A Letter from Jamie Swift

Hello Kingston City Hall People:

It would be hard to count the studies, books, films, and reports that show the essence of what Canadian journalist Charles Montgomery calls “the happy city.” That’s what Montgomery calls his recent book. Successful cities have stopped emphasizing automotive traffic. They have turned their backs on car-dependent sprawl. They have embraced the ever more urgent need to “transform our lives through urban design” (a variation on the subtitle of Montgomery’s book.)

Kingston is being presented with a great opportunity to embrace a sane and happy future. We can do this by applying the spirit of our Official Plan and its emphasis on density promotion. We can do this by making the decision to stop the Wellington Street Extension. This forward-looking move will show that we are willing to do more than apply adjectives (“sustainable”) to our community. It will prove that we’re willing to walk (pun intended) the walk and not just talk….well, you know.

Adopting a more thoughtful and environmentally-conscious approach to urban design is now more necessary than ever. Global climate chaos threatens to destroy the planet. We are NOT free to ignore this cataclysmic threat by blindly adopting a business-as usual approach and spending scarce public dollars on an unnecessary arterial road through a waterfront park.

In 2011, just after I joined a group of fellow Kingstonians in starting DARN (the Downtown Action Revitalization Network…check out the hundreds of new “I love” Valentine’s posters we’ve just put up at downtown businesses) , I wrote an article for our neighbourhood association’s blog. Please take a moment to read it.

We need to improve, not hinder, waterfront access. As Kingston implements the downtown densification priorities of our Official Plan, the increased numbers of centre city residents will need more, not less, parkland. A key reason for densification is decreasing car dependence. Densification makes economic sense — it’s cheaper to provide utility services for residents. Why spend money on an unnecessary road when we’re trying to save money through wiser planning measures?

I urge the city to put this bad idea behind us, once and for all.

Yours sincerely
Jamie Swift

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