Housing strategy won’t impact Kitchener’s changing skyline

It’s unlikely Ottawa’s recent and overdue housing strategy will be in place when at least 15 major high-rise projects dramatically change Kitchener’s skyline during the next two years.
That approaching $1-billion construction frenzy is caused by a combination of inner-city intensification, Light Rail Transit and developers scrambling to benefit from a program of forgiven development-charge incentives worth millions of dollars that ends in February 1919.
To help save our countryside from urban sprawl, I’m in favour of carefully managed intensification and building conversions in and round the inner city but I also support the protection of established residential communities, particularly heritage neighbourhoods.
And as someone who represents downtown Ward 9 and lives in the Victoria Park heritage area, I’m increasingly concerned about developments along King, Queen, Victoria, Benton and Charles as well as other major arteries cradling about half a dozen established communities.
Recently I learned about plans to build a 25-storey tower beside the Tannery at Francis and Charles streets and another 20-plus-storey building at Victoria and Bramm streets. One positive part about the proposal alongside The Tannery is that it includes the first downtown grocery-supermarket store in the city’s west end
Meanwhile, a few blocks away, developers of what started as a 24-storey condo and retail project at Gaukel and Charles streets want to push it up to 31 storeys.
Additional projects are coming on other parts of Victoria Street and circling the LRT terminal near King and Wellington while others will follow at the east end of the core.
Which is good for the economy but what about the changing character of those established neighbourhoods that are expected to embrace enormous condo towers that do little to provide housing for other than investors and high-income homebuyers along the LRT route?
With existing city regulations, zoning and a recent tall-building policy, all we can hope for is that councillors with one eye on the 2018 municipal election insist developers taking advantage of those cash incentives meet high standards of construction quality and architectural design in buildings that will be with us for decades. At the same time, planners should also research ways to make certain those developments meet the affordability and housing needs of all income groups.

This entry was posted in Cherry Park, Heritage, Light Rail Transit, Low-Cost Housing, Neighbourhoods, RIENS, Vibrant Downtown, Victoria Park. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Housing strategy won’t impact Kitchener’s changing skyline

  1. Frank – When profit is the purpose, affordability will never be a priority. We need to focus attention in two areas – 1) maintaining existing rental stock and 2) creative non traditional approaches to housing. There is a lot to be done in both of these areas.

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