2016: The Year in Review

rideau-landscape

Well, that was a year!

Wellington X started 2016 recommending revisions to the City’s Request for Proposals for hiring a consulting team for the North King’s Town Secondary Plan, and ended it heartened by the community response to the DIALOG consulting team’s draft report. Over 65 letters to the City asking for changes to the report were cc’d to Wellington X!

In between there were highs and lows:

Canvassing – Sayyida Jaffer, Justine Scala, Colin Khan and other volunteers enjoyed going door-to-door and talking with people in North King’s Town, both in 2015 and 2016. They were gratified to find how much people want to talk and are already engaged, and by how many are already opposed to the Wellington Street Extension.

Land Swap with Weston Bakeries – Council’s approval of the land swap with Weston Bakeries, in which the entire width of the WSE was purchased for parts of the northern section, surprised the DIALOG consultants. This occurred during the initial planning stage of the NKT Secondary Plan and restricts the potential for alternatives to the WSE. More recently, other attempts to jump the gun on the NKSP include the ABNA proposal to move the Outer Station, and the City’s idea of ending golfing in Belle Park. We will continue to stand against any proposals that pre-empt the Secondary Planning process.

Changes to the Official Plan – community members- including Anne Lougheed, Mike Cole-Hamilton, Julian Scala and Vicki Schmolka- slogged through four drafts of the City’s Official Plan and made presentations and wrote letters to Council and Staff. This resulted in important changes to language in the OP about the WSE and protection of the waterfront, including:

  • Recognition in the transportation section of the OP that a Secondary Planning Process for NKT will examine the feasibility of the WSE
  • Changed wording in the OP’s treatment of the Woolen MiIl area to no longer include and describe the WSE as an important link to the downtown
  • Corrected wording to state that the UNESCO World Heritage Designation protects all of the Rideau Canal north of the Causeway as an Environmental Protection Area with a 30-metre wide setback from the waterfront, not only the section north of Belle Park
  • Improved language with regard to the 30-metre wide Ribbon of Life along the waterfront
  • Wording changed to refer to road widening and extensions as “projects” rather than “improvements”

De-greening of Doug Fluhrer Park – DFP has changed from mostly green to mostly pavement and gravel with the construction of the K&P trail and the City’s gravelling of the lane along it.

DIALOG’s draft NKT Report – The draft NKT Secondary Plan Visioning Report misrepresents the results of DIALOG’s and the City’s community consultations, which clearly showed that nearly all of the public are against the WSE. As well, the draft report does not require sufficient protection of the waterfront or reflect that the secondary planning process is happening, in part, to determine alternatives to the WSE. More generally, it seems to reflect little vision for the integrity of this diverse and environmentally sensitive area of the city with a long industrial and residential history.

Community Engagement! – At community and City events throughout the spring, summer and fall, the community attended and spoke loudly in favour of waterfront and cultural heritage protection, environmental sustainability, active transportation and social equity, and against the WSE. People made Tshirts, bought Tshirts, and wore Tshirts (thanks Barb Danielewski!), and helped create an ongoing big banner designed and guided by Nancy Douglas. As well, the community filled in surveys and wrote letters, including those 65+ letters already mentioned asking for changes to the NKT draft report. As a result the City has requested a second draft of DIALOG’s report to be presented for further comment from the community.

You are all awesome! As one of our group said, “Some highlights for me were the t-shirt workshops, the banner and the canvassing. They all reminded me that we live in an amazing and vibrant community and that it is possible to be an activist and to have fun, too …  I’ve also been encouraged by how many people do come out every time that there’s a public meeting. Whether we win or lose this fight, that gives me hope.”

Stay tuned and stay involved for the next season of this gripping drama!

  •  Will DIALOG’s revision of its draft NKT report reflect the concerns raised by the public?
  • Will the City protect the lane next to Doug Fluhrer Park from use by vehicles as promised and will weeds be allowed to grow back on it in the spring?
  • When will the second phase of the NKT Secondary Plan process begin and which consultants will the City hire for that process?
  • What will happen to the Outer Station?
  • Will the new urban K&P trail be used extensively and will those who use it want the WSE to be built alongside it?
New K&P trail east of Rideau St

New K&P trail east of Rideau St

However things unfold, we will keep insisting on our right to participate in decisions that affect our lives and our City.

— Mary McCollam

 

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A double standard?

A letter to the editor of the Whig-Standard (2 Sept. 2016) from Anne Lougheed.

The Whig butchered the letter: here’s the original.

 

Over a year ago, opponents of Kingston’s proposed Wellington Street Extension were informed that the WSE cannot be removed from the Official Plan and other city policy documents without a secondary planning process for North King’s Town. This spring the visioning for that process began, with a launch in May at the Royal Canadian Legion on Montreal Street. In June, a well-attended brainstorming session led by Dialog (the consultants hired by the city) was held at the Portuguese Cultural Centre. With Skeleton Park Arts Festival organizers, city planning staff co-hosted a very successful barbecue and concert in Doug Fluhrer Park. City staff were on hand in McBurney (Skeleton) Park on Saturday June 25 to solicit input from festival attendees on the North King’s Town visioning, and set up an information booth at the Princess Street Promenade on July 30th. More pop-up consultations took place August 4th, and the process is just getting started.

All this is necessary, apparently, because although running an arterial road through a waterfront park is an unpopular plan that is neither consistent with good planning practices nor Kingston’s own policies, nothing can be changed without at least two more years’ work and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent.

In contrast, if a developer wishes to ignore city documents (the Official Plan, its specific policies, the architectural guidelines, zoning bylaws etc.) and propose a high rise development for an area of the city where building height is restricted to preserve the human scale and historic fabric, there are fewer obstacles in the way.

Removing the outdated Wellington St. Extension from the Official Plan and other documents is proving to be an enormous challenge. Residents respect the process, however, and have seized the opportunities to engage with city planners and the consultants. Meanwhile, the owner of the Capitol Theatre property has jettisoned our guiding documents and is poised to stomp on our downtown.

The City actively encourages us citizens to participate in city planning, but fails to demonstrate to us why we should even bother.

 Anne Lougheed

Weighing in on Official Plan Draft 3

Here are the remarks Anne Lougheed made on May 18 at the (last?) Public Meeting about the Official Plan. We really appreciate Anne’s dogged and eloquent attention to the many drafts in this protracted process.

Thanks to the committee and Planning Staff for another opportunity to engage in the process of updating our Official Plan.
As we in WellingtonX wrote to you after the second draft, we appreciate the addition of section 4.6.35.1-“The feasibility of the Wellington Street Extension, listed in Section 4.6.35(e) and (g), will be examined through a future Secondary Planning process. The approximate boundaries for the Secondary Planning Area are identified on Schedule 13.”
We still have concerns about section 3.18.17.b (8 Cataraqui St.) which in draft 3 is on page 248, and it states that “the site design incorporates appropriate streetscaping treatment along the proposed Wellington Street extension. This treatment is to include hard and soft landscaping elements, in keeping with the importance of the Wellington Street extension being a major pedestrian and vehicular access to downtown.”
In the comment and response matrix, both myself (#92, page 54) and Mike Cole-Hamilton (#48, page 35) asked for a change to this wording. We were referred to issue 3 in section 2 of the matrix, which indicates that this section of the OP will be amended, if warranted, after the secondary plan is completed.
However, we’re still hoping for an adjustment that would reflect the uncertainty around the WSE. Maybe the last bit could be changed, the bit about the “importance” of the road. Perhaps remove the last phrase- “in keeping with the importance of the Wellington Street extension being a major pedestrian and vehicular access to downtown.”
At the very least, a cross-reference to the new Section 4.6.35.1, which acknowledges that the WSE will be examined as part of a secondary planning process, should be added here.
In Section 4.6.35: road “extensions” are now called “improvements”, and I don’t think that this change is appropriate. The WSE is included here, which in the minds of many in the community, and on council, is no “improvement”: as well, many of these projects involve the widening of roads or intersections, which may improve these spaces for vehicles but may also make them more difficult and dangerous for pedestrians. Please consider an alternative to the word “improvements”: perhaps renovations, alterations, changes, or possibly just “projects.”
Thank you very much.