Increased affordable housing, core residential development eyed in official plan revisions

KINGSVILLE — Kingsville council has passed a revised official plan, one which promotes the creation of more affordable housing and also encourages further population growth in the downtown core.

The plan incorporates existing policies which allow homeowners to create rental space within an existing home and permits construction of separate secondary dwellings on residential properties.

With Kingsville undergoing a housing boom, home prices have increased. Following in lockstep have been increases in monthly rents.

Mayor Nelson Santos said the town needs at least another 200 affordable housing units.“You times that by seven Essex County municipalities and you have a significant shortage of affordable housing. It’s a regional issue. It’s an issue right across the province, right across Canada.”

The town policy, now blended into the revised Official Plan, calls for full or partial property tax exemptions to encourage the construction of affordable housing.

It also calls for negotiating with developers to include affordable housing in any plans for future subdivision and condominium projects.

Coun. Kimberly DeYong said the eventual sale of Kingsville District High School and Kingsville Public School offers the town the best chance of creating integrated neighbourhoods that include affordable housing.

She said Legion Estates on Lansdowne Avenue is a model of what the town could achieve if it was able to purchase the two school properties and then control the type of development on those sites.

“(Legion Estates) is a three-storey apartment. It offers an elevator which is important to seniors. It has a waiting list and it’s a mix of rentals, with both market rents and subsidized rents, so you have people who can’t afford market rentals who still have someplace nice to live.

“When you have a mix, when you mix in seniors and families, low income and high, you have a community, a nice place to live for everybody.”

Both DeYong and Santos said the town, along with an Ontario government ministry or another school board, would be at the top of list of groups who have “the right of first refusal” on bidding for the two properties.

Santos said the revised Official Plan also restates the town policy of encouraging growth within the “old settlement” of Kingsville and the Lakeshore West area just west of town. The plan also calls for development in Ruthven and Cottam.

The mayor said the town is looking to locate development in areas that have, or will soon have, storm sewers, sewage facilities and water mains.

DeYong noted the push for densification is a provincial mandate, which she felt was more applicable to large urban areas like Toronto, rather than Kingsville.

She said to maintain Kingsville’s small-town feel, developments in the downtown core should be built to the sidewalk, two storeys in height, with commercial stores below and residential units above.

“I don’t think (high density) is necessarily our need,” DeYong said. “I think the same can be achieved with medium density rather than high density, with lower rise rather higher rise, which fit into our quaint small town feel but still provide us with more units so we can fill the current void.”

Santos said the adoption of the revised Official Plan was delayed so the town could create more policies governing greenhouse development.

The plan limits development to south of Road 5 and, to the west, to Division Street. It repeats earlier policies that greenhouses be subject to site plan controls, which would set out setback and buffering requirements and limits on light emissions.

Santos said the plan also encourages greenhouse operators to build bunkhouses to house their workers.

He said concerns have been raised about operators renting homes in Kingsville for their workers. He said no more than four unrelated persons can live in a rental property.

“We are finding some of those and catching up to them. To what this extends to the downtown core, I’m not sure how much of an impact it is, but certainly in the rural residential areas there are some significant concerns,” he said.

Santos said it was legally necessary to incorporate recently devised policies into the revised Official Plan.

“So, if someone wants to challenge us when they’re doing an official plan amendment or zoning bylaw amendment, they would go by the language in the current official plan and it would be hard to defend our policy in the courts and with tribunals, like old Ontario Municipal Board (Local Appeal Planning Tribunal).”

The revised plan also calls more bike paths and an a waterfront walking trail linking Lakeside and Mettawas parks.

Let small businesses remain open, town urges province

Kingsville council has passed a notice of motion asking the province to relent on its most recent lockdown measure and allow the town’s small business to remain open.

The motion, put before council by Coun. Kimberly DeYong, was passed by a 6-0 vote. Coun. Tony Gaffan declared a conflict of interest and did not vote.

DeYong said in the motion that closing local businesses forces Kingsville residents “to travel out of town into larger crowds increasing their exposure to COVID-19.”

She said local business, already feeling the hit from the first shutdown, may not survive the new Code Grey restrictions.

“Their employees will lose their livelihoods,” the motion states.

The motion calls upon Ontario Premier Doug Ford, as well as Ontario cabinet ministers and health officials, “to protect the health of Ontarians and our small businesses by allowing them to remain open to in-store sales with limited capacity and increased safety measures.”

Council puts arena hockey season on ice

Council decided Monday the ice at Kingsville Arena will be removed, ending any possibility of minor and recreational hockey resuming this year.

“It’s a sad day in Hockeyville,” Mayor Nelson Santos said in an interview.

Santos said provincial shutdown measures have made it impossible to keep Kingsville Arena open for minor and recreational hockey.

Santos said the town will save $6,000 a month by taking out the ice.

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