Housing additions on hold for three Kingston districts

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

Less than 2 months ago – hundreds of Sydenham District residents filled a school gym to discuss ways to help preserve the character of their neighbourhood.

Tuesday night many of those same residents attended Kingston’s City Council meeting – hoping to sway councillors to help them do that.

Meredith McDonnell: “We’ve seen some unsafe redevelopment in our neighbourhood and destruction of single family homes.”

As the demand for student housing has grown – so too has the number of homes, altered to accommodate as many students as possible.

Meredith McDonnell: “When you put 20 students in one house, it’s a very different atmosphere than when you have a single family home that is rented to a few students.”

Council heard that message and voted in favour of having staff draft a bylaw for a temporary freeze on new building permits near St. Lawrence College and Queen’s University.

Developer Jay Patry, who has built larger student housing complexes in the city and is in the planning stages to build more, spoke to council in regards to the wording of the new bylaw and the impact it could have on all development in Williamsville, Sydenham and Portsmouth Districts.

Jay Patry: “The way that my legal attorneys and our planning staff have stated is that it’s actually prohibiting all development in three districts.”

But Stroud says the move to impose a one year freeze is aimed solely at protecting single family homes.

Peter Stroud: “It’s not anything to do with an anti-student movement. We want the students in the neighbourhood but we want them living in homes just like us.”

Stroud says another problem with multi-student dwellings is often times the owner and landlord doesn’t live in Kingston – and can’t properly manage the properties.

Peter Stroud: “The same owner that decided to build those twelve extra bedrooms is the same one that’s not really taking care of the property. Like the garbage, and standards, and coming by and encouraging the tenants to follow the rules.”

City staff will work over the next couple of weeks on an interim control bylaw, that will be presented to council at their January 24th meeting.

If approved it would give the city one year to figure out a more permanent strategy.

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