Editorial note: The following is a submitted Op/Ed article. The author’s assertion that the units in the proposed development will be “affordable housing” is not currently reflected in the proposal documents. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Kingstonist.
Kingston is facing a housing crisis. Simply put, there aren’t enough places to live.
The City of Kingston reported last February that our vacancy rate was 1.4%. This not only means that people born here cannot find housing, but it also means that people who want to settle here will simply choose another destination.
To give a little perspective, Toronto – Canada’s most populous city – had a vacancy rate of 4.6%. We all know that when supply is low and demand is high, the price goes up. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Kingston for 2021 was $1,150, while Toronto had a median rent of $1,445. It’s hard to believe that despite Toronto being about 21 times our population and also being one of the most expensive and in-demand cities in the world, Kingston’s median rent is only $295 from the Toronto one.
Housing affects our local economy in a multitude of ways, the first being that it acts as a barrier for many people seeking employment in Kingston. Every house not built in Kingston is another family doctor choosing to practice elsewhere, dealing another blow to our already failing health care systems in the city.
Of course, it’s no secret that many jobs here are seasonal or service-based. This means that people who choose to work in Kingston often receive salaries that generally do not keep up with increases in the cost of living. It is therefore essential that Kingston focus on giving much more urgency to the review and approval of housing project proposals. We must act now to ensure that the supply of housing increases significantly at a steady rate.
The tannery is a long abandoned property. It is in poor environmental condition after decades of neglect due to tannery operations and continues to deteriorate further due to the inaction of those who would rather do nothing and leave the property as it is. Here and now, we have a crucial opportunity not only for the redevelopment of the property into 1,500 affordable housing units, but also for the cleanup of trash and contaminated soil.
There are groups that oppose this project who will say that this project is destroying green spaces, and my rebuttal is simple: have you been to local public parks? Have you walked the trails? By opposing this project, you are destroying more human lives to save the very trees under which the homeless sleep. I am saddened for so many people that you place their lives under polluted and contaminated land in the comfort of your own home.
It is for these reasons that I unequivocally support Jay Patry’s proposal to redevelop the site of the former tannery.
Resident of Kingston
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