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Opposition to Capitol Condo denies city attempt to mediate

Click to play video: 'City looks to mediate Capitol Condo dispute' City looks to mediate Capitol Condo dispute
After a provincial body denied a development in downtown Kingston, the city has stepped in to try to find answers in the dispute. But Global Kingston has learned early Tuesday morning, that those opposing the development won't participate in the mediation – Jan 22, 2019

The city of Kingston is trying to revive the Capitol Condo project, but opposition to the development has already said they won’t play ball.

After years of debate over the 16-storey downtown development, the project was rejected by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal late last year. The provincial body decided the building’s height would be detrimental to surrounding heritage buildings.

READ MORE: Capitol Condo rejected by Local Planning Appeal Tribunal

Since then, the developer has challenged the ruling in court, and now, the City of Kingston is hoping to find a solution to the dispute through mediation.

A staff recommendation to be looked over by city council on Tuesday asks council “to make a request to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal to move forward on the matter by way of mediation and to determine if a solution as to what will be built on the property.”

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“There’s really an opportunity to hit the reset button to say if we put both sides down at the same table, is there some way we can negotiate,” said Mayor Bryan Paterson.

Council will discuss this recommendation on Tuesday and will decide whether to retain legal counsel to help mediate a deal between IN8 Developments — the company behind Capital Condos — and Building Kingston’s Future and Frontenac Heritage Foundation, the grassroots groups that fought the project and won.

“I think there’s always value in just re-checking in with both sides and saying, is there some common ground,” Paterson asked.

WATCH: The Capitol Condo saga

But it seems the opposition won’t be participating in that conversation.

“Council is a day late and a buck short,” David Donnelly, the legal representative for the Building Kingston’s Future, told Global Kingston.

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In a letter addressed to Paterson on Jan. 21, Donnelly said his client will unequivocally deny any invitation to mediate.

“We are authorized to advise you our clients will not accept an invitation to undo the November 9, 2018 Local Planning Appeal Tribunal decision.”

The letter went on to say that the groups opposed to the condo project were initially interested in mediation, but claimed that IN8 was not. Now, the groups opposed don’t see the benefit of talking.

READ MORE: Questions remain about Capital Condo project after OMB hearing

“The timing is wrong, it is a waste of taxpayer’s money, Frontenac Heritage Foundation and Building Kingston’s Future will be significantly out-of-pocket if they participate, and the City is hardly impartial in this matter.”

For his part, Darryl Firsten, owner of IN8 Development, says he welcomes the idea.

“We’d be happy to be in that room and work out a situation that brings this much needed housing to the region,” First said in an email.

Despite the firm answer from the opposition camp, Paterson remains hopeful.

“Really this is just a chance for council to send a signal to say, we’re interested in compromising.”

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