December 6, 2017 8:55 pm

Kingston, Homestead to negotiate controversial twin high-rise project

Homestead wants to build two high-rise apartments on lower Queen Street but the process has been plagued with controversy.

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On Tuesday night during a Kingston city council meeting, city staff presented council with a lengthy 200-page report that includes the latest on a controversial twin high-rise residential development proposed for lower Queen Street.

The developer, Homestead Land Holdings Limited, wants to tear down two large parking lots in the downtown core and put up one 17-storey and one 19-storey structure with about 400 residential rental units in each building.

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In June 2017, Homestead filed an appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board. According to Homestead, the appeal was filed because the city took longer than the allotted 180 days to make a decision on the project.

READ MORE: Homestead OMB pre-hearing held at Kingston City Hall

While the information report given to council was not discussed or debated, city officials said they are they’re still awaiting the outcome of a peer review.

“We’re going through a review as stated in our staff report. That will be brought forward through the Ontario Municipal Board meeting,” said Lanie Hurdle, commissioner of Community Services.

The city’s position is still up in the air but the mayor said negotiations have begun between the city and Homestead.

“[We’re hoping for] a compromise. [To] come up with a deal that the city can support. There’s still some technical analysis that our city’s planning staff is still undertaking,” said Kingston mayor, Bryan Paterson.

READ MORE: Highrises not part of the vision for downtown Kingston, says former city councillor

Since the project was announced in 2015, it has been plagued with controversy by local groups. Some believe Homestead is ignoring the city’s Official Plan and zoning bylaws.

“If you live in a single-family home, is it appropriate to put a 20-storey high rise right next to you? That’s something that Official Plan was trying to deal with — stable neighbourhoods, neighbourhood transitions, getting things in a systematic order so people aren’t faced with a wall of building in front of them,” said Vicki Schmolka, a member of the Coalition of Kingston Communities.

A second pre-hearing on the matter is scheduled for February 2018.

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