5 Reasons the Capitol Condo Approval is Good News for our Downtown

After more than a year of community discussion, debate and several design revisions, the proposed Capitol condominium development was approved by City Council at our September 20th meeting. Here are 5 reasons why this is good news for our downtown. 

  1. The future residents of the Capitol will shop downtown. Estimates suggest spending by the future residents of the condo will support over 100 full time jobs in the downtown core. This will help limit the number of empty store fronts on Princess Street.
  1. The Capitol adds to the diversity of housing options for residents, both current and future. Condo living is an attractive housing option that appeals to both young professionals and older residents looking to downsize with the opportunity to live, work and play downtown.
  1. The Capitol development will serve as a catalyst for more redevelopment along Queen Street, contributing to a stronger and more vibrant downtown.
  1. With more residential intensification in the downtown, there will be less pressure to expand existing suburban areas, which are more car dependent. With everything in walking distance, we will see fewer cars on the road and reduced greenhouse gas emissions overall.
  1. The Capitol will bring with it a number of community benefits, including more public parking, affordable housing units and a community studio space to strengthen our local cultural scene.

From the Mayor’s Chair – September 20

Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 3 minutes or less.

Highlights from the September 20 Council meeting include approval of the Capitol condo project at 223 Princess Street, the sale of the former Bailey Broom Factory on Rideau Street for redevelopment, and approval of a commemorative stone in Market Square to highlight The Tragically Hip concert  on August 20th. 

Watch the September 20 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE

From the Mayor's Chair -

For previous From the Mayor’s Chair segments visit the media tab at the top of this web

Fresh Made Daily – Building Kingston’s Tourism Brand

 

This has been a big year for tourism – from the national spotlight of The Tragically Hip concert, to the Amazing Race episode, to the Kingston Penitentiary tours, and our award winning festivals and events!  Building on this exciting momentum is the new collaborative tourism brand for Kingston – ‘fresh made daily’. This new branding is a fresh approach to describe Kingston and attract visitors. Have a look at the video below for a showcase of this new branding in action.

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Another key part of Kingston’s new tourism brand is a newly designed website, www.visitkingston.ca, created through a great partnership between Kingston Accommodation Partners and Tourism Kingston. The new website is a great first impression for visitors to Kingston! Check it out here

visit-kingston-website-screenshot

So what does ‘fresh made daily’ mean? ‘Fresh’ means Kingston’s new approach to tourism. ‘Made’ symbolizes our local attractions that highlight culture and creators. ‘Daily’ refers to the timelines and events that are constantly evolving in our community.

This has been a fantastic year for tourism in Kingston and I look forward to continuing to build our tourism brand, inviting more visitors to experience all we have to offer!  

p.s. – Don’t miss great local events and activities – check out the events calendar on the Visit Kingston website here www.visitkingston.ca/happenings

Innovative Redevelopment of a Former School

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School closures can be difficult for any community to deal with, but with some creative thinking at the city level we can turn a negative into a positive by encouraging smart redevelopment. A good example of this approach is with the former St. Joseph/St. Mary Catholic School at the corner of Brock and Napier Streets in the downtown.

Earlier this year the City purchased the property from the school board with a goal of redeveloping the site, and just this week City Council approved a concept plan to bring new life to the site. While there is still public consultation to come and details to be worked out, the future use of the property is shown below.

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As shown in the concept plan, the new vision for the property will incorporate both parkland and affordable housing, both of which are important priorities for our city. The parkland is a great addition to an area of the city lacking in green space. And the affordable housing units in this location will aid our larger goal of pulling affordable housing away from the Rideau Heights neighbourhood and integrating it throughout the city.

This plan also includes a creative element that is being tried out for the very first time. The city will sell off a portion of the site for private development, which will provide revenue to invest back into the affordable housing component and funds to acquire additional parkland in the downtown. This sort of innovative redevelopment is exactly what a smart and livable, 21st century city is all about! Stay tuned for more details on this exciting redevelopment project.

 

 

From the Mayor’s Chair – September 6

Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 3 minutes or less.

Highlights from the September 6 Council meeting include debate and discussion about the future of the the former St. Joseph/St. Mary Catholic School located at 671 Brock Street,  approval of the exterior look of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library branch at 130 Johnson Street as the branch gets ready for upcoming renovations, and appointments to the Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour Visioning Community Working Group

Watch the September 6 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE

From the Mayor's Chair -

For previous From the Mayor’s Chair segments visit the media tab at the top of this web

Emerging Entrepreneurs Right Here in Kingston

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Economic development is critical to the future prosperity of our city, and in my view one of the most important ways we can grow our economy is by growing new businesses right here in Kingston. This is a key part of my vision to make Kingston a smart city, where we create an environment where innovation and entrepreneurship can flourish, and harness the ideas and the young talent coming out of our three post-secondary institutions.

A great example of fostering innovation and entrepreneurship right here in Kingston is the Queen’s Innovation Connector (QIC). Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 5th Annual QIC Summer Initiative Final Pitch Competition and I was blown away by the products and services pitched by students.

Here’s how it works. The Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative (QICSI) a 17-week paid summer internship offering participating teams seeding funding, mentorship and access to the great existing local resources. At the end of the internship eight teams made their pitch to compete for the top prize of $30,000 for their business.

The top prize went to RockMass Technologies who have developed a device to map rock with the aim of improving safety and efficiency in the mining, civil engineering, and exploration industries.

QIC RockMass

The QIC competition is a great demonstration of the incredible talent and emerging entrepreneurs we already have here in our city. What a great opportunity we have as a community to support these new businesses, and in so doing establish future investment and job creation right here in Kingston.

A Night to Remember

 

1 - Hip bannerAugust 20 – The Tragically Hip Day in Kingston – is a night that I, along with all Kingstonians, will always remember. As I reflect on the night I am filled with pride and gratitude.3 - BWB

I am grateful to Gord, Paul, Rob, Gord and Jonny, our hometown boys who became national music icons, but who have never forgotten their Kingston roots. Stories shared over the weekend remind us of the substantial impact the band has had on the lives of Kingstonians, and countless local causes they have supported over the years. Each story shared with me a reminder of their humble and giving nature. On behalf of Kingston, thank you! Gord, you are an inspiration to us all. Thank you for showing us what courage looks like.

20160820_Hip_203801AI am overwhelmed with pride for our city. I am so proud of the spirit of celebration and heartfelt appreciation shown by Kingstonians. You set the tone for a national celebration for our hometown boys.

This was a true community effort, from the staff at our award-winning K-Rock Centre who helped put together a concert for the ages to partner organizations like the Downtown Kingston BIA, Kingston Accommodation Partners who contributed funding to help make this event possible.

I am so proud of the incredible team who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, taking care of the thousand details required to pull off the greatest outdoor concert viewing our community has seen. From event planners, public works crews, facility managers, police officers, bus drivers, customer service representatives, firefighters, paramedics, public works crews, photographers, sound technicians, utilities crews, and so many more – there are so many who played a role in making Saturday’s event a great success. Together we have a great team and I couldn’t be more proud.

There is no doubt that Kingston was in the national spotlight this weekend as we welcomed home The Tragically Hip. The weekend showcased our hometown pride and love for our iconic hometown boys. Thank you to the band, Kingstonians and everyone who played a role in what I will always remember as an truly incredible community celebration. Together we have showcased to the entire country what an incredible city we have.

Bryan 

Advocating for Kingston & Eastern Ontario

Earlier this week I was in Windsor attending the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference. The AMO conference is the largest annual municipal gathering in Ontario with over 1,700 municipal leaders in attendance –  a great chance to compare notes and share ideas with other mayors from across the province. Ranked ballots, Uber and Airbnb, and preparing for the legalization of marijuana were a few of the hot topics of conversation.

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As the Mayor of Kingston and Chair of the Eastern Ontario Mayor’s Caucus, the conference is also a great opportunity for me to meet with provincial ministers and advocate for provincial investment both in Kingston and across the region. One of my key goals was to bring attention to the Third Crossing,  critical infrastructure for our community and region. I was able to meet with several government Ministers and leaders of the opposition on the status of the  Third Crossing project and how we can prioritize this in Eastern Ontario. In particular, I had some great conversations with the Minister of Transportation and the Minister of Infrastructure and look forward to continuing discussions as the project nears shovel ready status next spring.

I also had an opportunity to talk with several ministers about key city priorities like affordable housing, public transit and economic development funding for businesses in Kingston, and I think that there is great potential for future provincial funding in all of these areas.

By the way, there was one other big topic that came up in almost every conversation with every mayor, provincial minister and other elected officials. The Tragically Hip concert here this Saturday! There’s no doubt all eyes will be on Kingston as we celebrate,  show our support and pride as the hometown of the Hip! For full event details please visit www.cityofkingston.ca/HipInKingston

From the Mayor’s Chair – August 9

Check out the latest version of From the Mayor’s Chair, where I break down the decisions of Council in 3 minutes or less.

Highlights from the August 9 Council meeting include an update on Kingston’s new integrated tourism strategy from Kingston Accommodation Partners and Tourism Kingston, the introduction of the made-in-Kingston Youth Employment Strategy,  and Council approval of a plan to reduce the speed on Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard 

Watch the August 9 edition of From the Mayor’s Chair HERE

From the Mayor's Chair -

For previous From the Mayor’s Chair segments visit the media tab at the top of this website

Community Benefits & the Proposed Capitol Condo Project

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Rendering of the proposed Capitol Theatre development, 223 Princess Street 

A new feature has been added to the debate over residential intensification in our downtown: community benefits.

Community benefits, outlined in the provincial Planning Act, are additional offerings provided by a developer that can be included when amendments to zoning are being pursued to allow more height or density.  A city is responsible for negotiating community benefits and any benefits would ultimately require council approval.

Over the next week Kingstonians can offer their input on potential community benefits for our downtown as part of the proposed Capitol Theatre condominium tower, 223 Princess Street.

In this case, this is how the community benefits would work. If the city decides to allow the Capitol condo tower to be built higher than the existing zoning permits, then the city also has the opportunity to ask for additional community benefits such as:

  • Studio space within the condo development that could be used by community cultural groups for shows and presentations
  • Contribution towards a new public parking garage in the downtown
  • A certain number of affordable housing units in partnership with the City’s Affordable Homeownership Program within the condo development
  • Restoration of the original heritage façade for the Princess Street entrance of the development

There has been some confusion about community benefits, so I’d like to be clear – negotiating community benefits are NOT a trade-off system where the more benefits provided equal more height for a condo. This is not the way the zoning approval process works. The Capitol condo project (including the height) will be considered independent of the community benefits.

The addition of community benefits, such as the options described above, does not force City Council to approve the Capitol project. These benefits are simply an opportunity to enhance a residential development and add value to the community. In my view, we should take this opportunity to add as much to our downtown as we can.

So, what are your thoughts on community benefits for this proposal? Send your comments by e-mail to CBenefit223Princess@cityofkingston.ca by Tuesday, August 9th