Mid-Rise and Tall Building Policy

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What is Density by Design?

Density by Design is the City of Kingston's project to develop mid-rise and tall building design policies. These policies will guide the future development of buildings of more than four storeys in Kingston to ensure compatibility with existing development. They will also outline specific architectural design requirements for mid-rise and tall buildings City-wide.

This project will complement other work the City is doing to support intensification and will provide clear direction on the design of mid-rise and tall buildings in the City. It will result in the preparation of draft policies for inclusion in the Official Plan.


Why does design matter?

Design matters because it shapes how residents interact with their City. Effective mid-rise and tall building design policies present an opportunity to support Kingston’s goal of providing more affordable housing options to residents while encouraging environmental sustainability and creating vibrant hubs of activity within the City. Furthermore, effective policies can work to conserve and enrich built heritage in the City.

Issues & Options Report

The Issues & Options Report presents the first phase of the drafting/creation of new policy for the City of Kingston that will guide the design of future proposed mid-rise and tall buildings across the city. The eventual new policy report will be entitled "Density by Design: Kingston Mid-rise and Tall Building Policy."

The purpose of the report, which has been prepared after a first round of public consultation and the review of tall building design guidelines and policy approaches in various cities across Canada, is intended to stimulate continued discussion between and among Council, key stakeholders and the wider community about related current or emerging issues. Defining and further discussing these issues will help the project team, made up of City Planning Department Staff and planning and urban design consultant Brent Toderian of TODERIAN UrbanWORKS, to work out what needs to be addressed in the policies. It will also help to shape a clear vision for the future development of mid-rise and tall buildings in the City.


Density by Design Banner


What is Density by Design?

Density by Design is the City of Kingston's project to develop mid-rise and tall building design policies. These policies will guide the future development of buildings of more than four storeys in Kingston to ensure compatibility with existing development. They will also outline specific architectural design requirements for mid-rise and tall buildings City-wide.

This project will complement other work the City is doing to support intensification and will provide clear direction on the design of mid-rise and tall buildings in the City. It will result in the preparation of draft policies for inclusion in the Official Plan.


Why does design matter?

Design matters because it shapes how residents interact with their City. Effective mid-rise and tall building design policies present an opportunity to support Kingston’s goal of providing more affordable housing options to residents while encouraging environmental sustainability and creating vibrant hubs of activity within the City. Furthermore, effective policies can work to conserve and enrich built heritage in the City.

Issues & Options Report

The Issues & Options Report presents the first phase of the drafting/creation of new policy for the City of Kingston that will guide the design of future proposed mid-rise and tall buildings across the city. The eventual new policy report will be entitled "Density by Design: Kingston Mid-rise and Tall Building Policy."

The purpose of the report, which has been prepared after a first round of public consultation and the review of tall building design guidelines and policy approaches in various cities across Canada, is intended to stimulate continued discussion between and among Council, key stakeholders and the wider community about related current or emerging issues. Defining and further discussing these issues will help the project team, made up of City Planning Department Staff and planning and urban design consultant Brent Toderian of TODERIAN UrbanWORKS, to work out what needs to be addressed in the policies. It will also help to shape a clear vision for the future development of mid-rise and tall buildings in the City.


We are asking for your input in the Issues & Options Report. Please submit your questions about this report below. Q&A closes January 31 at 4 p.m.

Q&A

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    Study on the future of Kingston Penitentiary proposed up to 3 building of up to 25 floors each. Since then there has been silence! Could you explain why? Is there any hope for anything happening on that property other than just crumble and decay?

    TimIrwin asked 10 months ago

    Hello! Unfortunately we haven't heard any updates either - since KP is owned by the federal government the plan was being administered by the Canada Lands Company. In my experience sometimes things move a little slower at the higher levels of government. We'll be reaching out to the community when we hear that things are moving again.

    Thanks!

    Andrea

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    I agree with several comments below about the need to be very skeptical about flooding the central downtown and waterfront area with high-rises. People visit Kingston because they appreciate the heritage buildings and the human scale of the downtown area. Multiple buildings of 16-20 stories in the downtown core are likely to significantly detract from Kingston's charms as a tourist destination. We have already lost much of our waterfront to high-rises - it is time to protect what is left. And let's not kid ourselves that high-rise condos will do anything to solve the critical shortage of affordable housing. If the experiences of London, England and Vancouver are anything to go by, a lot of these units will be bought be overseas investors and may never even be occupied.

    Nakaduck asked 9 months ago

    Hello! Thanks for your comments. We haven't seen any evidence of unoccupied units as experienced in London and Vancouver, luckily!

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    I have many reservations regarding high rise buildings, but one that I would like to mention here is the concern regarding architectural details and street wall design. As outlined in the Report, the city can regulate more easily quantifiable aspects of design, but it finds itself limited in what it can control and require regarding the enhancement of a building. This is an enormous problem, as we have seen. As one of the aims of new construction is to take a "made in Kingston" approach, could the city provide incentives for developers/architects to make use of the incredible artisanal wealth here in Kingston? We have people working in wood, metal, stone, paint, ceramics, glass, and more. Buildings could display--particularly on that street level--some of the talents of our own makers, and satisfy some important aesthetic needs: visual interest, the human scale, and a sense of place.

    Katherine Romba asked 8 months ago

    Thank you for the excellent suggestion!

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    I agree with others that have said that there should not be any hi-rises in the downtown. In addition I believe any construction in the downtown should be limestone in order to keep the downtown attractive. I understand Bath England has this by-law and it is a beautiful city. In my opinion there have been opportunities in the townships to build hi-rises that would have little impact on others. For example, the area behind the Cineplex Theater where the old Nortel building was should have been the new school and hi-rises along the retail strip with a green buffer between the existing houses, as there is hydro towers there anyway. The new hi-rise buildings near the via station would have been perfect if it wasn't for the few houses that where built there first. As you know hi-rise building require a large amount of infrastructure therefore these projects are much more practical when they can be planned for in the township areas. Thank you for all of the thought and consultation put into this ! Jason

    J.Bulch asked 8 months ago

    Hi Jason! Thanks for your comments. One of the most important considerations for high density development, which includes taller buildings, is that it is in areas that are not car dependent. Concentrating higher densities in areas with existing infrastructure is much more efficient, especially over the long term when these services need to be replaced.

    Thanks!

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    I've sent a full letter to the contact provided, but for the public, I think we need to (a) make sure we do our best to learn from global best practices and not repeat the same mistakes that other towns have made as they grow to become cities and (b) try to integrate populations of different interests and needs (eg. elderly, working-class, students) in order to avoid the unintentional creation of 'pockets' of special interests. How will the Official Plan do this?

    KingstonBill asked 10 months ago

    Hi Bill! Great question, and something we think a lot about these days in planning. One example of how we tackle the problem of greater social integration is to work with developers to provide a range of unit sizes within a specific development or building. This can help result in a mixture of residents of different family sizes and stages of life, as well as providing a greater range when it comes to the cost of housing. We also ensure that buildings provide shared amenity space to allow residents to interact with one another.

    Another example that I know you'll appreciate - we require secure, convenient bicycle parking at a ratio of 1 space per unit in multiresidential developments. As much as possible, we are working to ensure that people have options other than cars to move around the city.

    Thanks!

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    I understand that Kingston needs more housing. Why does anyone think that allowing sky-scrapers of high-end condos and apartments for rich people will help people of middle and low incomes? Hi-rise should not overshadow mid-rise and mid-rise should not overshadow low-rise. I thought that this is what Official Plans and Zoning Bylaws are for. I have attended numerous appeal hearings of such inappropriate proposals because various planners and Kingston City Councils would not say no to apparently influential developers sniffing big profits. Why can’t WHAT IS ALREADY IN A NEIGHBOURHOOD BE STUDIED AND CONSIDERED BEFORE PLANS ARE ACCEPTED? That is what responsible architects like Bruce Downey do. I haven’t noticed Mr.Toderian or those working on appealed projects working this way. Kingdton should prioritize mid-rise and low-rise housing for middle-income and low-income people, and allow high-rise buildings only where these are not over-shadowed or neighborhoods not disrupted

    Jean Gower asked 10 months ago

    Hello! We agree that affordable housing needs to be supplied within our market, but also understand that some affordability improvements may result from a general increase in supply. You're quite right that the planning policy deals with "transition" - in other words, changes from one prevailing built form to another, such as from mid rise to low rise. The work of this project will further refine those policies.

    Generally speaking, what is already existing in a neighbourhood is extensively studied and considered when Official Plan and secondary plan policies are created. It also typically forms part of the planning rationale submitted in support of any development application under the Planning Act.

    Thanks!


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    I am not in favour of flooding every part of the waterfront with condos, I know for each condo that is built it is an incredible amount of taxes collected per unit for the city coffers, however, looking at what the downtown waterfront looks like now (with high priced real estate stealing the view), I think we should we should be leaving waterfront (what remains), for those who want to enjoy that public space. As for downtown intensification, only those with deep pockets can afford to live there, and there really aren't many services (e.g. grocery stores, other than NoFrills) in the lower part of downtown. Downtown should only have lower rise buildings and they should include services or better yet an publicly funded art gallery

    Toad asked 10 months ago

    Thanks for your comments!

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    Will the city act to protect our downtown core from being overwhelmed by projects such as the Capitol Condo? Tourists from all over the world stop here to shop, done, and walk around our (mostly) pedestrian scaled downtown core. Large buildings towering over our historic streetscapes threaten this very large tourist industry which has kept our downtown thriving while other cities battle downtown decline.

    3aw6 asked 10 months ago

    Hello! A major reason for this project is to provide clarity around what is permitted in the downtown core, and the heritage character is a main consideration for this area. We also understand that tourists and residents alike benefit from having people living in the downtown core - it's part of what makes it a vibrant, exciting place to be!

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    I think developers are too focussed on the "downtown" and a too-narrow definition of "downtown" . These days, "downtown" should include the old city before the townships were added. The problem is that a lot of what could be affordable housing in Calvin Park, Polson Park, etc. is being turned into student housing. This puts rents up because several students going together can pay higher rents than a low-income wage earner.

    DIANNE asked 10 months ago

    Hi! Thanks for your comments. In the planning department we tend to differentiate between the Central Business District (CBD) and other neighbourhoods. We're hopeful that as the supply of housing increases in the city over the next few years, there will be less pressure on surrounding neighbourhoods and also less upward pressure on rents.

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    I've read most of the report and like what I see. On the question of parking; sadly we are wedded to the automobile and I see no major divorces happening soon! The downtown will have/has an excellent public transportation system, so is it possible to build parking offsite with easy access to it? How would that be received by the public? I live in a highrise on Hwy 15 and the amount of real estate occupied by autos saddens me. John Morrison The Wellington

    skipperjohn asked 10 months ago

    Thank you for reading the report! That is a great question. We do currently contemplate off-site parking for residential developments, provided it is in good proximity. We know that many people make use of the Kingston Transit park and ride areas, but hope that in future even more do!