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Kingston, Ont. developer wins lengthy legal battle to build two apartment towers in the downtown

Kingston developer Homestead Land Holdings Ltd. clear legal hurdle to construct two high-rise apartments in downtown Kingston. City of Kingston

Downtown Kingston, Ont., will soon be getting two new highrise buildings.

Homestead Land Holdings Ltd. has won a lengthy legal battle to construct 19-storey and 23-storey buildings on lower Queen Street.

Lawyers for the Frontenac Heritage Foundation failed to sway Ontario’s Divisional Court to allow an appeal of an earlier Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) decision that granted Homestead approval to construct the two towers.

The case was heard in Divisional Court in February of this year.

Read more: Homestead wins second round at planning appeal tribunal

“This has been a long process, and we thank our many supporters over the years. Obviously, we are disappointed that we were not granted leave to appeal,” said Shirley Bailey, president of the Foundation, in a written news release.

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She adds: “As an organization, we will continue our role of advocating for the heritage character of our historic core.”

Homestead’s two proposed apartment towers would be located within sight of Kingston City Hall. CKWS TV

The ruling caps a years-long legal battle between the developer and citizens groups, who argued the two towers are not compatible with the official plan’s objective of preserving Kingston’s unique heritage character.

The apartment towers, proposed for two locations on Queen and Ontario streets, were originally rejected by the LPAT due to building heights and architectural designs that were not compatible with surrounding heritage buildings.

When the LPAT rescinded its original decision – a move that rarely happens – it said that the city’s official plan wasn’t considered holistically and that policy objectives like brownfield remediation, housing supply and intensification were not properly considered.

Homestead won approval to construct the buildings during the LPAT re-hearing, with the outcome released in December 2019.

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Read more: The Queen Street condo compromise

It was that decision that the heritage group sought leave to appeal in court earlier this year based on the argument that the tribunal made legal errors that merit the court’s consideration.

Here’s a view of one of proposed Homestead towers at the corner of Queen and Ontario Streets in downtown Kingston. City of Kingston

The request was denied.

“I conclude that the Tribunal did not make any extricable error of law in its decision. Frontenac’s motion for leave to appeal is accordingly denied,” wrote Justice Sally Gomery in her June 17 decision.

Justice Gomery says the tribunal gave proper regard to the city’s official plan in its entirety and came to a “reasonable decision” in approving the proposed Homestead development.

Plans for the Homestead buildings also include some retail and office space.

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–with files from Darryn Davis

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