September 17, 2015
I’m a new voice on this Blog and my name is Karen. I’ll be reporting 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.
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. With the exception of Councillors McLaren and Turner, this is a seasoned group. They are all at least in their 3rd term as City Councillors and have all sat and continue to sit on a variety of committees. Councillor Liz Schell is a dignified and soft spoken Chairperson who seems able to maintain a congenial atmosphere, at least so far.
It was a short and largely uncontested meeting last night.
First we see an application for a zoning By-Law Amendment in the ongoing plan for commercial and residential development on Gardiners Rd. by Clermont Investments. The purpose of which is to “facilitate future severances and a condominium on the property”. This was pretty standard stuff for the Planning Department and the Planning Committee and given the location, doesn’t seem to be a cause for concern on anyone’s part. Only Councillor McLaren had a question, as to why the original bylaw had not provided for severance to which the staff really had no specific answer, other than the amendment now will allow the condo units to be sold individually. Since as the applicant claimed, the proposed amendment did indeed appear consistent with the City Plan for development, the motion was passed unanimously.
Next we have a rather more exotic by-law amendment application, that of Cruikshank Properties Corp, presented by John Uliani of IBI Group in regard to 2185 and 2215 Perth Rd. Exotic, because the owners wish to “remove the quarry designation on the property…to permit the construction of a single dwelling” while maintaining the quarry itself as a kind of waterfront for themselves. In addition there is to be a future commercial component to the request in potentially allowing, among other things, riding stable, industrial repair shop, warehouse, retail sales etc. Councillor Neill asked the question that must have been on many minds, what is the future intended use here? Are estate lots in the offing? Nevertheless the amendment passed unanimously and John Uliani who is a planner with many years’ experience, particularly at Kingston City Hall was congratulated by the Committee Chair on his upcoming retirement to Victoria, B.C. Mr. Uliani who has been known to be a tough negotiator on his clients’ behalf assured the committee that they would see him a few more times yet, and that he was only leaving Kingston for B.C. because all his kids and grandkids were there. It was a warm and fuzzy moment for the Planning Committee.
It was also worth noting that Councillor Richard Allen sat in the public seats for a short while, presumably to discover what was to be decided on amendments pertaining to his district, Countryside.
On to more controversial topics. Secondary suites seem to be the new “great idea, but not in my neighbourhood” issue of urban intensification dominating this decade. Councillor George had to absent himself from the room and the vote, due to “perceived” conflicts of interest, given that he does work for some of the builders who install secondary suites and who build in the area under question.
The sought after Amendment and Draft Plan of Subdivision concerns 1350 Woodfield Cres. in the area of Westbrook. “The applicant is requesting permission to develop a subdivision with 304 single detached dwellings units, 76 semi-detached dwelling units…” in an area that is currently designated as residential and environmentally protected. There were a number of issues here raised by Councillors Osanic, McLaren, and Neill. Staffs were asked if there is a tree preservation plan and fencing at the end of each house lot to protect those trees. Apparently not, the current woodlot will stay within the subdivision housing lots, rather than the usual practice of transferring to the City as part of its 5% parkland requirement. Next Councillor Osanic pointed out that one the proposed major streets is exceptionally long, straight and potentially dangerous and asked if firstly there would be a traffic calming strategy put into effect, to which the staff answered yes, and secondly would a culvert be constructed under this same street to help with water drainage and wildlife movements to which the staff answered that this level of detail had yet to be addressed. Along the same lines Councillor McLaren asked if consideration to native species in the woodlot area had been given, again the answer was that this was too detailed a question for now. And then we come to the hardball question, the cost of suburban infrastructure. Both Councillors McLaren and Neill asked whether the taxes gained from the proposed housing will cover the increased expenses. Staffs answer: “Hard to say”. Councillor Neill went on to comment that he would support the motion but with the caveat that there be presented a breakdown in fees vs. proposed property tax income. Councillor Turner on the other hand was strongly in favour of the motion which would create growth and is consistent with Kingston’s “open for business image”. The amendment passed with 3 for and 2 against.
Unfortunately I won’t be able to report on the Oct. 1st Planning Committee Meeting, but please join me again for a report on October 15th’s meeting.
Thank you for your interest. It’s your city and your votes make all the difference. Bye for now, Karen.