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Development plan for former Women’s Prison met with mixed reviews

Last Updated on July 26, 2021 by YGK News Staff

Correction: Siderius Developments has been working closely with the P4W Collective for the last several months. There has also been an agreement on an approach to a healing garden in the development of P4WMC. We will update the article as more information becomes available.

Kingston’s former Prison for Women will become a planned community, pending approval from the city. 

Siderius Developments has unveiled a $143-million plan that would see the 8.1 Acre property located at 40 Sir John A. McDonald Blvd transformed into a living community called “Union Park” that includes a seniors living community, condominiums, a green space, a hotel and ground-floor retail space. 

The announcement was made on Tuesday by Siderius Development Kingston, which is a partnership between ABNA Investments Ltd and King’s Town Development Corporation.

“Union Park Kingston will reimagine this site’s potential by creating a vibrant mixed-use neighbourhood for the benefit of all existing neighbours in Portsmouth, Kingstonians in general, and the hundreds of people that will live and work at Union Park,” said Nate Doornekamp with Siderius Developments 

They say that the project would provide much-needed housing, jobs and commercial space to the Portsmouth Village while preserving the built heritage and history of the property.

Critics of the project have expressed their worry about their ability to follow through on that promise, however. 

In February, an op-ed letter was penned by Hadley Howes and the P4W Memorial Collective bringing forward concerns about developers properly maintaining the “intangible resources” of heritage and the lack of collaboration with community members most closely linked to the prison.

“The relevant experts on the history of P4W – namely the community of people who have been imprisoned there- have been shut out of this collaboration, in spite of repeated attempts to meet with representatives of Siderius,” wrote Howes.

It continues saying the proposed plan looks at the Prisoner for Women not as a living memory of those incarcerated, but as “objects of learning and fascination to a community that engages in carceral tourism,” with the development plan working as a tool to hide the systemic inequities in the prison system and Canada’s history.

Since 2000, the P4W Memorial collective has been lobbying for a memorial garden to be built for women who died at P4M and at prisons across Canada.

The news of this proposal has also been met with mixed reactions on social media, with many seeing the potential this development could add to the Portsmouth Village, but others feeling strongly that by moving forward with this proposal the city will once again be turning a blind eye to its biggest need: affordable housing.

“I think they should be building affordable housing and not housing that only people in a higher income bracket can afford,” said one user. “Another million-dollar condo building? We need affordable housing in Kingston,” added another user.

The process towards construction of this development has begun, with applications to amend the official plan and zoning by-law as well as a Draft Plan to Subdivision submitted to the City of Kingston. 

Siderius says they will continue outreach with residents, landowners, business owners and groups such as the Prison for Women Memorial Collective.

The developer’s plan details steps related to both community development and the construction’s heritage strategy. 

In the timeline laid out, Siderius would expect to receive council approval for phases 1 and 2 in 2022, with construction starting in 2023 with hopes of wrapping up in 2027. 

See more: The state of the P4W in 2020

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttp://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.


  1. It was with complete dismay and outrage finding that the womens prison site is going to be given to developers who will build luxury accommodations, houses and other dwellings. The word luxury indicates that the site will be built to the needs and preferences of the rich! This is very poor planning. We have homeless citizens, youth homelessness, family homelessness many of these families have children. The stigma of homelessness makes all these people invisible and with very little opportunities to change their lives, acquire education and focused job training, how to manage an interview, how to dress, how to become contributing citizens of Kingston. With all the lessons the invisible homeless can teach us, we have the opportunity to work together to make Kingston the best city in south-eastern Ontario! Scrap the luxury, say no to rich developers and their rich clientele. Say yes to planning a unique community which helps give the homeless hope for a better future. Within this community resources must also be included. Resources such as literacy, learning English/French, a recreation centre, a community centre among so many other services which will impact not only those who are homeless but the entire Kingston community as we see ourselves in others and moving towards meaningful compassion and caring which will improve quality of life! Please act quickly, gather together, and defeat this luxury community which will only serve to place yet another burden on those who are not among our elite!

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