This is Irena Manoliu's presentation to the LVEC public meeting held April 25th 2005 at City Hall.
My name is Irena Manoliu; I am President of the Board of Directors of Frontenac Condominium Corporation Number 59 known as the Leeuwarden.
Our Condominium Corporation is the newest in town. The building was constructed in 2001; most Owners moved in in 2002 the year in which Corporation Number 59 was turned over to the Owners. Some Owners are former Kingston residents, but most moved from nearby places such as Napanee and Gananoque while others come from as far as Toronto and Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver and Miami. They were attracted by the Limestone City, which rivals Victoria and Vancouver Island as retirement areas, and of course, they were attracted in particular by the setting of our building.
Owners inquired into city's plans for the area found that the City of Kingston was committed to the Waterfront Vision issued in 1980. Further, the building of the Bajus, the town homes on Rideau and Bay Streets and Rideaucrest Nursing Home and Tower was evidence of the city's commitment to develop this area as a residential neighbourhood. In order for the Leeuwarden to be built, a zoning amendment was required to accommodate the proposed height, a process that further re-enhanced the commitment to a residential area.
In February 2004, only two years after our condominium's incorporation, Mayor Rosen declared that the mayor's Task Force recommended Anglin Bay as the preferred site for the LVEC. This announcement came as a blow to our residents. It was more so since Deputy Mayor Foster, chair of the Task Force, was also a member of the Planning Committee which allowing the Leeuwarden to be built just a very few years before. We strongly feel that the City of Kingston mislead us when they approved the by-law amendment which allowed our building to be built, and betrayed our trust when they announced a plan to break the existing commitment to the Inner Harbour as a residential community.
With the LVEC approximately 100 feet from our front of our building, we have legitimate concerns about the potential damage that will be caused to our property and way of life. Buses will be idling and cars will be dropping passengers across the street from our building creating fumes and air pollution: this is the air that our ventilation system will bring into our building. People with respiratory problems will be severely affected. Noise pollution is another major concern. The sources of noise are many: crowds coming and going from events, transports bringing in equipment for shows, and excessively loud rock bands. During the public presentation of the business plan it became evident that large trucks may not constitute a traffic problem, since they will be off the site by 3 a.m. Experience at similar entertainment centres indicates that setting up and taking down equipment for shows will take place at night. Unlike the other residents of the City of Kingston, protected by the city noise by-law, we appear to be excluded from such protection and condemned to sleepless nights.
We are concerned about excessive site lighting. In the past an owner of a townhouse on Rideau Street complained to the City that one of our pole light fixtures disturbed him at night, and we were ordered by the City to shield the light. We are seriously concerned that shielding, or re-directing lights in such a way as not to glare in our windows may not be practical for the safety of the site and pedestrian walkways.
We are of course concerned about illegal parking. Our building has a rear parking deck for owners and visitors, without any enclosure or protection from outsiders. I found the Phase 1 - Draft Parking and Traffic Study of particular interest. I have trained as an engineer and I too can draw charts and curves and graphs at any lengths of radius. What the Study is missing is consideration of Human Nature. When the wind is blowing and snow is falling and temperatures dip below -20 degrees C. and windchill factor is -30 degrees, what will patrons elect to do? Walk on icy and snowy walkways? Sometimes walking, as recommended in the nicely drafted charts of the Parking Study, is impractical. People will take a chance and park illegally in the neighbourhood streets. Promises by the City to enforce parking rules are ineffective because of the large number of offenders. We are concerned that illegally parked cars will block our parking deck, entrance and exit ways, hemming us in or severely limiting access to our homes. Despite the recommendation that Wellington Street be extended to Cataraqui Street to allow access for emergency vehicles, we are still concerned that this plan will prove inadequate. Let's not forget that the majority of the residents in our condominium are seniors.
We are also concerned about trespassers on foot. With direct access to our property from both Bay Street and North Street, we foresee that short cuts through our property will appeal to people. By the end of each hockey season, or summer events, we will practically have to replant our lawn. We are further concerned about vandalism and litter since we are so widely exposed.
Looking into the criteria for site selection as a professional engineer, I was appalled to find that there were no criteria. The Task Force Report mentions that "22 sites were looked at" and finally the Inner Harbour selected as "the most exciting place". I found no evidence of any engineering study on the advantages and disadvantages of the 22 sites "looked at".
I went recently to the Open House organized by the City of Kingston in co-operation with Morrison Hershfield, an engineering firm with offices in Ottawa, on Wellington Street extension. I was impressed by Morrison Hershfield's approach in judging the different options available for the extension. I have further attended the Public Advisory Committee as a member, and we were handed out option evaluation sheets on which were listed selection criteria: (1) Traffic and Transportation had 7 sub-sections; (2) Social and Economic Environment listed the following subsections: (A) potential for property impact to residents, (B) Potential for impact to Parks, (C) Potential to impacts to rec. trails/path links, (D) Potential for property impact to business, (E) Potential for impact for noise levels, (F) Potential for encountering site contamination, (G) Supports parkway concept and (H) Potential to support redevelopment. The third group was (3) Cultural and finally Natural Environment which listed these subsections: (A) potential for impact to fish habitat, (B) Potential to impact to terrestrial vegetation, (C) Potential for impact to coastal wetland habitat, (D) Potential for impact to prov. sign. Wetland habitat and (E) Potential to impact for flood plan. The final consideration was (4) Cost. All of these criteria were allocated percentages and scores were individually assigned to each option considered.
It is beyond common understanding why the City commissioned a professional consultant, who is performing such a detailed, expert job for the Wellington Street extension, and then completely disregarded its own policy by failing to follow the same path for selecting the LVEC site. In the case of the LVEC site, the cart has been put before the horse: first the site was subjectively selected, and afterwards we hear desperate, ongoing attempts made to convince the public that this is the best location. There is no doubt in my mind that the process followed by the Task Force and accepted by City Council in the improperly called site selection is flawed and cannot withstand scrutiny.
Not only have social and economic criteria been totally ignored in the selection of the Inner Harbour LVEC site but also the cost. Our repeated questions about the premium costs that will have to be paid to build on Inner Harbour location have been ignored. Additional expenses such as cleaning the brownfields, purchasing MetalCraft and the marina property, paying relocation expenses and loss of production costs for MetalCraft have been swept under the table. Moreover, with the release of Phase 1 - Draft Parking & Traffic Study on April 20th such a premium can no longer be ignored. Under "Preferential LVEC Transit Access" it is stated: "a northern driveway to the proposed LVEC site should be established for transit and emergency vehicles". It sounds prudent, except that such driveway has to be built and this would be just one more of the premiums paid by the City for building on this site.
Extensive walking and cycling is recommended for site access. Let's not forget that the majority of events take place in winter, making cycling impracticable and walking frequently hazardous.
Let's make no mistake: the selection process which identified the Inner Harbour as the best location for the LVEC is flawed; locating the LVEC on that site will have many negative impacts on the neighbourhood and taxpayers' pockets. There is no "no risk" venture: the ultimate responsible for paying the bills is still the taxpayers'.
There is still time for the Steering Committee and Council to change the site location. Failure to evaluate properly all of the pertinent criteria related to the LVEC site selection and costs will have disastrous and irreversible results.