March 31, 2016 – Casino Free Zone?
My name is Karen Pagratis and I report on the Planning Committee meetings of Kingston City Council.
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.
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.
After an unusually long March Break and Easter recess it was business as usual with all Councillors in attendance at the Planning Committee this week. Zoning by-law amendments were requested and generally accepted as feasible. Thus 1575 Westbrook Road (north of the 401) will be expanding from its current business of firewood processing to include a contractor’s yard, transport and cartage yard, soil processing facility, and service garage etc. 169 Union St. (formerly known as Queen’s Day Care) will indeed be turning into a dental office with apartments above it, as previously reported here. And the subdivision planned for 2939 Creekford Road – Phase 2 & 3 will go ahead increasing the density in Cataraqui West.
The only slightly unusual request at this Planning meeting was the application by the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority (CRCA) to sever 2.82 hectares of its land which is part of the overall Conservation Area and is designated Open Space in the Official Plan and re-designate it to Restricted Agricultural. The reason here being that the CRCA wishes to sell this land which contains an existing dwelling, (currently rented) and barn. Municipally known as 1572 Sunnyside Rd., the CRCA apparently considers it “surplus to their needs”. Councillor Neill asked if this 19th century farmhouse was listed, (meaning if it has a heritage designation). Director Paige Agnew answered the question herself, saying she would look into it. Curious.
However the really “big” issue presented was that of zoning amendments concerning Casino Gaming Facilities. You will likely
recall that the “Casino within Kingston” issue appeared as a referendum question on the ballot of our last municipal election in October of 2014. The result was that a resounding 67.09% of Kingston electors voted “No” to a casino. (The groundswell of opposition came as a surprise to many of the previous Council members who had been in early support of the idea and gradually changed their minds throughout their election campaigns – including our current Mayor.) After the referendum and election, the new Council directed staff to determine options or “measures that could be taken to not permit a Casino Gaming Facility in Kingston”. One of the resulting options was to “Amend the Official Plan to prohibit a CGF anywhere within the City”. However according to that same staff report, “the City is not able to use its Official Plan to put in place City-wide prohibitions, but can use the Official Plan and Zoning By-Laws to control land uses. There doesn’t appear to be a clear explanation as to why the City is not able to prohibit a Casino, but Council chose to take the latter option. Therefore, a casino “will not be listed as a permitted use in any of the zones in any of the by-laws” of Kingston.
But note, that should developers at some time in the future wish to build a casino, they may simply apply for an amendment to the Official Plan and (just like their residential counterparts) apply for an amendment to the Zoning By-Law. Doesn’t sound like a permanent solution. Let’s hope the casino question doesn’t raise its ugly head again in Kingston any time soon.