City vision for former school upsets some neighbours

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

Kingston –  The city of Kingston recently bought a school.  But its vision for the vacant mid-town property has upset some of the neighbours.  Many call the city’s redevelopment rushed.  Including a plan to flip some of the land for private housing.

Public parkland, affordable and private housing.  That’s what the city has planned for the former St. Joseph/St. Mary Catholic School site.  The city purchased the 1.5 acre property in the summer for more than 2-million dollars.  The concept design includes transforming 25 percent into parkland, 21-for private development and the remaining 24-percent for affordable housing which works out to about 30 to 35 rentals.

Sheldon Laidman/ Director, Housing & Social Services
“10-social housing units that we’ve relocated from the Rideau Heights area, 10 affordable units which would be for low income individuals and then the remainder of the units would be purely market units that the Kingston Frontenac Housing could rent at market rates.”

But some residents in the neighbourhood aren’t fans of the proposal.  During an open house Monday – many in the packed crowd voiced their displeasure with the city’s vision and how quickly things are moving.

Paula Varette-Cerre, Concerned Resident
“It’s going to dwarf the park, it’s going to dwarf the beautiful Churchill Park and I think we’ll see the end of our beautiful little neighbourhood.”

Pat Hodge, Concerned Resident
“This whole process was sprung upon councillors just before the Labour Day weekend. They made a rapid decision, there was no planning rationale provided at the time.”

Annette Burfoot, Concerned Resident
“People have used words like sneaky, underhanded, there’s a lot of frustration, can change actually occur as a result of this consultation. People feel like it is hopeless, that the decision has already been made.”

City officials confirm that they are looking to fast track this development because they want to tap into federal funding.

Sheldon Laidman/ Director, Housing & Social Services
“The dates given to municipalities are very tight and this round of funding is contingent upon being able to use the money by the end of the first quarter in 2017.”

The city has launched an on-line survey to gather more feedback on the redevelopment.  Residents have until October 10th to take part.  Once the on-line survey is complete the results will be compiled into a report which will be presented to council late this month.

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