In collaboration with City Planning staff and consultant Brent Toderian we facilitated a number of public events as part of the Phase 1 Engagement Plan for the Density by Design: Kingston’s Mid-rise and Tall Buildings Policy project. Over the course of the week we were able to connect with 200 + people on this important project.

At these events, we provided an overview of the context for the project, which includes sustainability, climate change, housing supply, challenges with the existing policy, heritage, transportation, strengthening areas of the City, unpredictable energy costs and changing demographics. All of these areas are interconnected and give us direction for ensuring that the policies meant to direct the design of future mid-rise and tall buildings are built with Kingston context in mind. 

Planning consultant Brent Toderian was in town to assist the project team in providing education to attendees about the various design elements of mid-rise and tall buildings, including height, thickness/width, orientation, stepbacks, and the importance of ground floor form and function. The presentation provided at the link below, which includes audio/video, explains each design consideration referenced above and explains why in-ward growth is a key element of sustainable city-building.


A new study completed recently in British Columbia links human health with the walkability of neighbourhoods, highlighting the importance of our work on this project and others that encourage increases in the density of development to support active transportation. The connection between building walkable, mobility-focused cities and the link to community health was addressed as part of last week’s sessions and found in staff’s presentation.  City Council’s declaration of a climate change emergency and goal to become Canada’s most sustainable city cannot be achieved unless we make smart city planning decisions that integrate multiple ways for people to move within and around the City (walking, biking, transit) and de-emphasize the movement of people by cars.

We heard through our public consultation last week that some of you are concerned about the City’s focus on taller buildings. I want to correct the impression that we are only looking at mid-rise and tall buildings to increase density. In fact, we have a number of initiatives that are ongoing to promote increasing density in more ground-oriented forms of development as well. For example, we are in the process of amending the planning rules to allow secondary suites to be added to residential properties and are working at supporting planning applications that integrate a variety of ground-oriented forms within a residential area including semi-detached, stacked townhomes, townhouses and small apartment buildings in strategic locations

This project will provide Official Plan policies to direct the development of mid-rise and tall buildings from a design perspective, because at present the OP does not do so sufficiently.  As with the other forms of development contemplated by the Official Plan, we will be weaving in the importance of cultural heritage into design considerations to ensure that the character that is so unique to Kingston endures and new development is able to co-exist in a compatible manner.

I encourage you to join the conversation at the City's Get Involved page. There you can receive project updates, ask questions and share ideas with the project team.

You can also email comments directly to Andrea Gummo, project manager at In particular, please send the answers to the two questions below by May 15, 2019. We asked these questions of attendees last week, and want to get as many responses as possible as we enter the next phase of the project. The presentation I mentioned above will help provide background needed on the two questions, and I strongly encourage you watch it and share with your friends and neighbours.


  1. What Kingston challenges, goals, or values do you most want to see reflected in our new approach?
  2. What do you think are the most important aspects of mid-rise and tall building design, and how would you like them handled in our new approach?

Updated April 29, 2019

I’ve received numerous concerned messages from members of the public regarding the cancellation of the Limestone Art and Craft Show this weekend . I do want to take this opportunity to explain what happened and why this decision was made.

The City’s business permit application process requires that an event meet set standards before a permit is issued.  Part of this process involves a review of the application by the City and other authorities. In the event that one or more of the regulating authorities declines to approve the application, the permit cannot be issued. In this instance, the permit application for the Limestone Art Show was declined based on the standards outlined in the City’s Zoning Bylaw. The property is not zoned to allow events of this nature.

The owners of the Kingston 1000 Islands Sportsplex were informed by the City of Kingston some months ago that events of this nature are not permitted at their site. The Limestone Art and Craft Show event organizer, TM Productions, appear to have signed the contract with the Kingston 1000 Islands Sportsplex on March 29th, 2019. The City understands the impact that a cancellation such as this can have on the local artists and other residents planning to attend this weekend’s event and it is unfortunate that prior to signing a contact, TM Productions were not informed by the Kingston 1000 Islands Sportsplex that events like this are not permitted.

The City received a licensing application two weeks after the contract was signed by TM Productions and as per our normal practice the application was reviewed by a number of departments. The permit was denied this week.

When an event occurs without the appropriate approvals, the City will review the situation and may pursue one of a number of different legal avenues. These processes range from negotiation to prosecution of an infraction of the law. These processes are confidential until finalized for the sake of all involved parties. If a matter is made public through being before the court the City may not be at liberty to comment.

We can confirm that the Dec. 2018 Artfest Kingston Christmas Art and Craft Show and the Kingston Home and Garden & Kingston Boat Show that took place in March of this year were held without obtaining the required City approvals. We can also confirm that the City has been working with the owners of this property to achieve a successful outcome which is in compliance on this matter.

The City wants to support business owners first and foremost, and it has historically worked with applicants on zoning matters to ensure that compliance can be achieved for future events. The City makes sure that business owners are aware of their obligations and of available resources in order to avoid issues such as zoning non-compliance.  Please note that ensuring a venue complies with zoning rules is the responsibility of the host facility and the producers of the event are responsible for acquiring the appropriate permits to conduct the event.

If you’re ever unsure about whether the event you’re planning to attend has the appropriate permits, don’t hesitate to contact the licensing division at or 613-546-4291 ext. 3150.  Ensuring an event or business is properly permitted validates the enterprise and assures the public and participants that required standards have been met.

Come out to an Evening with Kingston's Poets Laureate on April 30 at the KFPL Central Branch.

Kingston has always been a literary city and it has been claimed the first Canadian novel was published here in the 1820s.  Today, Kingston is home to a great number of published writers and it also plays host every year to one of Canada’s favorite literary events, Kingston Writersfest.  Reading and writing is definitely something worth celebrating and, in 2010, the City of Kingston followed the example set by other Canadian cities and established a poet laureate program for the first time.

Did you know that Kingston, Ont., is the Canadian city that loves to read the most, according to

The tradition of naming a poet laureate dates back to ancient Greece and came to prominence in 17th century Britain. Canada also has a tradition of naming poets laureate whose role it is to promote literature, culture and language and to encourage the enjoyment of literature and writing overall.  The term “laureate” itself also dates back to ancient Greece when laurel wreathes were placed on the heads of people who were being honoured for outstanding achievements in things such as the arts, sports and politics.  

The City of Kingston’s Poet Laureate program reflects the City’s belief that the literary arts deserve our support and recognizes the achievements of a local poet whose work exhibits excellence and resonates with the people of this community.  In November 2018, the City of Kingston announced that Jason Heroux was to be appointed Kingston’s third Poet Laureate for a four-year term, building on the work of our past Poets Laureate, Eric Folsom and Helen Humphreys.  In his role as Poet Laureate, Jason Heroux will be creating new work inspired by Kingston while also fostering creative writing in and about the city.

Poet Laureate Jason Heroux

Jason Heroux, himself, is the author of four books of poetry, including Hard Work Cheering Up Sad Machines (2016) and three novels, including Amusement Park of Constant Sorrow that was published last year.  He was born in Montreal and moved to Kingston in 1990 to study at Queen’s University.  His works have been translated into French, Italian and Arabic and it has also appeared in several anthologies.  When asked about what he aspires to achieve during his term as Poet Laureate, Jason Heroux has remarked: “I hope to explore new ways of introducing poetry to the hearts and minds of the community, and look forward to celebrating the diverse texture of Kingston’s past, present, and future literary arts.”

Event: April is National Poetry Month

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the City of Kingston in partnership with the Kingston Frontenac Public Library has organized an event to recognize the achievements of outgoing Poet Laureate Helen Humphreys and to welcome the incoming Poet Laureate Jason Heroux.  They will be joined by Kingston’s first Poet Laureate Eric Folsom and, together, they will be reading selections from their work.  This event will also include readings by three emerging local poets Ky Pearce, Ashley-Elizabeth Best and Zoe Coulter and it will feature live music performed by Darryl Bryan.  This free and public event will take place on Tuesday April 30 from 7:00 to 9 p.m. at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library, Central Branch, and more information can be found online through the City of Kingston website.

One of the main purposes of the Grand OnStage program presented by the City of Kingston is to provide Kingston audiences with opportunities to see artists from across Canada and around the world.  We love having the chance to share these artists with our audiences and we also try to create opportunities for people to meet and learn from these artists as well.  Often those opportunities includes pre- and post-performance talks and sometimes they include master classes or school visits.

Peggy Baker residency

Sometimes we’re able to go even further and organize what are called “creative residencies”.  These opportunities are different because they involve bringing an artist to Kingston over an extended period of time to create new work or to connect with Kingston residents through workshops and performances.  These kinds of creative residencies first began in 2013 when RUBBERBANDance from Montreal came to Kingston to create a new work and continued in 2014 when Dreamwalker Dance Company helped to create a collaborative work called The Whole Shebang that was performed as part of the opening of the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning.

Contemporary dance has been an important focus of these creative residences and, this year, marks the end of a four-year residency with renowned Canadian dancer Peggy Baker whose company will be presenting a brand new work called who we are in the dark at the Grand Theatre on April 9.  This relationship first began in August 2015 when the Cultural Services Department brought Peggy Baker to Kingston to start of a three-year summer residency at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning.

During that first year, Peggy Baker worked with a group of local dancers and dance enthusiasts to rehearse and perform a piece called move.  Over 150 people attended the final performance at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning and the participants spoke about how the rehearsal process and the performance together demonstrated how powerful and important it was to be able to work with one of Canada’s best-known dancers to create something so meaningful they could share with a local audience.

Peggy Baker returned in 2016 to work with the community to present two pieces called FLUX and FLUXDelux at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning and in Springer Market Square. Using a simple set of instructions to guide movement, Peggy Baker created a fun and fascinating adventure in action and interaction for community members of all ages. Once set in motion, participants created an ever-evolving piece of group choreography. Her 2016 residency also included a free public performance of the piece five poems for body and breath at the Grand Theatre.

In the final year of her residency, in 2017, Peggy Baker expanded her working process to include vocal and musical elements in addition to dance.  In partnership with musician and singer Fides Krucker, Peggy Baker shared movement and music workshops with local seniors’ residences. Together, Peggy and Fides also mentored a cast of local youth and adult performers to present chorus, a work that integrated dance, music and vocal scores. You can read more about this experience here

Now, in 2019, Peggy Baker returns to Kingston with her company Peggy Baker Dance Projects to present a new work she has been created in collaboration with musicians Sarah Neufeld and Jeremy Gara from Arcade Fire. This piece, which recently premiered in Toronto, is supercharged with live music and explores shifting identities, betrayals, secrets, and intimacies that play out in the dark in a truly striking fashion.  As a regular subscriber to dance performances at the Grand Theatre it is exciting to have seen how our city’s relationship with Peggy Baker has evolved over the past four years and it is especially exciting to be able to share her latest work, which is one of her most ambitious in terms of scale and scope.

The City of Kingston acknowledges the Ontario Arts Council and their support for bringing Peggy Baker to Kingston. 

Kingston has long been known as a city that is culturally vibrant.  In fact, when I first started working with the City of Kingston almost 10 years ago, there was already so much going on in terms of music, theatre, art, literature, film, craft and more.  The level of activity that already existed was remarkable but it had also become clear there was more the City could do to highlight these activities, to get more people interested and involved and to demonstrate how the arts could benefit the community more broadly.

Culture is about art and creativity but it’s also about so much more.  It’s a force that unites people and creates a sense of pride and shared identity.  It’s about values, beliefs, customs, languages and traditions and it’s also has economic benefits in terms of employment, innovation, economic development and tourism because people seek out places to live and visit that are known to be culturally vibrant.  This requires work and that is why the City of Kingston adopted its first-ever culture plan in 2010.

The purpose of the Kingston Culture Plan was to create a sustainable, authentic, long-term vision for cultural vitality in Kingston.  The Plan was built around three focus areas that included Stories, Places and Capacity and outlined strategic directions, initiatives and recommendations for action and an implementation timeline.  It also identified opportunities for collaboration among City departments in support of municipal objectives as well as possibilities for connections between cultural organizations and local stakeholders to achieve outcomes that are mutually beneficial.

Cover image of Kingston Culture Plan

That work has been underway for almost a decade now and much has been accomplished at the City and within the community that has helped to propel Kingston forward as a community that punches above its weight in terms of culture and cultural vitality.  Some of this work is more obvious like the growth of the Grand OnStage program, the renovation of the J.K. Tett Centre, increased arts and heritage funding and the creation of a public art master plan.  However, a lot of this work is less obvious like the fact that culture in all its many different forms is now the driving force behind Kingston’s tourism brand “fresh made daily”.

Coffee & Company employees

It’s important to share all the great things that are going on here in Kingston and that’s the point of this blog.  To explore the work the City of Kingston is doing on its own and in collaboration with people across the community to leverage the arts, heritage and culture in ways that benefit as many people as possible.  It’s a fact that culture is important to Canadians with 86% of the population attending arts activities, 77% reading a book, 70% visiting a heritage site and 50% making art.  Culture also accounts for 3% of Canada’s GDP as well as well as 3.5% of all jobs in Canada. Its impact is significant nationally and that’s increasingly true at a local level here in Kingston and that’s what we look forward to exploring through this blog.

Cultural vitality as the experience of the arts, heritage and culture in all its diversity. Follow our posts and you're welcome to leave a comment below.

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