Williamsville Main Street Study
The planning and development department retained lead consultant Brook McIlroy Inc. to develop a study of the Williamsville Main Street, which is the 1.7 km portion of Princess Street between Division and the Bath Road/Concession intersection. The Williamsville Main Street is an area that has seen a great deal of change over the last few years.
The study examines existing land uses and redevelopment potential in the area, creates a concept plan and urban design guidelines for future development, and provides recommendations regarding transportation, servicing and the cultural heritage in the area.
The Williamsville Main Street Study was approved by Council on February 21, 2012.
Williamsville has three defined character areas that are addressed by the Study's Urban Design Guidelines:
- City Destination - this is the most westerly area defined by the two large medical buildings that make it a destination for the whole city.
- Community Destination - this area includes the nodes of Victoria, Nelson and Alfred Streets and is a prime area for redevelopment with a number of vacant and under-utilized sites.
- Gateway Area - this eastern-most part of the Main Street acts as a gateway to the downtown and Queen's University neighbourhoods and should continue with ground floor commercial development.
The Study's Urban Design Guidelines also recommend:
- a 1 metre setback for new buildings and 8 metre-wide rear lanes be used for loading/unloading and waste collection.
- A pedestrian clearway of 1.8 metres and a wider 1.2 metre boulevard to accommodate street furniture and trees.
- 3 metre-wide parking lanes.
- Sustainable design, including: improved storm water management and green roofs or use of non-reflective roofing materials. A Design Checklist is recommended for completion by applicants during the pre-consultation phase of development.
Cultural heritage resources
The cultural heritage sub-consultant, Bray Heritage, compiled an Overview of the Cultural Heritage Resources in the area, and two substantial appendices: a Chronology for the Study Area, and an Inventory of Buildings along Princess Street. Several buildings are identified as having potential heritage significance and it is recommended that they be added to the City's Register of Listed Properties.
Sub-consultant MMM Group's analysis showed that the intersection of Princess Street/Bath Road/Concession Street will likely require some mitigating measures in the long term (10 - 25 years). Express bus service has been approved for Princess Street, and will be implemented later in 2013. The analysis speaks to the impacts of this improved service.
It was concluded that the existing right-of-way of 20 metres is too limited to allow dedicated cycling lanes in addition to the other required uses. However, it is recommended the City consider reducing the width of the bump outs so there is more room for cyclists. The City may later examine a form of cycling lane in rush hour where the parking lanes cannot be used for parking, but become a cycling lane.
Further to the information presented in the study, Council passed a resolution asking staff to examine the feasibility of having dedicated cycling lanes in the Williamsville Main Street area as a pilot project for four years, by removing on-street parking from one side of the street.
Sub-consultant, McCormick Rankin Corp. (MRC) reviewed the impacts of redevelopment on different types of servicing and Utilities Kingston staff undertook additional modelling for the area for which MRC prepared the incremental loadings for both commercial and residential uses for a short-term scenario (5-10 years) and a long-term scenario (10-25 years). It was found:
- The existing gas infrastructure and water supply and distribution infrastructure are considered sufficient.
- Kingston Hydro electrical infrastructure is adequate, but at its limits. Required are: modifications to the 44kV distribution system; a new substation; and a new 15kV distribution system, totalling about $7 million.
- Sewershed A (covering the west end of the study area) requires upsizing a number of pipes to eliminate bottlenecks, sewer separation between Drayton Avenue and Smith Street, and constructing a bypass storage tank. No redevelopment should take place in the area of Sewershed B (covering the east end with an overlap from about Alfred Street to University Avenue) until the sewers are separated, which is planned within 10-25 years for an estimated cost of $2.5 million.
City staff recommend implementing the provisions of the Study, which will include documents such Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw Amendments, and a Community Improvement Plan to deal with brownfield sites, all of which require public consultation. Recognizing the concerns regarding servicing capacity, the City will continue to evaluate development applications as they are submitted based on their individual merits.
The public was offered a number of opportunities for input and the Study reflects the significant amount of interest and engagement by area residents and business owners. Public feedback was collected at:
- a public meeting on Oct. 3, 2011, at St. Luke's Anglican Church included a presentation of the draft design guidelines which were posted here for comment until Oct. 21.
- a charette was held on May 4, 2011 at St. Luke's Anglican Church.
- an initial public open house on the study was held on April 6, 2011.
Historically, the area has served the travelling public, and there have been large tracts of land used for auto-related uses, especially car sales lots. Today, many of the former large auto-related services have moved to other areas of the City, and there are a number of vacant and underutilized properties along the Williamsville Main Street. Given the area's location within the Princess Street Corridor and the intensification policies in the new Official Plan, there is an opportunity for the creation of additional residential units and commercial spaces. However, intensification projects will have to take into consideration compatibility issues with adjacent land uses, which will affect the scale, height, and massing of future development along the main street, as well as the capacity of the municipal infrastructure to support increased densities. The goal is to create a vibrant main street that is pedestrian-friendly and transit-supportive, and that provides services to the surrounding neighbourhoods.