KINGSTON – After a year and a half of public meetings, consultations and different visions, we are just days away from city council voting on the fate of Kingston Pen and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. But some community groups are frustrated — saying the city has spearheaded a faulty, rushed, public engagement process. Heather Senoran explains.
As the city moves closer to deciding the fate of the Kingston Penitentiary site and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour — there are skeptics that are disappointed with how the city has handled the process.
Christine Sypnowich/Chair, Coalition for Kingston Communities:
“Whatever we do is going to have repercussions for generations. We can’t undo demolitions.”
The chair of the Coalition for Kingston Communities says plans for the development of the 20-hectare waterfront land is being rushed — and things like heritage preservation and consultation hasn’t played a big enough part in the city’s recommended plans.
“There were meetings last month but it was clear that actually the process of sharing the report to the city was already underway. So there was talk about ‘give us your feedback’ but it turns out that feedback will play no role in the report going to council.”
Next week council will vote on whether or not to adopt the latest vision for both sites– For Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, the old building would be replaced with a more modern facility that has potential for commercial and residential spaces.
For the moth balled prison– a mix of tourism, residential and commercial space with a possible sailing centre.
Bryan Paterson/Kingston Mayor:
“We’re trying to find the middle ground where we would preserve part of the site in its current state and preserve those buildings but also allow for enough redevelopment that would pay to maintain the existing heritage buildings that we are going to keep.”
“The Mayor says if council adopts the vision, the Federal government would take the lead on the KP site as it owns the property but Portsmouth Olympic Harbour is city owned, and the city will put forward an implementation plan as soon as possible.”
But is it too much too soon?
“We’ve had a year and a half of consultation. I think we’re had more consultation on this particular than perhaps any other project in the city.”
“So let’s walk the talk, let’s see the city consult with the heritage bodies that are concerned with this issue.”
The mayor says it’s not too late, as council endorsing a recommended vision for the prized waterfront property does NOT mean any plans are set in stone just yet.