Concerned residents voice opinions on former school redevelopment

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

KINGSTON –┬áThe redevelopment of the former St. Joseph/St. Mary Catholic school property has been a sore point for the neighbours … starting with, what they call, a lack of public consultation….

Simon Asmum/Concerned Resident:
“Since there is no more public consultation for community engagement in the process. This is not really approached in a way that is fair, just or sustainable.”

That frustration is also in the form of a nearly 1,000 name petition.
Residents want council to increase the amount of park space from 55…. to 75-percent of the site… the same amount they’ve enjoyed since the school opened.
They also want the city to scrap plans to sell some of land for private housing.

Alastair McLean/Concerned Resident:
“I just don’t think that the idea of using or selling a part of the property, privately, to fund the affordable housing is going to work. Because it’s going to drastically change our neighbourhood. .”

Residents say they don’t have a problem allocating 25-percent of the former school for affordable mixed-use housing…. but say adding more private housing in the mix is too much.

Don Richardson/Concerned Resident:
“Two, four structures and a small parcel of land is unacceptable to the majority to the people I have talked to. I would like to suggest that affordable housing comes first and enough park space… 75 percent, be retained.”

City officials say selling some of the property to the private sector will help pay for the new park space and affordable housing.
The city bought the de-commissioned school for 2.2 million dollars….hoping to create a community benefit.
Instead, it’s become community frustration over how to redevelop the land… and that’s prompting some councillors to re-think how they handle properties like this in the future.

Heather Senoran:
“Councillor McLaren and Councillor Peter Stroud have put together a new motion that I have right here. This is just a draft of the new proposed School Land and Acquisition Policy. McLaren says once this draft is complete, the motion will seek more public consultation and improved formal policy for future developments.”

Jeff McLaren/City Councillor:
“But at this point there’s a lot of anger and resentment that has built up and fear. It’s going to very difficult to fix it in this case but going forward I hope we’ll never have to do this again, in this way, with so much public outrage.”

Councillors are expected to revisit the school parkland issue November 1.
Heather Senoran CKWS News, Kingston.

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