What are community benefits?
Under the Planning Act, the City may allow increased height or density on a site in exchange for facilities, services or something else that will benefit the community.
This exchange of increased height and/or density in return for community benefits, otherwise referred to as "density bonusing," is a powerful planning instrument available to municipalities. The process is regulated by Section 37 of the Planning Act and allows the City to approve site specific zoning applications that request an increase in height and/or density, in exchange for providing "facilities, services or matters" (community benefits).
To take advantage of Section 37 of the Planning Act, municipalities must have enabling policies in their Official Plan. The City's Official Plan contains these policies in Section 9 Administration & Implementation (see sections 9.5.25 to 9.5.30).
The City has used the enabling policies three times and would like to continue to secure community benefits in a fair, clear, transparent and predictable manner. A draft set of Community Benefit Guidelines has been prepared and is now available for public review and comment.
Creating guidelines for community benefits
Community Benefit Guidelines will help evaluate applications seeking to build projects that surpass the height and/or density provisions of the Zoning Bylaw. To support these guidelines, amendments are proposed to the policies of the Official Plan. The City-initiated Official Plan amendment will be presented for public feedback as required by the Planning Act.
Once complete, the guidelines will provide a framework for the consistent and transparent use of the community benefits section of the Planning Act (Section 37).
How community benefits fit in the planning process
City planning staff begin discussions about community benefits as early as the pre-application stage - when developers propose projects that exceed the height and density provisions for the property. These early conversations help to ensure that applicants are aware of the City's intention to seek community benefits under Section 37 of the Planning Act.
Affordable housing, parkland, public parking and public art or performance spaces are a few types of benefits that may be considered. Community benefits are finalized through a council-approved, site-specific amending zoning bylaw that implements a proposed development.
See DASH – the Development Approval and Services Hub – to see where planning applications have been submitted in Kingston. DASH offers information on the location and status of these applications.
An open house and two workshops were held to review the City's proposed Community Benefit Guidelines and supporting Official Plan amendments. Another workshop will be held on August 23. While not required under the Planning Act, this consultation is being used to hone the guidelines to ensure they reflect the community's interests. A summary sheet for each meeting shows what we have heard so far.
- Community Groups Workshop – August 23
- Development Community Workshop – August 23
- Community Groups Workshop – August 2
- Public Open House – July 25
- Development Community Workshop – July 18
- A draft version of the guidelines was presented at an open house on July 25, 2017.
- Community groups were invited to join staff to discuss the Community Benefit Guidelines at two workshops held Wednesday, Aug. 2 and Wednesday, Aug. 23.
- Offer feedback on proposed changes to the City's draft Community Benefit Guidelines at the planning committee meeting on November 2
Feedback on the draft guidelines is also welcome by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
A statutory public meeting for the supporting Official Plan amendments will be held. The date for the public meeting has not yet been determined but will be part of a regularly scheduled planning committee meeting at City Hall.
Following the statutory process and the open house, a comprehensive report will be presented to planning committee recommending the Official Plan amendments and guidelines. The planning committee will report their recommendations to council.
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