November 15, 2019 4:12 PM
With the finalization of Council’s Strategic Plan, I wanted to provide an update on the major policy studies being undertaken by the Planning Division, which include: the Central Kingston Growth Strategy; Density by Design: Kingston Mid-Rise and Tall Building Policy; the update to the Williamsville Main Street Study; the North King’s Town Secondary Plan; and, the new City-wide Zoning By-Law.
All of the work being done by these studies presents opportunities to contribute towards realizing the priorities outlined by Council in their Strategic Plan, including: demonstrating leadership on climate action; increasing housing affordability; improving walkability, roads and transportation; strengthening economic development opportunities; and fostering healthy citizens and vibrant spaces. A staff report was presented to Council on September 17 that provided a mid-year update on the Strategic Plan.
With Council’s priorities outlined in the Strategic Plan, and the complexity of the policy planning studies that are underway, it’s been important for our department to review our resources and re-examine the timelines of the various projects.
Central Kingston Growth Strategy
The Central Kingston Growth Strategy involves the development of a policy and regulatory framework to guide infill and intensification in the central area of the city. The intended outputs of this review include Official Plan policies, zoning recommendations for the new City-wide Zoning By-Law, design guidelines, and a servicing and infrastructure plan. The project team is currently working on draft recommendations, which are anticipated to be released for public feedback in early 2020. It is anticipated that the project will be completed in the spring of 2020.
Density by Design: Kingston Mid-Rise and Tall Building Policy
The Density by Design project is intended to educate and inform residents on the basics of design features for buildings greater than four storeys, and on the importance of design in creating livable spaces that support community. This project will complement other work the City is doing to support intensification and will provide clear direction on the design of mid-rise and tall buildings in the City.
Originally, the Density by Design project intended to provide policies to direct the design of buildings taller than four storeys, without considering the “where” of those buildings. As the project team researched and began developing recommendations, we found that more and more what was needed was a limit on where such buildings could be built, in order to direct those buildings to locations where they are appropriate. As a result, this work will now present options to both direct the design of buildings taller than four storeys, as well as their permitted locations across the City.
An Issues and Options Report for Density by Design will be released on November 15, and a public open house will be held on Thursday, November 21 from 3:00-6:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall at City Hall, 216 Ontario Street. It is anticipated that the Density by Design project will be completed in the spring of 2020.
Williamsville Main Street Study Update
As part of the work for Density by Design, the City will be conducting the update to the Williamsville Main Street Study. Staff will be completing a land use planning study of the policy and zoning framework with respect to angular plane and the allowance for where taller buildings are permitted within the corridor. There will also be a detailed transportation model and study completed for the corridor and a review of the available servicing capacity.
Back in May of this year, Council passed an interim control by-law for the Williamsville Main Street corridor prohibiting the intensification of lands within the study area with anything in excess of what is permitted by the current zoning by-law. This was to allow time for the work outlined above to be completed, without the submission of any applications for large-scale developments that are not already in keeping with the requirements of the zoning by-law.
The Planning Act permits interim control by-laws to be in place for one year, with the possibility of an additional one year extension. Given this tight timeframe, it is important that the work for the Williamsville Main Street proceed as quickly as possible. The work is being managed by staff in the Planning Division, with support from staff in Transportation Services and a team from Dillon Consulting for the Williamsville transportation model. This work has been incorporated into the scope of the Density by Design Issues and Options Report and will be proceeding as part of this project.
North King’s Town (NKT) Secondary Plan
The North King's Town Secondary Plan for the Inner Harbour and Old Industrial Areas of the city just north of the downtown involves the completion of a number of technical studies. Work has already been undertaken for NKT on a draft land use and density plan and a draft cultural heritage study, as well as some of the required transportation modelling for the NKT transportation plan. Some of the early results from the NKT transportation work were used to remove the southern portion of the proposed Wellington Street Extension from the recent update to the City’s Development Charges By-Law.
The staff and consulting team that is working on the NKT transportation model is also the same team that is responsible for the work being done for the Williamsville transportation model. Re-focusing our efforts on Williamsville in the short term to meet the timelines associated with the interim control by-law will unfortunately mean that the transportation work, and subsequently the revised land use plan, for the NKT Secondary Plan will be on hold for a little while. However, work will continue on finalizing the cultural heritage study for NKT, as well as the draft servicing study.
New City-wide Zoning By-Law
The City has five zoning by-laws covering various portions of the municipality. These by-laws were prepared in the 1970s and 1990s, before amalgamation in 1998. The City is in the process of preparing a new City-wide Zoning By-Law to consolidate, update and replace the separate, outdated zoning by-laws. The zoning framework will support the realization of the vision for growth established within the City's Official Plan. The first draft of the new City-wide Zoning By-Law was released to the public in October 2016. It is anticipated that the second draft will be released in 2020, followed by Council approval in 2021.
The work plans presented by these studies involve an ambitious amount of work that is being undertaken by staff in the Planning Division, along with support from staff in other City departments and a number of consulting firms. Each of the studies will be offering opportunities for members of the community to engage with the project teams and offer input and feedback on the work being done. I look forward to seeing how the work on each of these projects progresses, and would encourage anyone interested in being involved to stay engaged through the City’s Get Involved Kingston online platform.