Downtown Kingston business owner speaks out after 16-storey condo development rejected

Ontario’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal has shut down construction of a 16-storey condo building in Kingston after a number of concerned residents rallied against its development.

One local business owner had put a down payment on one of the proposed Capitol Condo units and was taken aback when construction was halted.

“I was surprised. I was disappointed in this investment I made three years ago, and it seems to go nowhere,” said Paul Fortier, owner and president of Jessup Food and Heritage Ltd.

A group of concerned citizens appealed the plans for the Capitol Condo development with the Ontario Municipal Board in April of this year, and the rejection of the proposed development was issued by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal on Nov. 9.

“We felt that having a 16-storey building would overwhelm the downtown,” said Shirley Bailey, president of the Frontenac Heritage Foundation.

The proposed site was on Princess Street in an area where the city has designated a four-storey building maximum.

However, the developer says he is confused about the tribunal’s decision, saying Kingston’s vacancy rate is dropping to record lows.

“People don’t have places to live,” said Capitol Condo developer Darryl Firsten. “We talk about housing and affordable housing, which are important topics, but we do not even have housing, period. Situations like this — with the board’s decision and the appeal — there is going to be no developer who is going to want to build in Kingston, and the problem will get worse.”

The growing vacancy issue has many other business owners worried. Fortier explained that when the tourists leave, the flow of revenue decreases, however local residents remain year-round.

“We have tourists in the summer and on the weekends but we need residents in the vibrant downtown who spend money on a daily basis and want to spend money in our stores, shops and restaurants,” said Fortier.

Fortier added that he is holding off on taking his down payment back because he wants to wait and see what the future holds for the property.

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