Tag Archives: Brownfields

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.

 

Step by Step…?

Step by Step…?

Council came one step closer to buying the Dry Dock and the Marine Museum last night when they went towards creating a’ project’ zone. Next a brownfield designation which allows a potential developer relief from taxes for three years. The mayor was quite emphatic that the city must do everything in its power to assist the Marine Museum. Sounds as though Mr. West has got to our mayor! I wonder if purchase of the Marine Museum is in the City’s future? That – more than purchase of the Dry Dock would cause a municipal crisis. It is interesting that the problem has been solved- the feds did it! They did not take proper care of the site while it was in their control. Should they have done away with the wooden piles that underlie the dock? Should they have, in fact, surrounded the dock with steel as is now projected? Probably. This was the site of building ships in the Second World War. They (the Feds), certainly left the site in a mess. The west side of the dock, where ships were launched is decayed, and the dock itself is unsafe!

The property was not included in the Brownfields area as the “program was not intended to subsidize the cleanup of properties owned and contaminated while being operated by other levels of government.”. Perhaps their failure was the reason the Feds put so much money and time into the Dry Dock. Who knows what has gone on behind the scenes, but I’d bet Homestead has had a hand in everything.

 

Of interest was (finally), the consideration of Councillor Neill’s motions to alter the procedural by-law. As the previous mayor said “if you don’t like it, change it” so Neill tried to give movers an extra minute to speak to an amendment and, in a separate motion, to overrule the chair (mayor). Both motions were quite sensibly referred to the administrative policies committee later (not this week). The mayor stepped gently into this quagmire and was relieved when they were deferred. Clearly, if there is not a procedural committee- which there is not, then these items are too complicated to discuss in Council.  I don’t think Councillor Neill will succeed in committee. The rest of Council seems quite happy with the procedural by- law as it is.  The committee is one of the standing committees of Council consisting (with the exception of Councillor Osanic) of first term Councillors- Boehme, Allen, Candon, Holland, and Stroud. Unless they create a sub- committee and include Neill, he is not there.

 

And you will be happy to know that in spite of losing about 30% of potable water, our water is in fact drinkable as attested by the CEO of Utilities Kingston. Good for us, or good for him!