Thanks to everyone that took the time to vote in last week’s poll on Re-imagining Kingston’s skyline! Of the 445 votes cast so far, 40% of respondents said: I’m comfortable with 18 storey buildings, but only if they are in the right location and only if they are visually attractive and innovative in their design.
So the answer to the question – How High is Too High? – for most people seems to be: it depends. This week I would like to get your feedback on a more specific development. At the Downtown Kingston Business Association (BIA!) Spring General Meeting, some preliminary designs were presented for a new 18 storey condo tower on the site of the old Empire Theatre building.
First here is the view from Princess Street (note that the tower is set back more than 100 feet from Princess Street itself in order to preserve the existing building facade and streetscape).
Now here is the view from Queen Street where the tower would be located, right next to the Corus studios.
I am very pleased to hear the old Empire Theatre property on Princess Street has been sold and that plans are in the works to build a brand new residential development on the site. In my view developments of this kind are critical to the future health and vitality of our downtown. If we have more people living downtown, we create the necessary base of customers for the shops, restaurants and other businesses in the downtown to be successful.
However, because space in the downtown area is limited, building higher buildings will allow more people living and supporting the downtown. But, how high is too high? I want to hear from you! How can we encourage the right kind of development that brings more people into the city core while still preserving the character of our beautiful downtown?
At our council meeting this past Tuesday, one of the important topics discussed was the proposed creation of Valour District. The proposed district would recognize our military history here in Kingston through the creation of new street signs with a red poppy, the symbol of remembrance, and the words ‘Valour District’. The signs would replace or be added to the signs in the proposed district stretching from the Kingston Armouries on Montreal Street to Fort Frontenac on Ontario Street.
The community engagement conducted by the city received both positive and negative feedback on the idea of creating the Valour District. In fact, the feedback was about 50% in favour and 50% opposed. I always keep an open mind and consider all perspectives and opinions before coming to a decision. But now, after having read the comments and considered the idea, I am firmly in favour of the creation of Valour District.
The tipping point for me was being a part of this week’s ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the departure of the 21st Battalion from Kingston. On May 5, 1915, three quarters of the entire population of Kingston lined the streets to say goodbye to young soldiers on their way to the battlefields of World War I. The Great War and the conflicts that followed are terrible events in world history. Commemorating such events is in no way to romanticize or glorify, but instead to pay tribute to those who fought and many who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the peace and prosperity we enjoy today.
The creation of Valour District is to honour the memory of young men and women who were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to serve our country, like those in the 21st Battalion. Even today, while we can disagree on the politics of military involvement in conflicts around the world, surely we can all agree that a soldier who accepts the order to risk their life in a war zone is demonstrating valour. It is this demonstration of valour that we recognize every November 11. And it is this demonstration of valour that we should recognize in Kingston through the creation of Valour District.