Letters of support

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.

Don Campbell

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.

Don Campbell

City needs people living downtown – Mac Gervan’s Letter to the Editor October 20, 2018

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.

Mac Gervan


Vote for progression – David Phillips Letter to the Editor October 20, 2018

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.

David Phillips