Kingston city councillors reject mediator role in Capitol Condo proposal

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WATCH: The debate over Kingston's Capitol Condo development is set to go to the courts – Jan 23, 2019

Kingston city councillors will not be mediating a compromise for the Capitol Condominium development after a city staff report was soundly rejected by municipal politicians in an 11-2 vote.

IN8, the developer behind the project, had agreed to enter into mediation, however the Kingston residents who fought against the 16-storey building at the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal refused.

READ MORE: City looks to mediate Capitol Condo dispute

Annette Burfoot, one of the appellants in the tribunal appeal, says residents offered mediation to the developer before the LPAT decision.

“We approached IN8 about the possibility of mediation and they said: ‘No, we want to go to court,’ and there was discussion of deep pockets, and they could go a long way,” Burfoot said.

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The former Capitol Theatre property sits on Princess Street in the heart of the city’s downtown core, part of Coun. Rob Hutchison’s district of King’s Town.

During the council debate, Hutchison said the group would have nothing to gain by entering into mediation.

The crux of the residents’ argument to the tribunal was that the development does not follow the city’s official plan.

READ MORE: Opposition to Capitol Condo denies city attempt to mediate

Current zoning for the Princess Street property allows a maximum building height of 25.5 metres, which city staff say is roughly eight storeys.

Hutchison argued that mediation could result in the possibility that the developer would build a structure with a number of storeys in the low teens. For the appellants to enter into this mediation, he continued, would essentially be throwing away the decision of the tribunal, which agreed with their stance that the municipal official plan should be followed.

“Why would they enter a process where a mediation that undermines their own position, just by saying yes, means now you’re waffling?” said Hutchison.

READ MORE: Capitol Condo rejected by Local Planning Appeal Tribunal

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Coun. Jim Neill of Williamsville, immediately west of King’s Town, says mediation in this instance is against the municipality’s goal of transparency.

“It puts all of the decision-making out of the hands of the community, out of the hands of council and puts it all behind closed doors,” he said.

Coun. Peter Stroud of Sydenham, which is filled with heritage buildings and also shares a border with King’s Town, says the developer should return to the city with a new and more appropriate proposal.

“Which is what we were all telling (the developer) during the process, and they ignored us because they wanted to play high-stakes poker,” said Stroud.

WATCH: Developer to appeal Capitol Condo denial in Kingston

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Developer to appeal Capitol Condo denial in Kingston – Nov 28, 2018

That poker game continues. Developer IN8 is now going to provincial court to seek an appeal to the LPAT decision.

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First, the company has to prove there are grounds to appeal, something Burfoot doesn’t think will be possible.

She believes the tribunal decision is on strong legal ground.

“There was no error in the procedure. We believe, as I say, we didn’t win — the official plan won,” Burfoot said.

Along with the rest of the appellants, Burfoot’s beliefs will be tested on April 4 when the developer attempts to have the tribunal’s decision overturned as it heads to provincial court.

When asked about the denial of mediation, Darryl Firsten, owner of IN8 developments, did not offer any comment.

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