The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal has supported the appeal against the Capitol Condo project in downtown Kingston.
The decision was released on Friday by the tribunal, the body that replaced the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in April, where the appeal was originally filed.
“We’re pleased and gratified that the panel of experts was able to persuade the chair,” says Shirley Bailey of the Frontenac Heritage Foundation.
The former Capitol Movie Theatre on Princess Street was earmarked for a high-rise development to be constructed by IN8 Developments, a company based out of Toronto.
But a group of concerned citizens appealed the plans for the development with the OMB, arguing that the 16-storey height did not fall in line with the city’s Official Plan and zoning bylaws, which call for four-storey maximum on Princess Street, and a six-storey limit on Queen Street.
Those who appealed the project worried that the height of the new condo building would mar the historic charm of Kingston’s downtown core.
Hearings for the appeal began in late March, and after months of deliberation, it seems the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal has made their choice — heritage trumps height. On Nov. 9, the tribunal ordered the city to repeal the zoning bylaw that supported IN8’s project.
In the tribunal’s decision, adjudicators unanimously agreed that “the downtown and harbour area of Kingston is a remarkable urban artifact and one of Canada’s most well preserved heritage areas.”
Although disappointed with the decision, Mayor Bryan Paterson says they hope to learn from the ruling and move forward with development in the city.
“I think there is still a commitment to residential intensification in the downtown,” says Paterson. “We really want to understand what the issues are so we can respond to them and get the developments built that we need.”
The decision also notes that the city “has maintained its human scale through the preservation and protection of a continuity of a low-profile building landscape.”
The tribunal continued, saying there are guidelines set in place in Kingston like the city’s Official Plan and zoning bylaws, that clearly state the city’s dedication to keep its heritage core intact.
Finally, the tribunal decided the 16-storey tower proposed by IN8 “represents a visual intrusion that disrupts the streetscape and an identified cultural heritage resource; and is over-development that results in adverse impact.”
“The decision is a clear and concise planning precedent that provides a roadmap for preserving Kingston’s built heritage form for years to come”, said David Donnelly, counsel to Frontenac Heritage Foundation and Building Kingston’s Future, two groups who had been party to the building’s appeal process.
When contacted for comment, president of IN8 Developments Darryl Firsten said they’re still deliberating on how to move forward.
“We’re in the process of carefully reading through the decision, with our consultants, in order to better understand it.”
More to come.
WATCH: President of Toronto-based IN8 Developments, reacts to day one of OMB hearing