Saturday, May 4, 2013

If the Canada Lands Company buys Kingston Penitentiary, the complex is doomed.

Vacant land is far more valuable to the Canada Lands Company, than a heritage building, a school, or a railway station.
In 2001, CFB Griesbach in Edmonton, Alberta was transferred to the Crown corporation. The CLC planned to demolish the Brigadier Gault School, on the grounds of CFB Griesbach.
The City of Edmonton said the building was worth $1,603,974 million dollars---Canada Lands Company gave it a nil value:
     "Canada Lands Company took the position in MGB 101/05 that the land underlying the improvements on the subject property exceed the capitalized value of the existing property...therefore, the highest and best use of the property was for vacant land. Accordingly, the land should be valued as vacant land..." 
See:          Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta
                Citation: Canada Lands Company CLC Limited v Alberta (Municipal Government Board)
                Date: 20080122.
Many people are desperately trying to save the Kingston Penitentiary. Kingston City Councillor Bill Glover said:
     "It's very, very important that City Council designates Kingston Penitentiary under the provincial legislation to give Council the power to protect this historic property....because federal designation as a National Historic Site of Canada, while it's important, does not protect the property after it passes from public ownership to private hands..." (See: Frontenac Heritage Foundation, Volume 40, Number 1 - January 2013.)

After the government announced that Kingston Penitentiary would be decommissioned, I wrote the following letter to Huffington Post Canada:
"The City of Kingston is fiercely protective of its heritage buildings, cultural sites and waterfront---read the Internet document "City of Kingston Official Plan - Section 7 - Cultural Heritage Resources"( 2010). The City will use all measures possible to protect its "significant cultural resources", which include the Kingston Penitentiary, a National Historic Site of Canada, and the Rockwood Insane Asylum.
The City of Kingston intends to designate Portsmouth Village, where KP and the Prison for Women are located, a "Heritage Conservation District." No high-rise condos units will ever (in the future-AS) obstruct the views of Kingston's waterfront, parks, gardens, cemeteries, lakes, rivers, neighbourhood shorelines, vegetation and scenic vistas.
Ontario's Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing approved the "City of Kingston Official Plan" (2010), so the Federal Government, Ontario Realty Corporation and developers cannot appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board for demolition rights and zoning changes, and win."
Section 7.4.4.4 from the City of Kingston Official Plan (2010).
There are many similarities between KP and the Smith Robinson Building at 27 Princess Street in Kingston, Ontario:
  • KP and the Smith Robinson building are city landmarks, constructed during the 1800's with limestone.
  • The Government of Canada owns the penitentiary; and during World War 11 the federal government acquired the Smith Robinson building.
  • After World War 11, the Department of Veterans Affairs owned 27 Princess Street, but in 1957 the property was declared "surplus" and faced demolition.
  • Entrepreneurs saved the downtown building from demolition. However, the Federal Heritage Building Review Office may be unable to save the penitentiary from obliteration.
The Smith Robinson Building was restored by enterprising, enthusiastic business people, and 27 Princess Street is now a thriving commercial area. Don Cherry suggested that the Hockey Hall of Fame could be relocated here, which I think is a wonderful idea.  See the YouTube video "Don Cherry tours Smith Robinson Building in Kingston, Ontario." Don Cherry was born in Kingston, Ontario.
The Smith Robinson Building, 27 Princess Street Kingston.
There is no reason why the Kingston Penitentiary cannot be converted into a museum, or a commercial hub with restaurants, art galleries, clothing stores...I can envision the guard towers being converted to observation decks, with telescopes that provide commanding views of Fort Henry, Lake Ontario, the Martello Towers,Wolfe Island, etc.
The deconstruction of  Kingston Penitentiary would be a catastrophe. (Photo was sent to me by the Federal Heritage Building Review Office in Gatineau, Quebec.)
If condos are built on the grounds of Kingston Pen, the only people who will have waterfront views are the condo owners.
 The 1970's television show "The Rockford Files" starring James Garner was filmed at Malibu Beach; Jim Rockford lived in a broken-down trailer, and the public had access to the beach.
Several years ago, homeowners in the pretentiously named Malibu Colony banned the public from walking on a strip of land between their properties and the ocean. Compare the Malibu beach of today (as depicted on the t.v. show "Two and a Half Men") to Jim Rockford's Malibu.
 The term PUBLIC PROPERTY is fast becoming an oxymoron, to the detriment of  people who love nature; dog walkers, the tourism industry, bicyclists, campers and wildlife that are losing their
habitat.