In 2006 Council commissioned an Environmental Study Report (or EA) on the Wellington Street Extension from Morrison Hershfield. It was approved by Council and then by the Ministry of the Environment in 2008 (which means that it will expire in 2018, and have to be at least partially reviewed if the road is not built by then). The main points of the EA are presented in the Executive Summary; what is startling is that the many subsequent pages provide little evidence or research to back up the report’s presuppositions or findings. Alternatives are summarily dismissed; wildlife and cycling studies were done in the winter; little attention is paid to environmental and community issues.
Recent years have seen a number of policy changes at both municipal and provincial levels that challenge the thinking of the 2006 EA, and may require us to proceed differently now. The WSE EA can be seen as a reflection of now-outdated planning philosophies.
Wellington X has not promoted an update to the EA as a strategy for stopping the road, because Environmental Assessments must pick a “preferred project” as their focus and tend to be based on engineering rationales more than the broader needs of the community and ecosystem. City Council has decided that the “North Kings’ Town” area — that is, the area around the proposed route of the WSE — be studied via a Secondary Planning process that, they assure us, will include ample consideration of the full range of community concerns. In the mean time, before that process starts, Wellington X has been working hard to promote active and public transit and protection of greenspace and waterfront in the updates of the Official Plan and the Transportation Master Plan. See the blog for reports on our interventions.
For further context, consider the following:
Mission Statement: “Kingston places importance on parks and recreation services to enable residents to lead healthy lives, embrace environmental stewardship and strengthen our sense of community pride and spirit.”
Recommendation #2: “In areas of residential intensification (including, but not limited to, the urban core), make the preservation and enhancement of parkland and open spaces a priority. This may include … improving linkages to existing park sites, renewing and/or redeveloping existing parks, implementing urban design practices that enhance connections with park/open space elements, etc.”
Endorsement of Neighbourhood Planning: “The goal of neighbourhood planning is ‘to build social capital, which is the ability of the neighborhood to organize itself to identify problems and solve them in partnership with elected officials, businesses, and public agencies.’ … Neighbourhood level considerations must include the history of the community, demographics, housing options that are applicable to the residents (existing and future), safety, education and recreation opportunities.”
Sustainable Kingston Plan (2010)
“Our planning process will enable participation for all interested parties; our implementation process will create and promote opportunities for organizations, institutions, businesses, citizens, and visitors to participate; and, our governance structure will provide opportunities for Community Partners and citizens to take responsibility for implementing sustainability in Kingston.”
- Plan, construct and maintain safe, secure, convenient, efficient, and attractive transportation infrastructure to encourage pedestrian, cycling and public transit modes of transportation.
- Increase the number of passengers using public transit.
- Improve local, regional, national, and international linkages between different types of transportation and transportation hubs.
- Reduce single occupancy and short distance motor vehicle use.
- Develop an interconnected regional trail network.
- Develop niche tourism markets including sport tourism, business tourism, leisure travel, cultural tourism, and eco-tourism.
- Reduce and/or mitigate our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to become carbon neutral.
- Minimize aerial emissions including volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Minimize noise pollution.
- Preserve the most environmentally-valuable natural areas in the City.
- Increase the amount of natural areas within Kingston including natural corridors, shorelines, and significant woodlots.
- Protect local biodiversity through habitat and riparian area protection.
- Restore and remediate degraded natural areas where possible.
- Enhance the environmental aspects of park management.
- Reduce urban sprawl through promotion of compact development, increased density, mixed use development and restoration and appropriate reuse of brownfield sites.
- To protect, conserve, and strategically deploy the natural, cultural and built resources of the City in a manner … that reduces energy, land or resource consumption in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions … that limits the need for undue extension of infrastructure or reliance on the private automobile… and promotes programs and practices that will produce increasingly sustainable development in the City.
- To provide new opportunities for growth and investment within Kingston in a manner that respects existing development and minimizes conflict or adverse effects.
- To protect and improve significant areas of natural heritage and their function as an inter-related system.
Policies to include:
- strategies that will revitalize both neighbourhoods and employment areas, and rehabilitate brownfield sites for re-use
- parks that are planned to be accessible by urban residents within a ten minute walk
- an ecosystem approach to protecting the natural heritage system
- The Major Open Space/Environmental Areas within the City… contribute to the sustainability of the ecosystem by including areas that provide a respite from urban forms of development. The City will preserve this resource and augment its open space inventory in newly-developing areas, in redevelopment areas and particularly along the waterfront.
- The City intends to increase the overall net residential density within the Urban Boundary through compatible and complementary infill, the appropriate redevelopment of underutilized and brownfield sites, and the targeting of a density increase for large-scale vacant land development in the Princess Street Corridor and Centres.
- Shorelines of lakes and rivers are a valued visual, environmental, and recreational resource to be protected, and acquired, where feasible, to form a linked, public open space system
- the Kingston Transportation Master Plan promotes satisfying travel demand by making efficient use of the existing infrastructure and by providing the facilities and services to encourage walking, cycling and transit as priority modes before providing new road infrastructure. While the automobile will continue to be the primary mode of transportation in the City, other, more active forms of transportation will be aggressively promoted to maximize existing road capacity and improve environmental conditions.
- Only proposed land use changes that are compatible, or can be made compatible, with surrounding sites and land use designations will be approved.
This document stresses the need to opt for active transit and public transportation over other modes of transportation where possible. It also notes the import of considering the mitigating effect of vegetation on climate change. The most relevant sections of the PPS 2014 may include Policy 1 (including provisions under Settlement Areas (126.96.36.199. (a) (3), (4) and (5)); Public Spaces, Recreation, Parks, Trails and Open Space (1.5.1); Infrastructure and Public Service Facilities (188.8.131.52); and Energy Conservation, Air Quality and Climate Change (1.8.1. (b)-(f). Municipal decisions on planning matters (as well as Council comments and advice) must be “consistent with” provincial policies that are in place at the time decisions/comments are made. Although the decision to include the WSE into municipal planning documents happened under previous provincial policies, any decision made which furthers the decision/process, including comments, submissions or advice by the Council, must be consistent with PPS 2014.