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