progressive, authentic, living and changing Kingston
Future Kingston is a community group made up of people who believe in a progressive, authentic, living, and changing Kingston.
A Kingston that identifies appropriate opportunities and takes action to ensure our city is a great place to work and live for the next 25 years. A City that attracts people to visit and to move here to grow our work force, develop their careers, and start their businesses.
Our current focus is to further the discussion regarding the benefits of residential intensification in Downtown, and other key areas where infrastructure is already in place.
We believe that, in terms of economics, the environment, health and wellness, cultural vitality, and downtown look and feel – high rises are currently an astounding opportunity. An opportunity created by the City’s $100 million spent on infrastructure projects in the downtown, and the $100 million investment in amenities (The Rogers K-Rock centre, Grand Theatre, Springer Market Square and Rink, Artillery Park, etc.).
These, and improvements to transit, bike lanes, as well as planned investment in Confederation Park, Breakwater Walkway, Sydenham Street parkette, and Doug Fluhrer Park – have combined to create a desirable, walkable, and livable urban area.
Now is the time to seize this opportunity, and say “yes” to a smart mix of mid rise and high rise residential intensification downtown.
The following is a list of reasons why we support residential intensification in downtown Kingston.
Studies from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and information from Statistics Canada have shown that high rise apartment and condo buildings consume 65% less energy, use less water and produce less waste than suburban, single family homes, on a per resident basis. Intensification will also result in less dependence on the automobile, and more transit use.
We already have an intensified downtown employment zone – 700 businesses in the Central Business District, plus Queen’s, CFB Kingston, the hospitals, and RMC. And we have the required commercial intensification for high “walkability scores” eliminating chances of “reverse commute”.
Health, Wellness, Inclusion, Safety:
A densified community encourages more walking and cycling. Close proximity to multiple amenities downtown such as Artillery Park, fitness clubs, and yoga studios naturally promote health and wellness. Various free festivals, concerts, and skating in Springer Market Square allow for residents to be actively engaged in the downtown community. Multiple social agencies make downtown Kingston their home. This increases both access to support and awareness of social issues. Jane Jacobs believed that dense populations create safer environments for the public, what she referred to as, “Eyes on the street”.
During the “construction phase” money is spent on permits, design and engineering services, marketing and sales, financing, legal, insurance etc. And, of course, land acquisition, site preparation and construction itself create many hours of work for many different professions.
In the “occupancy phase” the new residents spend money weekly on groceries, household supplies, entertainment, their accommodation (rent or mortgage, taxes) and in shops and restaurants, pharmacies and fitness clubs etc.
Downtown offers the full range of personal and professional services and businesses of all kind within walking distance. As the closest supplier, downtown businesses will receive a high percentage of sales.
Kingston’s $100 million investment in infrastructure (Big Digs, etc.) and $100 million investment in amenities (Rogers K-Rock Centre, Grand Theatre, Springer Market Square & Rink, Artillery Park etc.) has created this opportunity.
Densification downtown will encourage more artists, musicians, and young professionals to reside in the area, promoting Kingston as an Entertainment and Arts Hub in Eastern Ontario.
Higher residential population grows audience and market for the Grand Theatre, Rogers K-Rock Centre, festivals, events, and clubs, bars, and restaurants that feature live performance. Art galleries, craft shops, the Public Market, and specialty food stores featuring local product will also benefit.
Downtown Look and Feel:
All ages of architecture can be celebrated in a densified downtown. A vibrant community is not a museum, rather a living, changing, authentic and vibrant place to live, work, and enjoy. Modern structures can balance, frame, and act as backdrop to heritage buildings to showcase the city in a dramatic way. Podium building height at the sidewalk will preserve existing scale for pedestrians. High rise towers maximize the number of new residents.
Positive Housing Market Impacts:
High rises in the downtown area will provide a large number of residential units. This will slightly increase Kingston’s vacancy rate, creating a more competitive housing market place. This keeps rents down, and improves the quality of housing.
A new supply of residential units downtown and mid-town will cause some student rentals in Sydenham District and Williamsville to be converted back to single family homes.
Downtown condos and apartments are the preferred housing of many young professionals and will make it easier for existing and new Kingston businesses to attract them to our community as employees.
By Matthew Sachs in the Ottawa Citizen (July 3, 2014)
“…high-density living, such as a downtown apartment building, is much more environmentally friendly than living in a rural community. It may surprise you to learn that New York City has the lowest per capita energy use in North America by far.”
By Rob Oatway Letter to the Editor in Kingston Region (March 7, 2016)
“One needs to look no further than a city such as Boston to see an example of how things could be done. That city that has locations and buildings which were integral in the history of the United States – buildings which pre-date those in our downtown. Immediately adjacent to those same historical buildings are (gasp) “multi-story” buildings that look as though they were plucked from the Toronto or New York skyline. These new and modern buildings don’t make the history any less important, and the buildings haven’t stopped tourists from visiting. They provide a place for people to live and work, and they also provide hotel rooms for tourists to stay within, pouring even more money into their local economy.”
Blog Post by Michael Lewyn, Associate Professor Touro Law Centre NY (January 23, 2015)
“The common claim that “high-rises kill streetlife” is often incorrect…In fact high-rises may sometimes increase street life by increasing the popularity of city life and thereby increasing urban density.”
“If the future is going to be greener, then it must be more urban. Dense cities offer a means of living that involves less driving and smaller homes to heat and cool. For the sake of humanity and our planet, cities are – and must be – the wave of the future.”
By Alex (Sandy) Crothers Letter to the Editor Kingston Whig Standard (June 18, 2016)
“We are extremely fortunate to live in a place that has so many opportunities in front of us, the pen site, the third crossing, the waterfront master plan, the airport expansion, downtown living opportunities as well as numerous public and private developments both large and small.”
“Most of us tend to believe that downtown condo living is expensive—certainly more so than living in a suburban single-family home. But what if I could shatter that preconceived notion that urban living is prohibitively expensive?”
“Some municipalities are starting to ask questions and find savings. In established areas, much or all of the required infrastructure already exists, and so redevelopment and infill development typically entail significantly lower municipal capital spending. Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) recently found that it could save hundreds of millions of dollars by reducing the expansion of low-density sprawling development and opting for more dense urban development. Calgary found that by adopting a denser growth pattern that used 25% less land, it could save $11 billion in capital costs alone.” (October 2013)
By James Ward Letter to the Editor in The Whig (Jan 13, 2016)
“Studies from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have shown that highrise apartment and condos buildings consume 65 per cent less energy, 40 per cent less water and create 40 per cent less waste than suburban single-family homes, on a per resident basis. These environmental benefits are a main reason why urban intensification is being promoted in cities around the world and has been a key planning policy in Ontario since 2005.”
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
By Jane Jacobs (Random House, 1961)
On diversity, high rises and zoning, from Page 253
“…the purpose of zoning for deliberate diversity should not be to freeze conditions and uses as they stand. That would be death. Rather, the point is to insure that changes or replacements, as they do occur, cannot be overwhelmingly of one kind. This means, often, constraints on too rapid a replacement of too many buildings. I think the specific scheme of diversity zoning, or the specific combination of schemes, that an outstandingly successful city locality requires is likely to differ with the locality and with the particular form of self-destruction that threatens it. However, in principal, zoning aimed directly at building ages and building sizes is a logical tool, because variety in types of accommodations is reflected, usually, in variety of uses and populations. A park being surrounded by intensive duplications of tall offices or apartments might well be zoned for lower buildings along its south side in particular, thus accomplishing two useful purposes at one stroke: protecting the park’s supply of winter sun, and protecting indirectly, to some extent at least, its diversity of surrounding uses.”
Quote from Daniel Libeskind in the New York Times (June 5, 2015)
World renowned architect on Paris abandoning high rises:
“…When they abandoned the tower they also abandoned the idea of a high-density sustainable city. Because they exiled all future high rises….they failed to consider the consequences of what it means to be a vital, living city versus a museum. People sentimentalize their notions of the city, but with the carbon footprint, the waste of resources, our shrinking capacity, we have no choice but to build good high-rise buildings that are affordable.”
By Susan Smith, from the Globe and Mail (March 7, 2016)
“Two other condo developments – City Square on Robinson Street and the Stinson School Lofts – lie just outside the provincially designated urban growth centre. More than 300 new hotel rooms have been added downtown, businesses are returning and the education and health care sectors are investing in the once-derelict area. Coffee shops, restaurants, galleries, bars, boutiques and other amenities are sprouting up to serve the new urbanites, completing the picture of a promising renewal that has been a long time coming.”
“The movement out to the suburbs has been reversed,” says Mr. Norton, himself a downtown Hamilton condo dweller. “It’s being driven by the millennials, who aren’t so keen on buying a car and like to be close to their social scene. And at the other end of the spectrum are the empty-nesters.”
Supports up to 18 storey buildings – with base podium design.
A Country of Cities, A Manifesto For an Urban America
By Vishaan Chakrabarti (2013)
“…dense cities are the most efficient economic engines, are the most environmentally sustainable, and are the most likely to encourage joyful and healthy lifestyles. So, how do we build delightful cities that make us more prosperous, ecological, fit, and equitable? This chapter lays out the factors that impede hyperdensity in our cities today, and the conditions necessary to create hyperdense environments in the future including great design, responsible preservation, and sound urban planning.”
By Hollie Pratt-Campbell in the Kingston Heritage (May 26, 2016)
“But I often still think, wouldn’t it be nice if there were more places, especially affordable places, for people to live in the downtown core? There are many people in this city who want to live the condo lifestyle – from single people to young couples to ‘empty nesters’ looking to downsize.”
Major changes made to the design include height (the building has been reduced from 20 stories to 16 stories plus a rooftop patio), a brick facade instead of the proposed limestone on Queen Street (in order to better blend in with surrounding buildings) and removal of the red fascinator from the design.
The Lazarus Project: An Exploration of the Economics of Heritage Developments in Ontario notes that the “Flatiron Building demonstrates quite profoundly that the old and the new can coexist peacefully and beautifully.”
Paul Fortier’s letter of support for Residential Intensification
The prospect of a high-rise residence and commercial development appears to be causing significant controversy in the City of Kingston this holiday season! As a resident of the downtown and owner of two businesses in the downtown (Sir John’s Public House and Renaissance Event Venue) I wanted to share with you my opinion on the proposal for the Capitol Condo project. As well, allow me to explain that besides having vested interests in Kingston’s downtown, I have served for 20 years in federal heritage conservation agencies and as chair of a local municipal Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee.
My main point will be that the preservation of Kingston’s heritage properties and unique heritage appeal will largely be based on the downtown’s ability to maintain its economic prosperity. Should the economy fail, the heritage buildings will be unoccupied and not maintained. If the downtown can remain vibrant and businesses can flourish then the heritage properties they occupy will be preserved and will continue to present a unique mix of retail, residential and hospitality/entertainment venues.
The introduction of high density residential units in Kingston’s downtown core will boost the district’s economic prosperity and guarantee the preservation of businesses and the heritage structures they own or occupy.
With an eye to heritage landscapes I see no threat by this proposal to the downtown’s unique, nostalgic, heritage appeal. It allows the downtown to modernize while preserving its past and acts as a catalyst for economic development and increases tax revenues for the city.
I urge you to encourage this development and facilitate its progress!
Paul Fortier – Jessup Food & Heritage, Ltd.
Don Campbell’s letters in support of Residential Intensification
January 9, 2016
I expect like you, I am an avid downtown supporter. My wife and I have the pleasure of being able to walk out our door, summer and winter, to everything our downtown has to offer. I want to see our downtown flooded with many others who can enjoy and share in this way of urban life: new families, professionals, merchants, retirees, students, those in need of social assistance, and all those in-between. I want to see them on foot, bikes, and assorted wheels, in fewer cars. I want to see them enjoying the waterfront, the cafes, the pubs, the shops, theatres, parks and green/white spaces throughout the year. I want to see the downtown economically sustainable as part of a modern vibrant city with the charm of our downtown core maintained. We can have both. This is my priority.
I don’t see how this can happen, with many more residents enjoying and living with easy, walkable access to everything described above in all seasons without vertical expansion in our downtown core. If we restrict all buildings to 19th century heights, and if “intensification” is to occur, can there be an alternative to sprawl on the margins that could get ugly and bring more cars to the core in search of parking – until they find it easier to head to the west end? I can’t think of any.
So, I am not opposed to the Capitol Condo project nor to the Homestead high-rises on Queen Street. They will bring a concentration of residents into downtown without necessarily compromising the quasi-19th century charm of lower Princess, King, Ontario, Clarence, Brock streets and Sydenham Ward. Yes, the proposed buildings are tall, and maybe a bit too tall. They will be seen from some places on Princess Street and other points in our heritage areas if you happen to be looking up. And that to my mind is okay. I value maintaining pockets of heritage worthy of preservation that can co-exist with modern, high-rise designs. We can look on portions of our downtown as a museum, and that’s fine, but if we use that metaphor as a pervasive measuring stick for development, we will get stuck in our past and continue to bemoan the plight of downtown shops hanging on by a thread.
One downtown merchant wrote to me: “I believe the injection of economic vibrancy into our downtown will only permit and guarantee the preservation of those heritage structures that now endow our downtown.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s symbolic. Downtown population growth brings the economic input to sustain and maintain the heritage streetscapes we cherish that, in turn, sustain and promote growth.
I look forward to a vibrant, exciting downtown that shows off our heritage integrated with new architecture that turns heads and maybe invites controversy. I would like to see designs that reflect our past as well as others that move us forward to appreciate that if city-cores are not dynamic, they stagnate and rust.
Condo can fit downtown – June 25, 2016
Those opposed to tall buildings in downtown Kingston, such is the Vision for Kingston group, might have a change of heart — and mind — with a visit to downtown Victoria, B.C. My wife and I lived there the month of February, on the 11th floor of a condo on the edge of the city centre. Though with a downtown population more than double Kingston’s, there are many similarities: a historic core and waterfront, a university and colleges, a population mix from students to seniors, and attractions for tourists.
Without a car, we walked everywhere in the city, waterfront and neighbourhood villages for shopping, exercise and entertainment. Victoria appears to have emerged from its dowdy past populated by the “newly wed and nearly dead.” It is achieving densification with a smart mix of high- and low-rise apartments and condos that are immediately adjacent to, and easily visible from, the waterfront, the old neighbourhoods, and the historic core that has been well preserved.
The only instances where we found highrise development borderline ugly was when they exceed 17 to 18 storeys. As Kingston “downtowners,” we support a smart mix of well-designed high- and mid-rise development that achieves keeping our unique urban heritage intact while inviting many more Kingstonians into the core to sustain that heritage, and to enjoy the wonderful advantages of downtown Kingston living.
I have been following the election closely and have just read Ben Pilon’s letter to the editor. I could not agree more.
I have been on the heritage committee for many years and have been involved with many heritage projects. I love our city and its unique heritage, but we need to keep our economy healthy and for this, we need good viable development.
I have seen the downtown several times over the years go through growing pains where there are many empty stores, etc. and have seen it bounce back. Times are different now. Aside from the draws of the big plazas and box stores, people are now buying more and more on line and taking away from the viability of downtown retail. We need people living downtown to keep our city core alive and well.
I keep hearing from the same group of very well meaning people who are opposed to any real development and basically say no to everything and brush all developers with the same ‘evil’ brush. I think this is nonsense.
I think having Vicki Schmolka as mayor would be a divisive economic disaster.
No council is or ever will be perfect, but I think that Mayor Bryan Paterson has done a very good job. He is open-minded and listens to all views and I think he deserves our support for another four years.
Mayoral candidate Vicki Schmolka, in her statements in today’s paper said that “big, expensive projects such as the third crossing and John Counter upgrade were not a benefit to all citizens.” Is she for real? I am aware that Schmolka believes everyone should ride a bike or bus but, for many, this is not practical or possible.
As a sales representative I can go, in one day, from Bath to Gananoque; from East to West in Kingston and would love to know how she can suggest I ride a bike or bus! And, there are thousands of Kingstonians I am sure, who are in the same position – all over our city. But, further to her rant against large projects, since I don’t ride bikes, the bike lanes are of no value to me; I don’t ride buses so why should I have to pay for upgrades; I don’t use our libraries so why should I pay for these; I don’t and never have had, kids in Kingston schools so why should I have to pay for schools. And the list could go on.
In another mayoral debate, she commented that there is no support for budding young entrepreneurs. Obviously she has never visited KEDCO to see all the programs it offers; does not know about all the networking groups in our city who have mentoring programs for young (and old) business people. Last, in her campaign piece, she comments about how much a group of citizens have had to raise to fight decisions at City Hall. I would ask – how much have these useless appeals cost the taxpayers of Kingston to fight decisions made by a duly elected council that a small group of “don’t do anything” people don’t like. I sincerely hope the citizens don’t vote for regression for Kingston.