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Kingston citizens’ group seeks answers from city on proposed downtown apartment buildings

Kingston citizens group raising questions about the deal between the city and Homestead
WATCH: Kingston citizens group looking for answers.

A Kingston citizens’ group is raising questions about the deal made between the city and Homestead Landholdings over its two proposed apartment buildings in the downtown area.

The Coalition of Kingston Communities says it wants to know about financial and ethical questions over the partnership, and believes details have been kept hidden from the public.

READ MORE: Proposed Princess Street development for Kingston to include multi-family apartment buildings

Christine Sypnowich is the chair of the coalition.

“When we got in touch with the city to ask what exactly was the Homestead deal, the city was committed to releasing that information. This is what we kept getting,” Sypnowich said, showing a blank page.

New LPAT hearings to be scheduled on Homestead north block apartment development
New LPAT hearings to be scheduled on Homestead north block apartment development

Sypnowich says they received all 103 pages of the document, but maybe the most important page was blank — the one spelling out the financial details.

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Alan McLeod is the acting city solicitor.

“A member of the public asked for the minutes of settlement last September, and it was scanned and sent to them,” said Alan McLeod, acting city solicitor.

“It became clear [to] the member of public when they received it there were a few pages missing. That information was sent back to the office of the cler. It was re-scanned and sent back to them within days.”

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When the citizen’s group received the full document, it says the city has committed to pay Homestead nearly $280,000 plus utilities over 10 years for the unstaffed and unfinished art gallery space as part of the two-building development.

LPAT to revoke their original decision on two new Homestead buildings
LPAT to revoke their original decision on two new Homestead buildings

Sypnowich, however, says there is another problem with the deal, which was approved close to the 2018 election.

“There is a provision in the Municipal Act that city councils can not make significant financial decisions when they’re in a lame duck position, which means when they’re coming down to the end of term,” she said.

“[That] was precisely the situation that Kingston city council was in when they made the Homestead deal. They were winding down their term.”

“In the minutes of settlement, council is able to make a future decision if it chooses to lease a part of the project once it’s approved and developed,” McLeod responded.

“But that’s a future decision of council which has not been made at this time.”

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As for the high-rise project, it was rejected by LPAT, but the tribunal has ordered a second hearing.