The second day of Ontario Municipal Board hearings on the proposed Capitol condominium project has come to a close, with two opposing views on whether the 16-storey tower should move forward.
Proponents want to see it built because it’s seen as a piece in developing a healthy downtown core, opponents say the project threatens Kingston’s historic downtown.
Shirley Bailey, the president of the Frontenac Heritage Foundation, says the foundation has serious concerns about the project.
“You’ve got a proposal for 16 storeys in an area where it’s predominantly two and three storeys, a few places maybe four.”
The Downtown Kingston BIA supports the project brought forward by developers In8.
The BIA’s chair Ed Smith says the city needs people living downtown for businesses to continue to thrive.
“Intensification and that’s a No. 1 priority for downtown Kingston — more people living downtown is obviously going to be very healthy and good for downtown businesses.”
Smith was a city councillor when Block D on Ontario Street was developed a decade ago.
The three-hectare property sat vacant for decades and was arguably an eyesore. The property now has several high-rise buildings on it.
Access to the waterfront was one of the big concerns at the time.
Isabel Turner was Kingston’s mayor at that time and says the city got that development right and addressed many of the concerns expressed by residents.
“My insistence was that we preserve the lakefront for the public. It meant that we the people still have access to Lake Ontario and it’s a very pleasant walk around there.”
Bailey says Block D skirts the edge of the heritage district and isn’t on Princess Street where many historic buildings are located.
She says a better example of responsible development preserving heritage is the Ana Lane condominiums on the corner of Queen and Bagot streets only a couple of blocks from the Capitol condominiums.
“At nine or 10 stories, it fits in very well. You’ve got a bit of a setback from the streets as well, whereas what’s being proposed is a zero lot line on Queen Street.”
The OMB hearing on the Capitol condominium development is scheduled for another 10 days and then it could be several months before the governing body renders its decision.
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