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. 

Pamphlet and paper

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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. 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?
  8. 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?
  9. 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?
  10. 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.

Sir John A. 360

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.

On Aug. 12, 2019, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court issued a decision on the motion for leave to appeal for the 223 Princess St. Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) decision. The Court decision granted the property’s developers, IN8 Developments Inc., the right to appeal the LPAT ruling which did not support the development of a mixed-use building at this location. The original LPAT hearing for this matter was held on November 9, 2018 and the date for the Divisional Court hearing has not yet been set.

Explaining the Divisional Court’s Decision

The Divisional Court is one of the three branches of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (the others being Small Claims Court and Family Court). The Divisional Court is an appeals Court and one of its mandates is to review appeals emerging from the decisions of administrative tribunals, such as the LPAT.

The Court’s decision to grant leave to appeal was based on the following question:

Did the Tribunal err in its interpretation and application of the Official Plan (OP) and its policies by:

  • prioritizing one OP policy (heritage) over (revitalization and intensification);

  • considering the provisions of the Zoning By-law and the studies and guidelines referred to in the OP;

  • concluding that the OP policies impose height, density and angular plane limitations on this Site even in the absence in the OP making those limitations specifically applicable to this Site; and

  • concluding that the development was not in the public interest?

The Court did not grant the right of appeal on the following questions:  

  • Did the Tribunal correctly have regard to the decisions of Council pursuant to subsection 2.1(1) of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, C.P.13?

  • Does the Tribunal’s decision incorrectly rely on inapplicable studies and guidelines?

  • Does the decision incorrectly assess the test for amending a zoning by-law?

In summary, the Divisional Court determined that the LPAT’s decision raised a question of law, that there was reason to doubt the correctness of the LPAT decision with respect to that question of law, and that the question of law raised was of sufficient general or public importance to merit the attention of the Divisional Court. 

What happens next?

At the Divisional Court, a leave to appeal to the Court acts as an automatic stay on the LPAT decision. This means that no steps can be taken to enforce the LPAT decision until the appeal is fully resolved (after the appeal is completed).

An appeal may be dismissed or allowed. If the appeal is allowed, the Court will set aside the LPAT decision and may order a new hearing before the LPAT, or in certain circumstances, substitute its own decision. If the appeal is dismissed, the original LPAT decision will stand and the automatic stay will be lifted.

Because only the appellant and respondent are entitled to participate in a Divisional Court hearing, the City will not be part of this process. The hearing will also be limited to the one issue outlined above: the interpretation of the Official Plan and its associated policies.  

This decision once again demonstrates the need for clarity in the City’s Official Plan and its associated policies. This is a major pillar for the City’s ongoing consultation on mid-rise and tall building design policies. Learn more by visiting the City’s Get Involved Platform.   

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