any pesky planning questions that may arise in their districts.  For instance the zoning amendment request which passed the most quickly, and completely, without challenge or question, was that of the proposed Shoppers Drug Mart to be erected on a residential corner in the District of Pittsburgh.  Not only was the councillor not in attendance, but this rather large, and presumably important issue was not even been “bumped up” to the Planning Committee for discussion.  Apparently there are no residents of Pittsburgh who have an issue with a large box-style drug/convenience store being located on the corner of Grenadier and Hwy 15.  It’s surprising that not even those on Windfield Cres., the immediate neighbours behind the building, have any questions, not to mention misgivings, concerning traffic, noise, parking or light pollution.  Moreover this location is just across the street from where the new east side Community Centre is to be built, right beside LaSalle Secondary School.   Without Planning Committee review and the forum it provides for residents to state their concerns, this zoning by-law will move right along to City Council for all three readings without a challenge.  Curious.

Kingston’s Brownfield Community Improvement Plan (CIP) has been in effect since 2005 and has recently been amended to include one additional project area, the Williamsville corridor. The principle objective of this program “is to provide tax based incentives for brownfield properties so that a level playing field is created in comparison to greenfield development opportunities”.   In 2014 the City adopted a sliding scale approach in determining the level of financial benefit that any given brownfield project might be entitled to. Thus, properties with profound amounts of contamination would remain eligible for full benefits, while properties with lesser degrees of environmental encumbrance would receive proportionally lesser amounts of municipal benefit.

Paul MacLatchy, Kingston’s Director of Environment & Sustainable Initiatives, reported that Kingston’s Brownfield plan has been a success on a number of scales. Of course formerly vacant or under-utilized land has been redeveloped into industrial/commercial space, residential units and additional waterfront property, but it has also created new full time job equivalents and increased long-term annual property tax revenues of approximately $3 million per year. All at an average rebate cost of approximately $1.35 million per project. (These figures consider the 8 projects which have been approved so far, and the 4 projects pending approval.) In addition the sliding scale approach has been applied to 2 new proposed projects in Williamsville, “to ensure that the level of municipal tax benefit … was consistent with the actual environmental liabilities requiring remediation”. This certainly sounds like a win/win for all concerned, and kudos to the City.

 

Out with the Old, In with the New

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!