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.
Timber frame mid-rise buildings offer cities the ability to increase density more cost-effective buildings while also achieving a lower carbon footprint that steel and concrete construction. As we develop actions as a City in response to the declaration of a ‘climate change emergency’, timber frame buildings emerge as an important consideration.
As noted in an article by ReNew Canada, timber construction is one such material that is undergoing a revival globally, and is demonstrating its potential in a range of situations. In Canada, some of the best examples of timber construction can be seen in British Columbia. For instance, the Brock Commons at the University of British Columbia, at 18 storeys, was the tallest timber structure in the world in 2017. It used what’s being dubbed “mass timber” or “tall wood” construction, which makes use of sustainable engineered wood products including cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glulam.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has released a Tall Wood Building reference for construction of wood buildings up to six storeys, and an amendment to the National Building Code allowing for even taller wood structures is expected in 2020.
Using current mass timber construction practices for buildings up to six storeys offers a number of benefits:
- Wood is a green building material. Wood is a renewable resource that can be locally sourced. The production of CLT produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and less air and water pollution that other building materials.
- Many will remember the midtown fire that started in a woodframe building under construction. Mass timber building products are tested for flammability. CLT, for example, must demonstrate a two-hour fire resistance rating in order to meet American Society for Testing Materials standards.
- Mass timber buildings are cost-effective and can be constructed quickly (limiting disruption to the neighbourhood). Most importantly, wood performs better than most building materials over the lifetime of the building, resulting in potentially reduced maintenance costs.
- Exposed wood has also been seen to lower stress and blood pressure and offer psychological benefits.
We can expect to see more mass timber structures being built in Kingston as local builders seek to enjoy these benefits and these fire-resistant wood products become more available in Ontario and will continue to monitor the national movement toward mass timbre and any legislative changes that may be coming forward in the near future.
Kingston was recently named one of the best 20 places to invest in Canada by Site Selection Magazine.
The magazine bases its choices on its database of facility investment projects pulled from across Canada. Those projects must represent at least $1 million invested, at least 20 new jobs or at least 20,000 new sq. ft. of space. That means Kingston was chosen based on the investment associated with these qualifying projects.
Many residents will realize this success is based largely on Kingston securing the Feihe Canada Royal Milk and Frulact plants. On its own, Feihe Canada Royal Milk represents $300 million in new investment in Kingston and, once it is completed, will host 350 new jobs.
Planning is just one of the factors that helped attract this foreign direct investment to our community. We are proud that Kingston was able to accommodate these businesses as it had designated areas in business parks zoned for their purposes. In other words, the City had planned to attract industry by creating areas where it could be aptly situated.
So what does it mean to be named on Site Selection Magazine’s list? Kingston will now be featured in the International Foreign Direct Investment Summit alongside Toronto, Halifax, London (ON), Vancouver and Hamilton this October in Huzhou, China.
My name is Michael Jaunkalns, and I am currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Science program at Queen’s University, studying Mechanical Engineering. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend the summer working as the Project Controls intern for Kiewit, the contractor for the Third Crossing Project. This role allowed me to gain insight into various aspects of this project, including project management, field operations, stakeholder interfacing, and community engagement. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Kiewit and working on this project. I consider myself very lucky to have spent the summer with such a competent and enthusiastic team and look forward to continuing my relationship with my coworkers in the future.
My wonderful experience this summer was further amplified by my renewed relationship I gained with Kingston itself. As a Queen’s student, much of my previous time in Kingston was spent on and around campus, living in the student housing area, and heading down Princess street on the weekends for food and shopping. This summer I have enjoyed experiencing more of what Kingston has to offer, from finding new restaurants in the city’s west end to visiting the job site on the east side of the Cataraqui River, I have been able to more fully engage with and appreciate the city. My summer here has further instilled in me the love and respect for Kingston I have developed as a student.
This project takes is being delivered using the integrated project delivery (IPD) model. This is different from other typical project models like design-build or design-bid-build, and involves the City of Kingston (the owner), Kiewit (the contractor), and Hatch/Systra (the consultant) working in a collaborative partnership to deliver the project. This means constant meetings and communication between all parties over the entire course of the project. I was able to take part in some of these meetings, and I was extremely impressed by the competence of each party and the respect the entire team has for the City of Kingston, its population and its physical environment.
I am happy to know the project is in under the very best of management and I am proud to have been a part of such a significant project for the city. I look forward to being able to visit the bridge in the future.
An interesting project we’re currently working on within the Cultural Services department is Your Stories, Our Histories that launched last September. Kingston is often recognized as a city steeped in history and the Kingston Culture Plan approved back in 2010 made the case that Kingston’s powerful historical narrative was perhaps its most compelling cultural asset. History is indeed central to how people perceive and experience our city but it has also become increasingly important to recognize that Kingston has been shaped by a multiplicity of histories, not all of which are well known and represented.
History is complex and ever-changing and that means our relationship to places, people and events evolves over time as new information comes to light and as attitudes and thinking change. In Kingston, people tend to know that Fort Frontenac was settled by the French in 1673 and that the city was established as the First Capital of a United Canada in 1841. But we are perhaps less well versed in what went before and what came after that has shaped where we are today. And, of course, Kingston is also closely associated with the life and legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald who has become a focus of much debate in recent years and that is something the City of Kingston is committed to addressing as part of Your Stories, Our Histories.
Starting in September 2018, the Cultural Services department began actively collecting feedback regarding how the City of Kingston should approach the challenge of interpreting the history of Sir John A. Macdonald in the 21st century, with a particular focus on his relationship to Kingston that became his adopted hometown. What we’ve discovered over the past year is that there are many differing ideas, perspectives and opinions that exist and it has been especially interesting to track conversations that are taking place across the country and at all levels of government.
My colleague Jennifer Campbell who works as the manager of cultural heritage for the City of Kingston recently attended a conference in Ottawa organized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada titled “Commemorating Canada”. The need to make space for more voices to be heard was a major topic of discussion at the conference as was the need to provide increased opportunities for Canadians to reflect on and contribute to how our histories are being told and to ensuring that the stories we share are more broadly inclusive and represent a greater diversity of experiences.
As part of this conference, the Board shared its most recent Systems Plan that acknowledges in a very direct way the many factors at play when it comes to commemorating the past. The Systems Plan also includes an exploration of what it refers to as ‘Key Practices for Public History’ that are worth thinking about in relation to local history and heritage and especially when considering a topic that has become a focus of debate like Sir John A. Macdonald. In discussion, Jennifer and I agreed these Key Practices work well as challenge questions for all of us as a community to consider as we delve into the Sir John A. Macdonald debate and consider how best to formulate a Cultural Heritage Strategy for the City of Kingston.
- Craft Big Stories – How do we value Kingston history and the history of this region prior to the arrival of European settlers while also connecting Kingston to the larger history of Canada and the world?
- Address Conflict and Controversy – How can we directly address conflict and controversy, understanding how and why people disagree and how our values can shift through time?
- Seek opportunities for Indigenous Peoples to share and communicate their own history on their own terms – How do we make space in Kingston for this to happen and how do we ensure a diversity of Indigenous perspectives is also included?
- Realize that history is written from a worldview – How can we acknowledge and find strength in our increasingly diverse community while also acknowledging that many of our assumptions and values have been shaped by a history of colonization and its legacies?
- Share Authority – How do we work together, capturing a diversity of viewpoints, to build our relationship to our history? How can we create space for traditional knowledge and other world views?
- Emphasize a full range of voices, perspectives and experiences – How do we bring new and divergent voices to the table to understand more fully whose histories have and have not been adequately recognized and celebrated?
- Acknowledge that humans have touched all heritage places, including parks and natural areas – How do we appropriately consider that this land has been home to people for centuries, people who lived and whose descendants continue to live in close connection to the land and the natural world?
- Recognize that power dynamics affect understandings of heritage places – Decisions made in the past may or may not reflect current values and attitudes. How do we understand, acknowledge and interpret how we got to where we are today based on decisions made in the past?
- Explore the spectrum of powerful memories and meanings attached to heritage places – How do we interpret and share with residents and visitors that the meaning of specific sites, monuments, commemorations and spaces has shifted and that they now mean different things to different people?
- Appreciate that interpretations of the past are constantly evolving – As the System Plan says “[h]istory can always be interrogated and no one ever has the last word”. How can we work together to ensure we are being vigilant in terms of our understanding of history and the fact that its meaning is continuously shifting?
Over time, it will be interesting to see how the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada actions its new Systems Plan. It will also be interesting for us here in Kingston to consider these same ideas as we explore our own relationship to local historic sites, places, persons and events. How might we apply these ten Key Practices in our community in an effort to challenge ourselves to think differently?
As a next step, in connection with Your Stories, Our Histories, the City of Kingston will host a speakers’ panel to discuss how best to share the history and legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald. The event takes place Sept. 17 from 7-9 p.m. at the Grand Theatre at 218 Princess St. Three speakers will consider how we, as a community, can interpret and share the life and legacy of John A. Macdonald in ways that reflect the multiplicity of ideas, concerns and perspectives that have emerged in recent years. Our panelists are Lee Maracle, Charlotte Gray and Christopher Moore along with Bob Watts who will moderate both the panel and the Q&A to follow.
The ideas shared at this event are meant to spark ideas and foster discussion and exploration. Our intent is to look at how we can add to our understanding of history and heritage at a local level and develop a more inclusive take on history that avoids any erasure or removals. To capture those ideas, the City will host a series of community feedback workshops on Oct.16 and 17 that will provide opportunities to continue this community conversation.
I’m glad we can come together in this moment to wrestle with these important topics in a meaningful way with the goal of building a Cultural Heritage Strategy for our city that reflects a diversity of histories, experiences and perspectives.