Tag Archives: Williamsville

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.

 

Kingston City Council Meeting Commentary – April 1, 2014 #ygk #ygkc

Jason’s Commentary on the April 1st Kingston City Council meeting

Jason here. Just when you expect to hear something – it doesn’t happen. NOTHING, was said about the $35,000,000 the province will provide for a new secondary school. Jason expected to have Council reiterate, or not, that the Memorial Centre was NOT available. Nothing of the sort occurred. Perhaps it is too soon, after MPP Gerretsen’s announcement. Perhaps we can expect it at the next meeting. It has been said before, but the talker (Councillor Neill) certainly would not let that deter him.

What we did hear was a lot about the potential neurological effects of cell phone towers. Cell phone towers are a federal responsibility and it is hard to imagine a situation in which the municipality would have no input. But this is the case here. The Council chambers were full of, I assume, Calvin park residents who thought that the tower was too close to schools. And they are correct. The question was put to staff, to survey other municipalities, to see what, if anything could be done. An interesting aspect this question was the assertion that Guelph and Oakville had put a moratorium on such towers. The mayor explained that this was not the case (he must have checked). Those cities might want to place a moratorium, but they have no power to do so. This is an issue that will not go away. The city has to, and will, produce a cell tower policy. It, of course, will satisfy no one.

On the technological front, Council agreed with a staff recommendation to allow Dominion Voting Systems to provide, for the 2014 municipal election, with the possibility of using the same system in 2018 (telephone and internet voting) for the advance poll. This is an interesting move – and a small one – into on-line voting – voting should lend itself to the internet, but a risk free system has not yet been devised. Councillor Schell asked if there will be a phone number for those having trouble with the system. Yes, there will, and I bet it will be used a lot! Jason promises to test it.

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Kingston Memorial Centre park and fairground

Kingston City Council Meeting – March 18, 2014 #ygk

Jason here. I think that everyone on Council wanted to save turtles, but the issue was sent back to the committee. This Is a good time to wonder if the committee system is working. Set up to fill an obvious need for some forethought, the system was designed not to rob Council of making important decisions- and this was certainly an important decision. As the mayor reported- would it not be more useful to give the amount of money involved. ($62,000) to a homeless shelter? Perhaps committees should give options instead of voting on controversial issues. However, if u have an an environmental issue you wish to pursue it is wise to pursue it at this committee- members;Neill, Glover,Berg, Hector, Hutchison. It does not include the biggest environmentalist- .councillor Osanic, and in a left/ right views it is fairly well balanced.

This,appearances to the contrary, is an important issue that when it finally comes to a vote, will show Councillor’s colours. We will have red light cameras to catch offenders who run red lights, IF we can find 10 intersections that merit them. This perceived safety measure is designed to,put money in the city’s kitty, as infractions would more than pay for the cost of the cameras plus installation (so the report says) But we won’t have a question on the ballot in the upcoming municipal election on whether future elections should be on a city- wide or ward basis. The most noticeable aspect of this acrimonious debate was Councillor George’s dislike of Councillor Neill’s Williamsville emphasis. He, Councillor George, thought this emphasis is at the expense of the rest of the city. One could just as easily say that Councillor George was ignoring the inner city. Is this a left/ right split or an inner city/ west end split? It will be interesting to see where the votes fall when Pittsburgh is divided into two when the population there builds up. Councillor Scott voted ‘no’ to the referendum seeing no advantage for the rural part of the city. Thus the question was lost.

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