Tag Archives: Neill

Casino Free Zone?

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.

 

Green House Gases

Jason here. Well it was a short meeting- only an hour with only two Councillors missing- Boehme and Holland although many others were late- a little snow, I guess. This was a Special Meeting of Council, the regular meeting the night before had been cancelled because of the snow. Don’t know what Cogeco did to fill in the slot, but they (Cogeco) were there last night to film the meeting, even though they were not showing it!

The changes to the Rideau Heights plan passed without a whimper or a protestation last night on the referral from Planning Board. This is a mistake on top of a mistake. The first Rideau heights plan- to put too many subsidized units together was a mistake and the most recent plan which raises the density to 75 units per acre is a mistake as well. The only thing that can save Rideau Heights now is a mix of buildings. Jason bets it won’t happen!

 GHG (greenhouse gases) are very much on the city’s mind. So much so that the City’s Paul MacLatchy, director of Environment and Sustainability is working on it, so is KEAF so is Sustainability Kingston. In a presentation by Ruth Noordegraaf the President of Sustainability Kingston, they hope Kingston will   (with others) become a founding partner in the GHG initiative. Sustainability Kingston is an interesting beast, in that the city gave birth to it, although they did not take it into the City, making it instead a non-profit, group – with admitted ties to the city. (Much like Fanny May’s relationship to the Feds south of the border) Should it fail, it will be a black mark on this Council and the one before it. Anyway, they will establish benchmarks and see how everyone is doing in reducing GHG. The question was raised was $10,000 enough “Yes” if other partners are found. If you think that the environment has taken over Sustainability Kingston, you would be right. But this passed unanimously as wished by Councillor Neill.

They will (so they say,) be reporting regularly. One should hear from them often – with three Cities creations guiding them!

Under New Motions a request by Councillor Boehme that the request for a “bump- up” to Planning  Board of a request by Tamarack Corp for a commercial plaza to have a site plan reviewed for issues such as Traffic and parking and landscaping was deferred to the next meeting of Council when presumably Councillor Boehme will be present.

 

 

Good Debate!

Jason here. All would be impressed by the quality of debate last evening. What is going on? First of all, the quieting of Councillor Neill has been impressive. Secondly, the mayor must have something to do with it! But what, Jason does not know. Maybe it is just a steadying influence. Maybe he spoke to Councillor Neill.

Third is the addition of Councillors Allen and McLaren- the latter between Neill and Hutchison. Maybe it makes a difference where one sits. So far we have not heard from Candon. Boehme is quiet, as is Turner. 

The much anticipated reform of non-statutory advisory committees happened last night. Gone is the near campus advisory committees as dysfunctional and the Memorial Centre advisory committee and the non-working Kingston Entitlement Access Committee, merged are the Municipal Heritage Committee and the Museums and Collections Advisory committee. This may have to be broken up again as ‘heritage’ is very important to Kingston. The Rural Advisory Committee made the cut as did the Housing and Homelessness Committee although the latter was advised to meet less often. All committees were advised to submit an annual report (they should have anyway) KEAF- drawing as it has on the experience and expertise of Queen’s, St. Lawrence and RMC and CRCA was the committee that Council hated to abandon, in fact it was saved by being thrown the carrot of climate change later in the meeting by McLaren and Allen. The environmental committee has been overwhelmed by in-house experts and the ‘environmental ‘ portion of Sustainability. Perhaps ‘ overwhelmed is not the word. In fact this committee is the last one -as staff grows- to appoint members with experience and expertise. So – over to them re climate change rather than the city’s staff.

Also under the gun was the City’s RFP procedure-. Councillor Hutchison’s amendment for future revisions to the Transportation Master plan which passed 7/5 was an example of the inadequacy of existing RFP procedure. Jason has thought for a long time that familiarity with Kingston should be worth at least 5 points

 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Kingston Electors

November 5, 2015– The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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 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.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Tonight’s meeting was a monster with not only the usual public meeting consisting of by-law amendment requests, but also the much anticipated 2nd draft presentation of the City’s “Official Plan”. Why the two would be combined is anyone’s guess, but it drew a huge crowd.

The owner of 84 Centre St., a residential semi, asked for a permit to build a secondary suite in his basement, a request very much consistent with the City’s urban intensification plan. Apparently the only one to have a problem with it was the neighbour who wanted to insist, among other things, that the owner add in 3 inches of sound insulation all the way up and down the connecting wall. The owner gave quite a clever response to this demand by insisting that he would be happy to do so if the neighbour did likewise on his side in order that all possible noise is muffled on either side.

Next came bigger fish, that of the creation of a new project area at 700 Gardiners Rd. (Which by the way is not on Gardiners Rd., but rather east of it and south of Taylor Kidd.) We are talking about the 40 hectare development planned behind the Rio Can Centre. The Developer here is Tamarack Homes owned by the Taggart Family, who speak through the planners at Fotenn Construction. They plan to provide a range of land uses, consisting of a mixture of housing options, “improve” traffic and parking patterns (although currently there exists neither traffic or parking to improve), provide social and recreational facilities and address brownfields. The last point is the most immediately significant as they wish to extend eligibility in order to apply for brownfield remediation funding. That is to say they want tax assistance to address any ground contamination which may currently exist. The property was formerly owned by Northern Telecom and later housed a cable factory which resulted in some chemical use.

Interestingly, Michelle Taggart addressed the committee herself later during the Official Plan presentation to request that the Plan be altered to accommodate an 18 metre road cross section rather than the existing 20 meter width. Also she would like to see the City abandon the sidewalk boulevard requirement, (that strip of land between between the street and the sidewalk) and have the sidewalks run directly adjacent to the street. There’s method here and in both cases it results in savings to the builder. Narrower streets obviously mean more houses and no sidewalk boulevards mean that short front yards can be made to appear longer, even though the buyer doesn’t own all of it. This is a builder who looks to the minute to increase profits and thus bears just as much watching as those who would construct a monolith with zero lot line in one brash move.

Finally, on to the real reason most people attended last night’s meeting, the latest update of the Official Plan. We are given some background by Rory Baksh, a planner with Dillon Consulting, hired by the City. In accordance with provincial legislation all municipalities must update their Official Plans every 5 years and must follow a specified process to do so. Public input is not only welcome, but required and every form of social media has been incorporated to aid in the “robust public consultation process”. Thus we have a new and very young face as Director of Planning blogging with stakeholders and holding “coffee mornings” and open house events. Personally I think that this is an innovative and healthy exercise for both the public and City Hall if, and only if, public opinion is truly and fully taken into account in the formulation of policies.

The Councillors had a few pointed questions. Councillor Osanic questioned the removal of specific measurements regarding “The Ribbon of Life” or buffer lands and why there appeared to be a softening of language regarding setbacks from bodies of water. This concern was echoed time and again by members of the public a little later. The official answer seemed to be that specific numbers in terms of measurement had been moved to another section of the report and that some exceptions were incorporated in the wording to cover existing lots/ houses that may be too close to the current water line.

Councillor Neill was concerned with the transparency of the Official Plan process and asked why there had only been one public meeting at the beginning of the process, particularly as other municipalities apparently have many more in their processes. The staff answered that is all that is required by provincial Act, but they may recommend another if Planning or Council directs them to do so. Two hours and much public commentary later, Neill asked the same question again and this time the Commissioner, Lanie Hurdle stepped in to assure those present that another public meeting would indeed be held.

Councillor George asked some very circuitous questions regarding transportation and residential intensification which seemed to boil down to cars may continue to go unrestrictedly through the city and secondary suites in “stable” areas are encouraged. You might recall that this councillor has had some very contentious and well publicized issues with some of his district residents regarding rental units within their subdivisions.

Councillor McLaren rode his usual hobby horse (but briefly) of cost/benefit analysis, insisting that growth should pay for itself. Not a misplaced sentiment by any means. He went on to insist that the term “new development” must be removed from the wording and that cost/benefit analysis should be performed on all development. Presumably he’s not asking for staff to evaluate that which has already been developed, or is he?

Councillor Rob Hutchison who is not a member of the Planning Committee, but dropped in, made a plea for a Secondary Planning Process regarding Greenfields (new, undeveloped areas) to be included in the Plan. Then somewhat oddly, he went on to call for a prohibition of cul de sacs, as they were a waste of valuable residential land and that a straightforward grid method was much preferred. (Let’s hope the good councillor doesn’t decide to become an urban planner, or we might be in for a spate of Soviet-style architecture.)

Next came what Jim Neill aptly called “Homecoming”, with a number of former city councillors coming to the microphone to express their concerns. Floyd Patterson wanted to know what would become of the Kingston Penitentiary lands, if the Wellington St. extension was tied to the Third Crossing and whether the Official Plan will protect the Inner Harbour as a natural greenspace. George Sutherland was very concerned about the expansion of an open pit mine off Hwy #15 and also wanted prison farms to be reinstated. Vicki Schmolka, who by her own count was the 27th commentator, wanted the language of the Plan tightened, because as she quite rightfully pointed out, it’s rather worrisome when a developer’s agent says that if the language is too hard, we’ll all find ourselves in front of the OMB more often. (This is in fact precisely what Mike Kean, the land use planner with Fotenn for Tamarack predicted.) Ms. Schmolka went on to give an impassioned appeal to the citizenry of Kingston to realize that this was “a chance for us to determine what kind of city we want to be”. For more on her urban vision see her Letter to the Editor of the Whig Standard published about a week previously.

Questions and commentary from members of the general public touched on a vast variety of issues, but most often focussed on greenspace, heritage protection, and sight-line preservation. Former Kingston Municipal Planner, Rob Fonger, stated that development standards must be more specific, especially in regard to areas to be densified and downtown height restrictions. On the subject of height restrictions, Giselle Pharand, who managed to secure over 100 signatures within 36 hours on a petition, asserted that no building in the downtown core including the North Block and the Capitol Theatre proposals should be allowed to build higher than 8 to 10 stories. She wants it specified in the Official Plan and she wants to see it enforced! Christine Sypnowych, president of the Barriefield Village Association, spoke eloquently at length about built heritage preservation, the importance of greenspace and buffer zones and to be wary of unsympathetic developers. (This is of course a very timely issue for Barriefield as the builder Patry (of Princess St. development in Williamsville fame) has bought the old school immediately adjacent to the village and is very busy trying to determine just how many units he can possibly squeeze in to every available metre in all directions, up, down and sideways.)

On and on the wish list goes, from Save our Farms to requests for more designated bicycle parking, to a concern that cars not be banned. What was most significant in the whole process was resident’s involvement. Almost everyone who spoke cared deeply about what their city looked like, and perhaps more importantly, felt like. Engagement is what City Hall asked for and it’s certainly what they got, and I suspect, will continue to get as we move forward to the 3rd Draft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning is where it is at

September 17, 2015

Hello All

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.

 

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!