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Welcome to the new WARD 4 NEWS Blog!
I hope this blog will be a place to share information and engage in a positive dialogue about our city.
A few things about the blog:
- I welcome your comments. Please note that comments will be moderated to filter spam and inappropriate language.
This blog will not post personal attacks.
Any comments you post on the blog will not become part of the public record. If you have input that you would like to be part of the record, or to be addressed by Council or City staff, please send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions I express in this blog are mine and mine alone, and do not represent the official positions of the City of Guelph or City Council.
I am excited about this blog and its potential to boost two-way communication between us.
Wednesday May 15th - 2013
Last week, a local musician wrote an opinion piece HERE in the Guelph Mercury about Guelph's noise by-law and how he beleives the bylaw will destroy the ability of kids to learn how to play instruments across this city.
Here's my response:
As a musician (drummer) I can beyond assure you that there is nothing going on here to seek out and destroy musicians in this city. And if there was, I'd be making an issue out of this, you can be assured of that.
Over the last 22 years, I’ve played in 4 bands. Recorded music with my bands and others on over 13 albums. I’ve produced, arranged and personally financed several albums for local Guelph bands. Some of those even ended up playing at Guelph’s Hillside Festival. Even while on city council presently I still continue to play in my band "Fitness Club Fiasco". I’ve also taught drums for music schools and privately for a dozen students in their homes. When it comes to promoting the arts in this community I pride myself on doing everything I can to help out. I even brought music & culture change to city hall by promoting local musicians and artists to start our council meetings by playing our national anthem.
Bottom line is this: I love music.
I tell you this because I would never subject my fellow musicians, let alone myself, to any bylaw that could stifle our collective creative juices or ability to practice our art in this city.
In over 22 years as a drummer, I’ve never had the surprise knock on my door from city by-law officers to tell me to stop being creative and that the big mean by-law officers are out to “silence the artistic community in Guelph”.
Never. Not once.
In over 22 years, playing with other Guelph bands and artists all over this city, at all times, both outside and inside, have I ever heard from them that they too were given a fine for breaking the noise by-law.
Never. Not once.
To this day without any sound-proofing or expensive music reducing sound barriers, I still practice very loudly in my garage or basement. I’ve never been interrupted by a bang on the garage door to tell me “keep it down”.
Never. Not once.
Since being elected 2 and half years ago, I have never heard, read or felt my "spidey-senses" going off to any deep dark plot to attack musicians through the noise by-law from city staff or fellow councillors.
Never. Not once.
So here are the facts about Guelph’s noise-bylaw and the art community:
1. The wording regarding musicians or instruments was not recently changed at all.
2. Out of the 2733 complaints by-law recieves, less than 5 a year has to do with loud stereos or instruments. (These are grouped together in the same category)
3. Out of those 5, actual ticketing or charges only comes after numerous attempts of education or efforts of finding reasonable solutions to work with effected neighbours & those effected etc...
4. By-law officers have never once, kicked down a door and immediately handed out a ticket to a kid learning to play Aerosmith in his bedroom. As I said, when they're called out to investigate a potential noise violation, their first step is to try to work with you and your affected neighbours through education or other solutions to resolve the issue BEFORE enforcement takes place.
5. The officer uses his/her discretion when addressing these situations. Just as a police officer uses their discretion when handing out a speeding ticket or instead giving you a warning.
I respect anyone's opinion on this but wanted you to know some of the facts and to reassure you that I would be the first to step up, and loudly bang my drums if this bylaw was being abused. But it's not.
Feel free to call me anytime at 519-830-7625
P.S While I got your attention, my band has a show June 22nd at Van Gogh's. Hope you can make it!
Update from STAFF as of May 15th - 1:15pm
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In regards to your letter to the Mayor’s office, please note that the City of Guelph does support the music industry and those wishing to pursue music.
Before I clarify the information printed in the Guelph Mercury, it is important to note, as indicated in the City of Guelph’s Noise Bylaw, noise is defined as sound that is of such a volume or nature that it is likely to disturb the inhabitants of the City of Guelph. Therefore, if any activity, including the playing of music is not likely to disturb others, no violation is occurring.
This being said, there was a recent amendment on February 2013 to the noise Bylaw addressing the following:
• Regulation of air conditioner noise by decibel level.
• Regulation of motorcycle noise by decibel level.
• Amend the prohibition for unnecessary yelling from 11pm to 7am (9am) to 24 hours a day.
• Create a mixed use category within the Bylaw to recognize the diversity within the City’s downtown. Specifically to recognize both residential and business properties and to align the existing residential regulations to the mixed use category.
• Recommend an increase to the set fines of the City’s Noise Bylaw.
The wording in the City’s Noise Bylaw regulating musical instruments has been in effect since 1998 and was not changed in the recent amendment. In addition, the wording and regulation is not unique to the City of Guelph, numerous municipalities across North America use similar if not identical wording when regulating music that may disturb others.
To provide some context, Bylaw staff do respond to calls, in which the use of musical instruments is affecting others. Bylaw staff seek compliance through education with all parties involved. In the majority of cases, the disputes between neighbours are often addressed without charges being issued. Unfortunately, there are a small number of incidents where education is not enough to curb the inappropriate behaviour and circumstances warrant the issuance of charges.
In 2012, of the 2,733 calls attended by Bylaw staff, less than 5 charges were issued for noise caused by musical instruments, most of these charges were with respect to amplified instruments being played late at night, in which previous warnings failed to resolve the issue.
I trust this is of assistance.
Friday Apr 19th - 2013
Some quick Q&A's for Upcoming meeting on April 23rd.
1. What is the purpose of the workshop?
Answer – The purpose of the workshop is to provide information to Council on the elements of Compensation. As you will recall, during the 2013 budget process there was considerable discussion and public delegations regarding compensation and pensions, wherein there was some misinformation put forward. In addition, there was a motion of Council that was subsequently referred to Committee for a broader discussion of FTE’s and gapping – the workshop on Compensation is intended to provide a baseline/shared understanding of Compensation as a precursor to the workshop (now scheduled in September) on FTE’s and gapping.
2. You reference in the report changes to benefits? Is that not going to be difficult to do?
Answer: As indicated in the report, benefit costs at the City have been increasing each year as reported in the HR Annual Report and are higher than our benchmarks. In addition to savings achieved through administrative process changes, the City will be seeking through collective bargaining and working with our union partners ways to modify the benefit plan design to manage costs going forward. This will be guided by balancing fairness to employees and affordability, again as mentioned in the report.
3. Regarding sick time, what are you hoping to achieve with the attendance technology?
Answer: During 2012, the Attendance Support policy, program and technology supports were developed and the new Attendance program was formally launched in January 2013. The technology enables us to provide more meaningful information to Managers/Supervisors about their employees, departmental averages of attendance and those that are exceeding the average who require support/accommodation to ensure regular attendance at work. This is more than Managers/Supervisors knowing who is at work or not. The purpose of an Attendance Management program is to ensure a consistent corporate approach to managing attendance across the City based on established criteria that is well understood by employees, unions and management. There are considerable labour relations/arbitration decisions that highlight this as a requirement for a corporate attendance management program.
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4. If employees are off sick, there really is no cost to the City since they receive their pay correct?
Answer: When employees are off sick and go on Short Term disability they receive 75% of their salary paid from the City’s Insurance provider. Not all employees are replaced when they are off sick- some are however . For example, in Fire, there are minimum staffing requirements, so when a firefighter is off sick, they are replaced, usually paid through overtime of another firefighter- so there are costs to the City for those staff that are replaced. In addition, when staff are off sick and are not replaced, the ‘cost’ is lost productivity for the period when the staff person is off ill.
Friday Apr 19th - 2013
Guelph recognized as international hot spot for investment activity
GUELPH, ON, April 17, 2013 – Compared to 422 cities in North and South America, Guelph has ranked 5th in economic potential for a small city and 10th in business friendliness for a small city by fDi Magazine’s “American Cities of the Future” bi-annual rankings.
“It is no secret that Guelph is primed for investment with our abundant supply of employment land, proximity to large Canadian and US markets and high quality of life,” says Peter Cartwright, General Manager for Guelph Economic Development. “We can link much of our success to the expansions Guelph has seen in recent years, the Hitachi expansion alone was recognized by fDi Intelligence as the top job creation project in the province for 2012.”
Guelph was shortlisted based on points awarded in investment readiness and economic stability such as a low unemployment rate, low inflation, high credit rating and the growth of the knowledge-based sector.
Attraction and retention activities were topics of great discussion at the Guelph Wellington Economic Summit held by Mayor Karen Farbridge and Warden Chris White earlier this year. “The City of Guelph is committed to building a diverse and prosperous local economy that attracts jobs, investment and talent to our community. Rankings like this demonstrate that Guelph is a good place to do business,” said Mayor Farbridge.
About fDi Magazine
fDi Magazine is a specialist publication which reports on cross-border investment and is read
by senior-level executives at multinational corporations and others involved in corporate
greenfield site-selection decisions. A bimonthly publication, fDi Magazine is part of the fDi
Intelligence division of the Financial Times
About American Cities of the Future rankings
To create the shortlist of 'American Cities of the Future 2013/14', fDi's research team collected data using the specialist online FDI tools fDi Benchmark and fDi Markets as well as other sources. Data was collected for 422 cities under five categories. Cities scored up to a maximum of 10 points under each individual data point, which were weighted by importance to the FDI decision making process in order to compile both the subcategory rankings as well as the overall ‘American Cities of the Future’ ranking.
For complete methodology and a full list of data points for each category click here.
For a link to the report click here.
Friday Apr 19th - 2013
Good evening Mayor Farbridge and Councillors,
This email is to inform Council of a decision to extend the completion date of the Parking Master Plan study from March, 2013 to July 2013. The final report, inclusive of recommendations, will be submitted to the July 29th, 2013 meeting of Council.
By way of background, during the 2012 budget deliberation process council approved $100,000 to undertake a Master Parking Study within the downtown. The study Request for Proposal (RFP) was prepared and issued with a closing date of October 15, 2012, and a proposed completion date of the end of April 2013 with a view to reporting to Council in May 2013.
After the initial Public Information Session on February 26th, 2013 the study Steering Committee, comprised of staff from various departments and external stakeholders (i.e. the Downtown Guelph Business Association), realized that an extension to the completion date would be required for a more comprehensive community engagement process. In addition, it was recommended by the Steering Committee that Council should be made aware of, and approve, the Guiding Principles in advance of the final report to allow for a more focused approach. The extension will still allow sufficient time for any financial implications from the recommendations to be addressed through the 2014, and beyond, Operational and Capital budgets. Finally, please note that there will be no additional financial costs accredited to the extension of the project schedule. The study will be completed within the budget allocated.
STAFFview comments (0)
Friday Apr 19th - 2013
Article is posted at:
Our review of the article indicates an incorrect statement:
"There will be further construction on Victoria Road in 2014 from Stone Road north to the bridge over the Eramosa River."
The timing indicated in the article statement is incorrect as the future timing for road reconstruction in the area is for Stone Road from Victoria Road to Gordon Street to undergo construction in 2014 with Victoria Road from Stone Road to the bridge over the Eramosa River being forecasted for subsequent years, pending development of the adjacent Guelph Innovation District lands.
We have advised the Mercury and are working with them on this correction.
Friday Apr 19th - 2013
These were the rough notes and remarks that I wrote before going to the audit committee meeting this week. Since no-one from the public was there I thought it best to share them here.
ITEM #1 - CVOR ISSUE
1. First of all I want to thank our CAO for recognizing this issue when the MTO letter revealed less then stellar results. As the administration director you did the right thing on this and may I also add that you made the call quickly. When so much in government seems to go at a snails pace, this was triggered, investigated and responded to appropriately. So thank you.
2. I want to thank our new internal auditor Loretta. You should have been hired years ago and if cloning were allowed I’d put a motion down to make several of you. This is your first audit and I cannot overstate how professional this report is. You did exactly what you needed to do, to root out the issues of concern, and then make the recommendations to our staff. This particular audit was vital. Because not only does it show missing pieces, or provide efficiencies, it deals with the safety of our employees and the citizens we are called to serve. If this is the type of detail we are to expect from future audits then I hope I’m around for a very long time.
3. Lastly, to all of the staff who had to endure their first audit, where you have to be vulnerable, accessible and open about these issues, I can’t thank you enough. You are an example to the rest of the staff who may just have to go through a future audit themselves.
4. As someone who for a living deals with risk management and insurance on fleets, I can assure you that whoever insures our auto fleet in this city is going to be very happy & in-turn, if these recommendations are implemented properly and adhered to, over the long run, I am sure they should result in lower premiums. And lower premiums means we save the taxpayers more money. And getting a better handle on the safety issues will only reduce the risk of bodily injury, property damage or the potential for lawsuits.
5. This audit worked as it should. Issue identified, scoped, recommendations offered and a implementation plan put in place.
6. But now comes the accountability part. I am sure not only this committee, but the residents now have a clear measuring stick to determine if all of us will be accountable to this issue. And I’m sure we will.
ITEM #2 - FURTHER VALUE FOR MONEY AUDITS
• The $500,000 efficiency target was approved by council at the budget in December.
• This report would not have existed had it not been for this committee requesting “OVER AND ABOVE” value for money audits. Therefore, these new audits should not be used to meet the $500,000 efficiency target. In fact, there is never any pre-determined outcome from an audit, that it will result in efficiencies found. So if these further approved audits so happen to result in efficiencies, then it’s gravy over and above the $500,000.
• The point of an efficiency target was for all to be looking out for savings. Not for the weight of this target to rest solely on our internal auditor.
POTENTIAL MOTION: Amendment
And, that recommendations or potential efficiencies from report CAO-A-1304 not contribute to the efficiency target for 2013.