Proposals for 20-storey high-rise housing in the downtown area are being met with criticism from local residents who fear the developments might ruin the current aesthetic appeal of the region.
“Kingston needs to retain the heritage and low density that today keeps it from retaining anyone below 23,” explained one history buff. “These buildings could create some kind of critical mass event where people actually started to live and work in the downtown core.”
Other residents were concerned about student populations. “We run the risk of making this an attractive city for young graduates to live in,” explained a store owner. “If downtown is worth staying for, we might run into a situation where all age groups are equally represented, crippling the ‘small-town’ feeling we have desperately clung to for the past 25 years.”
Not everyone is against the proposed development. Many of the local pan-handlers interviewed were positive about the opportunity to have 20 storeys worth of additional local residents to crowd-fund their existence. While some drug dealers felt that the reduction in overhead from being able to operate without delivery vehicles would be a boon to their bottom line.
Potentially hardest hit would be owners of the many small apartment and student housing options, affectionately known as slumlords to their tennants, who could see a drastic challenge to their business model.
“If they suddenly start putting new and dense development reasonably close to campus, that’s the beginning of the end for me,” explained one landlord as he covered a broken window with cardboard. “There’s no way I can compete with these guys and still charge my exorbitant rates. I’d have to actually renovate and upgrade these places, which is totally not what I signed up for.”
Sadly, even the Mayor seems to be buying into the long slow downhill slide toward “density” and has tied his ship to the anchor of downtown development. Our only hope will be that our city actually has enough character to define itself not by the makeup of our buildings, but instead the substance of the the people who live in them.