On the evening of February 21, members of WellingtonX met with representatives from IBI Group and Patry Inc. (Mark Touw and Rob Gibson), at their invitation, to learn about Kingston developer Jay Patry’s proposal for the Davis Tannery site. It was an informative meeting.
The plan is not new: as some of you will remember, it was developed and proposed to the City in 2014. But Patry only acquired the tannery lands from Rideau Renewal in fall 2017. This week he released a slightly revised plan which has been submitted for various approvals – a process which requires a public meeting to be held in City Hall on March 8 at 6:30 p.m.
Here is what the development would look like:
Patry proposes to build 1500 units (80% rental, 20% condos) plus some commercial space in four blocks of 6-story wooden-frame buildings to occupy 9 out of 13 hectares of the waterfront site. Each unit will have 1.25 parking spots in above-ground lots “wrapped” by buildings. Because of the extreme toxicity of the former industrial site, major remediation will have to take place and the whole developed part will be capped with clay. There will be amenities such as pools, and Patry is proposing that the Rowing Club move a little north to be part of his project. There is a setback along the waterfront, as required because of municipal and provincial “ribbon of life” policies. River Street and two other entrances at the western side will connect the development to the Wellington Street Extension.
Wait: say that again?
Yes, you read right: Mark Touw explained to us that for a development of this size, the Wellington Street Extension would need to be built. Indeed, Patry is counting on the construction of the WSE. He is going ahead seeking approvals before the North King’s Town Secondary Plan – initiated with the express purpose (see Council minutes of May 5, 2015) of finding alternatives to the WSE – is complete.
We know, and planning staff and consultants know, that the majority of those who have participated in the North King’s Town planning process are against the WSE [see here and here]. The Visioning Report from June 2017 states that “a large majority of people who provided comments during the Study were overwhelmingly opposed to building the proposed WSE,” and includes attention to other community concerns such as active transportation, heritage, greenspace, and affordable housing.
However, all we have so far with the NKT is its first phase: a pretty vision. The next phase of the Secondary Planning process, getting underway now, is where the rubber hits the road. Or the @#$% hits the fan. This is when we get into details about land use, transportation and infrastructure, and so on. The first public meetings are next week, February 28, 2:30-5 and 6-8:30, at the Legion on Montreal Street.
It’s tedious, sure, but it’s even more important we engage this time than it was in the first phase. We have to be there because we live here, and we want to continue to live here. We have to insist that a good plan be developed, and that it be respected. The tannery lands are only one part of the NKT area. We can’t get too focused on them because there are other sites and issues that need attention. Consultants and staff may advise us that we can’t discuss a project on private lands that is going through approval before the results of the planning exercise are complete. But the Patry proposal should remind us of the stakes of this planning process and why it’s so important to get it right. The Patry proposal is what we will get if we don’t get — and follow — a good plan. So, again: February 28, 2:30-5 and 6-8:30, at the Legion on Montreal Street — see more information here.
The March 8 special Planning Committee meeting (6:30 p.m., City Hall) is all about the Patry proposal — it’s the best occasion to speak directly to City Council and City staff and get into the full range of varied concerns about the future of the tannery lands. Public safety, for example (Patry estimates that 400,000 tonnes of soil would have to be remediated or removed from the site. Where is this contaminated soil going to go? Is it safe to disturb? How many thousands of truckloads of hazardous material would exit the site, and what impact would this activity have on the surrounding neighbourhood?). Habitat protection, waterfront naturalization, design, the need for more affordable housing, prioritizing transit and active transportation instead of adding 1800 cars onto nearby streets, and so on and so forth: lots of things to talk about.
The IBI representative did acknowledge that the developers expect several months of back and forth revisions over the proposal, and that the plan will and can change to some extent within the general framework of the existing proposal. Construction will likely continue over ten to fifteen years in four phases. Mark said that the existing road network would not suffice after the third phase. There are many changes required to make this proposal acceptable — but a bottom-line for Wellington X is that any development must be WSE-free.
At the March 8 meeting, we will remind the Planning Committee and Council that if approved as proposed, this project would preempt the due process of community-engaged planning. The Patry proposal presumes the construction of the Wellington Street Extension and, given that City Council promised full public consultation via an objective planning process on this issue, a hasty approval would undermine the very integrity of the Council.
Despite what some may think, WellingtonX is not opposed to development. What we do oppose is development imposed upon the residents — two-legged and four-legged — of North King’s Town. We look forward to working with others to preserve and grow our community. Please join us at one or both of the upcoming meetings.
— Laura Murray and Anne Lougheed