Council votes against Davis Tannery development, developer appealing

·4 min read

A highly debated development proposed for the former Davis Tannery site was rejected by City Council at Tuesday night's meeting.

The proposal by Jay Patry Enterprises that would see roughly 1,600 trees cut down and newly constructed mixed use builds including about 1,600 residential units was voted down 8-5 Tuesday night.

A press release from Patry says the decision will be appealed, and representative for the developer Latoya Powder said that is an unfortunate resolution as it will take control away from the public.

"This could set a precedence for other contaminated impaired wetlands to be developed, which is why we wanted to work diligently with City of Kingston to keep this in house," Powder said in an email.

"The city should not have to spend tax payer's dollars on fighting to protect a contaminated wetland/brownfield site."

Patry's multimillion dollar proposal, if approved, was expected to be completed in about 12 years and add 100 affordable housing units and would require a ministerial zoning order.

While city staff recommended the proposal, the city's planning committee rejected it in August.

Councillors voting in dissent cited opposition from the community as well as experts who have recently spoken out against the proposal.

Councillor Jim Neill said he is more inclined to trust outspoken opponents of the project like David Suzuki, Elizabeth May and Dr. Kerry Hill than he is to trust the experts brought forward by Patry.

"I would trust all of them before I trusted the statistics that are being brought to us by the proponent," Neill said.

"I find it really troubling that we seem to be given this choice and there's a degree of misinformation before us... do we choose to support our constituents or do we trust the developer who has so much to gain in this proposal?"

Dr. Kerry Hill, a retired Queen's professor and biologist, wrote a letter on Friday to councillors questioning a number of the claims made in favour of going forward with the development.

Councillors received hundreds of letters against the development, particularly around the destruction of wetland space and lack of consultation with Indigenous stakeholders.

The group "No Clearcuts Kingston" was created in opposition of the development, and shared a letter to councillors that addressed a number of the issues surrounding the development.

The organization's letter says that while Kingston's housing crisis is undeniable, this is not the solution.

"Kingston has an affordable housing crisis and addressing this crisis needs to be a top priority. However, this development will not solve this crisis," No Clearcuts Kingston's letter reads.

"All but a possible 100 of the 1700 condos and apartments proposed for this development will NOT be affordable. Intensification is important, but it should fit with the land and with present neighbourhoods. An urban forest, a PSW, and a shoreline adjacent to a UNESCO World Heritage Site are not the place to build such an aggressive, profit-driven development. There are more appropriate locations along major city corridors for mixed-use, affordable intensification."

Councillor Hill, voting in favour of the development, said the focus should be on creating more housing in the community, bottom line.

"In my estimation if we turn this down we're turning our back on this part of the city," Hill said.

"We have a chance to bring vitality and energy back to this neighbourhood, we have a chance to add 1,600 units to our housing stock... I believe that we owe it to our community and our future residents to approve this project."

The proposed developer Jay Patry released a statement on Wednesday saying that the rejected proposal would both increase housing affordability in Kingston and through intensification address climate change and said the decision will be appealed.

"We are in a housing crisis, and had worked hard to cooperate with staff and the community," Patry's statement read.

"With Council’s rejection of staff’s recommendation, we will have no choice but to appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal. This decision of Council will directly increase the cost of these residential units, and has a direct impact on housing affordability in Kingston.”

Latoya Powder said in an email that an appeal would be submitted as soon as the notice of decision was received from the City, noting that it was anticipated that the process would be biased due to public input.

Patry's initial applications for the development were submitted nearly five years ago.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News