Ward 4 News

Councillor - Christine Billings

Wednesday Oct 30th - 2013

Oct 30th, 2013

I snapped this photo this morning showing the work being done on the Costco gas station. It's coming along! A review shown here makes me think and hope for these type of prices for Guelph!

Cam Guthrie

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Tuesday Oct 22nd - 2013

From Staff - Oct 22nd, 2013

The meeting today consisted of a half hour presentation along with a one and a half hour Q and A session for residents to ask questions about cart waste collection in their neighbourhood and lasted from approximately 6:00 to 8:00 pm . The meeting was a presentation to review how cart collection would work on the properties for Sifton Properties, which Manages approximately 490 rental households in the Janefield/Scottsdale Area. This meeting was facilitated by Sifton Properties Vice President Peter Neil as well as Kim McKellistrum, Operations Manager.  Sifton Properties is scheduled to move to cart collection this fall. The meeting occurred at the Guelph Holiday Inn.
Currently waste is collected in this neighbourhood by City staff, after it is moved by Sifton Properties Staff from individual residents doors to collection points outside the property.  Alternatively it is also collected  by City staff in bags at some of the homes where we are able to have trucks travel through their neighbourhood.
Residents are concerned that this at their door service will not continue to be provided.  They were also concerned about aesthetics of carts being stored in their neighbourhood and discouraging illegal dumping and unsorted waste.
The meeting allowed for an opportunity to review benefits and the environmental  gains, cost and cleanliness benefits of moving away from a bag based system in which they are putting their waste out in charge piles. During our presentation we reviewed ways we could improve their services such as increasing the frequency to twice per week reducing the number of carts from approximately 350 to 100 throughout this large complex. Also moving cart collection inside the complex closer to their homes where we currently do not travel and eliminating charge piles from the curb. The increased frequency would allow extra large carts to be used at communal collection points and reduce the amount of carts required to be stored to approximately one set of three carts for every ten households. It would also allow residents the opportunity to set waste out at any time of day or any day as opposed to storing the waste inside their home as they currently do. We have also had trucks travel through locations inside their complex to allow for storage of carts inside their complex at locations that are convenient to their homes.  We also offered to  provide in unit recycling containers to all homes so that they were no longer required to purchase plastic bags for recycling.
Residents were also advised that how waste is stored inside the property would be up to them, as well as the Management team at Sifton Properties. There are several methods that this can help with aesthetics, including natural screening to enhance their green spaces, or shielding and the methods used could be determined between themselves and the property management.
Residents asked several times about tax rebates for going with private service and when they did so were encouraged to visit the website at www.guelph.ca/waste, and participate in the Solid Waste Master Plan process to have their voices heard in this opportunity to participate in shaping the future of waste collection in the City.
Peter Neil from Sifton Properties  was also offered and encouraged to attend the Solid Waste Management Master Plan focus group meeting for Multi-Residential properties tomorrow or to have a staff representative participate in the process.
We also committed to this being a process for them and were willing to address issues such as overflowing carts with additional carts, or more frequent collection, moving carts to different storage locations if they create issues for residents. We agreed that we would meet several times with Sifton Management, or themselves again if required to address ongoing concerns as they transition through this process to ensure they have solutions that work for them.
Residents were also notified that their concerns would be passed on to the team working on the Solid Waste Management Master Plan.
If you have any further concerns please contact me.
Thank you
Chad Scott | Manager, Collection Services
[phone] 519.767.0598, ext. 2070

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Tuesday Oct 22nd - 2013

Councillor Ian Findlay sent this around to all members of council this morning for consideration:


Thank you,


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Saturday Oct 19th - 2013

1)  The most obvious question is - How did this happen?  Is it that trucks are using a road they shouldn't?  Is the bridge too low?  Maybe a brief explanation of the problem, as the city sees it.


The final surface asphalt and the crash beams for the bridge were recently installed. The work was completed on Friday, October 11, 2013. Since that time there has been approximately four reported incidents of transport trailer trucks scraping the beams. The crash beams were originally clearly marked as “Clearance 4.0 metres” and advance signage leading up to the bridge has also indicated the crash beam clearance. It would appear that transport trailer trucks were not seeing or heeding the advance signs and crash beam signs and proceeding to drive under the crash beams.

In response to these reports and details on the incidents from Guelph Police Services, City staff decided to revise the signage to indicate “Clearance 3.8 metres” as a temporary measure since the incidents that had occurred prior to Friday, October 18, 2013 indicated that there may be a difference in the clearance for transport trailer trucks approaching the crash beams and the clearance directly under the crash beam. Staff will be reviewing the design of the crash beams and roads approaching the beams to determine what improvements can be implemented.

However, even this change in signage to indicate 3.8 metre clearance  did not stop a transport truck from trying to proceed under the crash beam this morning (Saturday October, 19, 2013) that resulted in another incident and the City closing the road for public safety   

2)  What can the city do to prevent trucks from using Wyndham st.?

Though Wyndham Street is not a designated truck route, the City does recognize that deliveries on non-truck routes is permissible. Increased signage may be a possibility to deter trucks from using Wyndham as a through route. Advising local trucking companies about the crash beam clearance may also assist in this regard.

We understand from Guelph Police Services that some of the trucks that were involved in incidents with the crash beams may have been depending on their GPS devices to reach their destination and may not have been informed of other alternative routes. We will be exploring how the crash beam clearance information can get tied in with GPS systems.  

3)  Is the city looking at excavating and re-paving the Wyndham?

The City will explore all viable options. This particular option of excavating and repaving may be limited in improving the situation due to the underground infrastructure and road slope constraints.

3a) If digging up the street is a possibility, any way to calculate a cost for that?

Since we will be exploring options, it would be premature for me to comment on possible cost of this option as it may not be the appropriate solution


I also have a few bullet questions that are, hopefully, really easy to answer as well:


1) How tall is the bridge?  You were quoted as saying it's 4.1 meters.  The police release says it's 4.0.  And the sign says it's 3.8 metres.


The bridge itself has a clearance of 4.2 metres. The crash beams are set at 0.1 metres less than the bridge at 4.1 metres and the original Clearance sign stated 4.0 metres to provide a 0.1 metre allowance. The revised sign of 3.8 metres was implemented as a temporary deterrent measure until a permanent solution could be implemented.

2) What is the slope of Wyndham St running north?


Sorry I don’t have that technical information on hand at the moment.

In the end, staff from Engineering, Public Works and Guelph Police Services will be working together to further investigate and address the road and crash beam designs. Hope this information helps.

Do you know how long it will be closed?


We will be exploring options to get Wyndham Street between Carden and Farquhar open as soon as possible. We hope that we can implement some improvements that will allow us to reopen the road by the end of next week. 

Is this going to committee at any point?


Our current plan is for staff to further investigate and implement viable options to improve the situation. At this time, I don't believe the matter will be going to committee. 

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Friday Oct 18th - 2013

A resident requested info about CAO expenses. Mayor Farbridge has responded:


Your request for information regarding the CAO has been forwarded to me for a response as this position reports directly to Council.
Ms. Pappert’s employment contract states:
Moving Allowance:
The Employee shall be provided with a one-time moving allowance to recompense the Employee for costs related to her relocation to the City of Guelph. These costs may include but are not limited to the sale and purchase of homes, temporary relocation and moving costs. The payment of this one-time moving allowance will be made in accordance with the following schedule:
(i)  a maximum of $20,000 if the Employee’s residency in Guelph commences within the first 18 months of this Agreement. The Employee shall provide receipts proving any such expenses to the satisfaction of the Chief Financial Officer. In the event that the employment of the Employee is terminated for cause or as a result of her resignation, during the first two (2) years following the payment of such allowance, the said moving allowance shall be fully refunded by the Employee.
While we cannot require a CAO to live in our municipality, Council included this clause in the employment contract as an incentive for the CAO to move to Guelph.  
The employment contract began October 17, 2011. Therefore this incentive was offered until April 17, 2013.  Ms. Pappert moved the first week of March 2013.
Ms. Pappert was reimbursed $20,000 to offset submitted expenses that exceeded this amount for real estate and legal costs related to the sale of a home in Waterloo and the purchase of a home in Guelph, as well as moving expenses.
We are very pleased that our CAO has demonstrated her commitment to our community in such a tangible way in making the significant decision to move to Guelph.

Karen Farbridge | Mayor
T 519-837-5643  
E mayor@guelph.ca
The City that makes a difference!

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Friday Oct 18th - 2013

Recieved from group "Fair Pensions for All" Oct 18th, 2013

There is a Clear and Present Danger

The current OMERS pension plan design presents a systemic risk to the Ontario municipalities. Even under the most optimistic scenarios, pension costs will drain money from taxpayers and decimate essential government services. Reforms to date are not structural and have had little or no impact on the ever-growing unfunded liability.

The current debate continues to revolve around laying blame for the OMERS shortfall but more demanding of attention is that the Drummond report has made it clear that the responsibility for the $10 Billion OMERS shortfall no longer rests with OMERS. The Drummond report made it clear that the responsibility for the $10 Billion OMERS shortfall no longer rests with the province. Cities must now shoulder the burden. With an estimated 263,000 employees covered by OMERS the shortfall works out to $38,000 per worker in the plan. How much does this add onto the liability of your city?

Despite warnings since the crisis in 2008 nothing has been done to prevent the serious damage that will be done by the OMERS pension shortfall. It adds a significant debt onto the already troubling debt of cities in our province. Ontario cities currently owe $17 Billion in debt and another $5 Billion in future employee benefits to its employees, cities are out of money. In addition the $10 Billion pension liability shortfall falls directly onto the backs of taxpayers.

Many municipalities in the province are beginning to strain under the burden of the financial crisis. The implications of this are dangerous for cities as services are cut, taxes rise and businesses are forced to move to more competitive regions.  

As debt and liabilities increase and the infrastructure deficit grows, the city is forced to dip into reserves to fund its operating expenses. Compounding this threat is the fact that in Ontario, cities compensation costs have risen over 80% from 2002 to 2011. These costs cannot be rolled back and over 14,000 municipal employees in the province are on the Sunshine List with promised pensions worth 70% of that income.

The Pension promises made are overly generous. The system has been and subject to abuse by legislators and other officials handing out political favors, and by employees. In fact, whatever city managers have negotiated on behalf of taxpayers in the form of benefits and pensions, they have received themselves. Now most seniors city managers on fully qualified OMERS pensions will receive in excess of $3 million of lifetime compensation from these plans.

It was as recent as 2006 that benefits were increased for fire and police services employees. Pension eligibility was reduced to 50 years of age and the accrual rate was increased to 2.33% so that after 30 years the employees will receive 69.9% of their average final salaries in pension payments. In Ottawa, the average retirement age for protections services is 55. This means that these employees will collect pensions on average for over 30 years.

The OMERS pension plan is using outdated estimates for its financial reports. Recent findings on life expectancies will add billions more liability onto the plan, increasing its shortfall. Another recent study finds that public sector employees live longer and RCMP, for example, reach older ages because they  “have a stringent health medical test at entry and 40 years later, so we could see the difference in their mortality rates” reports the Chief Actuary of Canada.

There is no excuse for the current situation given the clear evidence of the financial burden that we are afflicting on non recipient tax payers and our youth Changes to the plan must be made now before its too late.

Please contact:
Gareth Neilson, Director of Communications, 226 378 3508
Bill Tufts, Founder, 905 741 1904

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Friday Oct 18th - 2013

Ignite Guelph is back after the successful Spring event in April.  Please see the attached press release for more information about the next event on Friday October 25th at the Guelph Youth Music Centre.

Contact Candice or Danny at info@igniteguelph.ca for more information.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Ignite Guelph Sophomore Event

Guelph, Ontario – October 17, 2013 –

Enlighten us, but make it quick. That’s the theme of Ignite, a geek event held in over 100 cities worldwide.

On October 25th, 2013, Guelph will play host to Ignite Guelph 2. After this Spring’s successful Ignite Guelph series launch the team is back with 12 new speakers on a variety of topics that will build the Guelph community. Ignite Guelph 2 will take place at the Guelph Youth Music Centre on Friday October 25, 2013 at 6 p.m.

Ignite talks are designed to highlight topics of interest to the audience in a novel way. Presenters share their personal and professional passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just five minutes. At the first Ignite Guelph in April topics included the importance of being nice, how comic strips convey meaning, and how asking naïve questions can create innovative solutions.

“Our first event was a smashing success and I know it wasn’t simply beginner’s luck”, says member of the organizing team Sean Yo. “We have an incredible team of amazing volunteers who are all great at what they do” says Yo, pointing out that Ignite Guelph 2 has a completely volunteer team of 10 people.

Pre-sales to ticket holders from the first event have already pushed registration well past the half-way mark. According to Yo, “Our first Ignite Guelph was so successful at bringing together people and ideas in a grassroots, community way that we’ve had ticket holders from Ignite Guelph 1 sign up to speak at this event.”

Further information and tickets can be found at igniteguelph.ca.

Candice Lepage

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Friday Oct 18th - 2013

Email from Staff to Council: Oct 18th, 2013

In response to the inquiry RE: city police have issued a warning to truck drivers

•    4.0 metre clearance is posted on the crash beams
•    Actual clearance under beam is 4.1 metres, the 0.1 metres is the design allowance for the crash beams
•    Staff believe that the slope of the road approaching the bridge and the location of the crash beams may be contributing factors to the conflicts at the bridge with transport trailers
•    Staff is doing additional field measurements to determine if the clearance signs should be revised based on the field measurements
•    Field work to be completed today and revisions to signs could be next week, additional warning signs is also being considered
•    Engineering is working with Public Works on this matter
•    Consideration to increasing the clearance from previous bridge clearance of 4.0 metres was reviewed during design of the new bridge but due to the increased thickness of bridge deck to meet current standards and existence of underground infrastructure, we were restricted in our design to achieve greater clearance under the bridge
•    Wyndham Street is not a designated truck route
•    Standard require bridges with clearance less than 5.3 metres to require clearance signs


Further Info sent to downtown Guelph management:

Good afternoon,

Since the installation of the new crash beams at the Wyndham Street bridge, there have been three reported incidents with commercial transport trucks having issues with clearance. Fortunately, there has been no injury as a result of these incidents. The City has been working with Guelph Police to ensure the bridge and crash beam meet the height requirements for transport truck traffic. In order to ensure the safety of truck operators and the public, the City will be revising the height restriction signage from 4.0 m to 3.8 m to help prevent further incidents. The signage on the crash beams at the bridge will be changed to read 3.8 m this evening. In addition, signage along Wyndham Street, at Fountain Street, Farquhar Street and Carden Street to warn drivers about the bridge clearance up ahead will also be revised to indicate 3.8 m clearance. This is a short term solution, until the City has had an opportunity to further investigate and address the road and crash beam design.
In the meantime, we ask that you communicate this change to your vendors, and they in turn communicate it to their delivery truck drivers. The Wyndham Street bridge is restricted to any commercial vehicles or trucks exceeding a height of 3.8 metres.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Thank you,


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Friday Oct 18th - 2013

Good afternoon Councillor Guthrie,

Just a reminder confirmation for the following dates and times to meet the students in Council Chambers. The visit is limited to 30 minutes and I will be there to help you wrap up should you need me. I have prepared a gift bag for each of the classes that you can present to the teacher. It contains materials about government for the students.

Thursday, October 24 at 1:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, October 29 at 9:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Tuesday, October 29 at 10:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Please plan to arrive a few minutes early if possible so that we are ready to begin as soon as the students arrive. I plan to be at Service Guelph to greet the students and usher them into Council Chambers.

Thank you again for your support of Local Government Week.


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Friday Oct 18th - 2013

Wellington Street, (Macdonell Street to Neeve Street)

The reconstruction of Wellington Street (from Macdonell Street to Neeve Street) is tentatively scheduled to begin on Monday, October 21 with anticipated completion, weather permitting, by early December 2013. The City is working with E&E Seegmiller Ltd. to replace the sanitary sewer, watermain, storm sewer, curb, gutter, sidewalk and roadway. Residents and business owners can contact Andrew Janes, Interim Manager Infrastructure Planning; Design & Construction, to view the plans of the project at Guelph City Hall. City staff will be able to answer questions regarding maintenance of traffic, access to properties, and the reconstruction project.

If you are displaced by construction, please contact the
Parking Office at 519-822-1260 x2888.

A company by the name of dBA Environmental Services Inc. may contact you to arrange an interior/exterior inspection of your home and/or building. This inspection is a proactive measure intended to assess whether or not a property has any existing damage. This information will be used to determine the contractor's responsibility in the unlikely event of property damage during the reconstruction.

No private sanitary sewer or water services will be affected by this construction.

Every effort will be made to maintain water service to individual properties during the reconstruction. However, there will be a short term water shutdown in the Neeve/Wellington area to allow the connection of the new watermain to the existing watermain. Advance written notice will be provided prior to any planned service interruption.

Waste collection will not be impacted by the reconstruction. Please continue to place your green, blue and clear waste bags at the curb as per your regularly scheduled collection time.

Mr. Bob Richardson is the construction inspector for this project. Please feel free to contact Bob at 519-710-0041 regarding any construction issues.

The City of Guelph will make every effort to minimize inconvenience during the Wellington Street reconstruction project. We appreciate your patience, understanding and co-operation during this important infrastructure renewal project. Construction information and updates are available on the City’s website at guelph.ca/construction.


Peter Fitzgerald, P.Eng.                     Bob Richardson,
Project Manager                        Construction Inspector
Stantec                            Engineering Services,
49 Frederick Street    City of Guelph    
Kitchener ON    N2H 6M7                    1 Carden Street
T 519-585-7437                        Guelph ON  N1H 3A1
F 519-579-8664                        T 519-710-0041
E peter.fitzgerald@stantec.com                F 519-822-6028
                                E bob.richardson@guelph.ca

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Friday Oct 18th - 2013

INFORMATION ITEMS: Week Ending October 18, 2013


1.    2013 Downtown Façade Improvement Grant, Feasibility Study Grant, and Minor Downtown Activation Grant – Awarded Projects


1.    Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) and Residential & Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) – Report on County of Wellington Bridges


1.    Committee of Adjustment – September 24, 2013 Minutes


1.    Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) – October, 2013 Current
2.    Guelph Cemetery Commission – Resignation from Terry Petrie
3.    Municipal Information Form – Liquor Licence Application – Guelph Keg Steakhouse and Bar, 49 Clair Road East

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Friday Oct 18th - 2013

Federation of Canadian Municipalities Response to CETA:
October 18, 2013
Dear Members,
FCM has released this statement from me following the prime minister’s announcement this morning of an agreement in principle with the European Union on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
Based on a briefing from federal officials this morning, it appears that the agreement respects FCM’s seven principles (see below) for fair and free international trade. Most importantly, the government appears to have delivered on its commitment to respect two important principles: reasonable procurement thresholds, and Canadian content for strategic industries or sensitive projects.  
If you have any questions on this subject, please contact Adam Thompson, senior policy advisor, 613-907-6247.
Claude Dauphin

Municipal principles for free and fair international trade:
1. Reasonable procurement thresholds: Inappropriately low or broad procurement thresholds may force municipalities to tender projects when tendering is neither practical nor financially justified.
2. Streamlined administration: Ensuring that municipal procurement policies are free-trade compliant will likely create new costs and may require specialized expertise. The administrative design of these rules must be as streamlined as possible and developed in close cooperation with municipal procurement practitioners.
3. Progressive enforcement: Enforcing provisions of any deal should be progressive, starting with verbal or public warnings before moving to financial penalties, and should recognize and not penalize inadvertent non-compliance, particularly in cases where municipalities do not have the expertise to appropriate apply the rules.
4. Canadian content for strategic industries or sensitive projects: A trade deal must recognize strategic and public interest considerations before barring all preferential treatment based on country of origin. There may be industries of strategic significance to a particular region, such as transit, or projects where considerations of quality, public benefit, environmental protection or business ethics means that a local government may wish to implement minimum Canadian-content levels. This should be allowed, within reason.
5. Dispute resolution: A dispute-resolution process, like the one in NAFTA, may require a careful review of the municipal role in that process so they can appropriately defend their policies and by-laws as an order of government.
6. Consultation and communications: Consultation and communications during negotiations are required to ensure any resulting agreement responds to municipal concerns.
7. Reciprocity: Canada´s negotiating position must support reciprocity in Canadian and foreign municipal procurement practices.

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Tuesday Oct 15th - 2013

OHHHH YEAH! I'm really excited to host several tours of students coming down to city hall this month!! I especially love it when I get the students to play the part of the mayor and us councillors while asking them to think of ideas for the city and then they have to vote on those ideas! It's amazing wht the outcomes are sometimes!! HA! Below is an email from staff about these tours! Get ready kids! I'm looking forward to seeing you!



Good afternoon Councillors,

Thank you very much for volunteering to assist in class visits to City Hall during Local Government Week. We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of students who will be visiting City Hall and at this point we have close to 800 students booked to visit us throughout the week. The students are looking forward to the upcoming visits in Council Chambers with you.

In preparation for the event, please find attached a guideline of speaking notes that you are welcome to refer to when preparing to meet with the students.

I would like to take the opportunity to share the Local Government Week Facebook page with you and would be delighted if you would share it with your followers or post the link to your blog to help us promote the event to teachers and students. https://www.facebook.com/events/535063739906676/

Please feel free to connect with me if you have any questions.


Suzanne Holder | Project Coordinator
Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
Corporate Administration
City of Guelph

T 519-822-1260 x 2270 | F 519-822-8277
E suzanne.holder@guelph.ca

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Sunday Oct 13th - 2013

From Staff:

in response to CSS’s Annual Report presented last evening that identified our playground replacements as falling behind schedule.

Hartsland Park: I confirmed the noted structure was one of (11) units replaced in 2013---the retrofit total included 2012 approved funding, along with that allocated for 2013.

I confirmed that all of our structures are inspected on a monthly basis using the CSA’s National Standard for Playspaces and Equipment as a reference document, and that the inspection data gathered by staff is tracked electronically. The information is used to develop an annual audit of our structures which informs our replacement priorities, along with daily maintenance priorities.  I noted that playground structures typically have a lifecycle of (15) years for capital budgeting purposes and that on occasion and subject to wear and tear, playgrounds that are due for replacement will be deferred to address units ranked as a higher priority, but perhaps ‘newer’.

The Guelph Lake playground structure was used as a model due for replacement in 2014, subject to the $400K+ capital funds being approved as part of this year’s capital budget request. The structure demonstrated staff’s actions to eliminate a hazardous clatter bridge by removing the connecting component and boarding-up the accesses on the structures.  I confirmed that rather than spending limited 2013 operating funds on a replacement bridge component for a playground structure anticipated for replacement in 2014, the structure was made safe and still affords play value until such time as the structure is replaced. I noted that staff have developed a (10) year capital forecast as part of our playground retrofit program and that our replacement total is in the millions over that time line.  I confirmed Council would only approve only the current year as part of the budget process.



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Sunday Oct 13th - 2013

From: S.T
Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2013 3:12 PM
To: CAO; Mayors Office
Cc: Todd Salter
Subject: Staff Commendation - Sylvia Kirkwood and Michael Witmer

I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the efforts of Sylvia Kirkwood and Michael Witmer of the Planning Department for their work related to the Site Plan Approval for the Zehrs foodstore now under construction at Clair and Gordon. As you are aware, Loblaw has a significant presence in the Guelph market and we have processed many applications through Staff over the years.  Although our interaction with Staff has always been cordial, I found the management approach followed by Sylvia and Mike to be much more satisfying.  Their professionalism and competency was excellent and their willingness to solve problems was extremely refreshing. I look forward to working with them again on future applications. Please ensure that this correspondence is added to their respective personal files.


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Sunday Oct 13th - 2013

Upcoming Upcoming Public Workshop -

Downtown Guelph: St. George's Square and Key Downtown Streetscapes

We are working to shape a new, progressive Downtown Guelph. A revitalized St. George’s Square and improved streetscapes are important components of the Downtown’s public realm.

Council adopted the Downtown Secondary Plan (DSP) in 2012, which anticipates more residents and businesses in the city’s core. Based on this, the City is updating its implementation tools to reflect the directions of the DSP which includes an update to the Downtown Streetscape Manual (previously called the Downtown Public Realm Manual, 2001) and the Downtown Built Form Standards (previously called the Downtown Private Realm Manual, 2001).  

Join the conversation:
You are invited to participate in an upcoming interactive public workshop to provide input into rethinking St. George’s Square. Building on the success of Market Square and Carden Street, this workshop will explore applying the same design principles to improve St. George’s Square as a destination for people of all ages. How could the physical design of the space better support what we want to do there? This workshop builds upon the Placemaking public workshop that was held in March 2013 and the Streetscape workshop held in June 2013.

Wednesday, October 23
6:30-9 p.m.
Guelph City Hall, 1 Carden Street.

This work will be used to provide direction for future capital projects including road reconstruction in the Downtown core.

Who should attend?
•    All interested citizens
•    Residents of the Downtown, bordering neighbourhoods, and land owners with an interest in the Downtown
•    Business owners/operators and employees working in the Downtown
Related workshop materials can be found at guelph.ca/placemaking on October 16, 2013.

For more information
David de Groot, Senior Urban Designer
Planning Services
City of Guelph
T 519-837-5616 x 2358
E david.deGroot@guelph.ca and Key Downtown Streetscapes

We are working to shape a new, progressive Downtown Guelph. A revitalized St. George’s Square and improved streetscapes are important components of the Downtown’s public realm.

Council adopted the Downtown Secondary Plan (DSP) in 2012, which anticipates more residents and businesses in the city’s core. Based on this, the City is updating its implementation tools to reflect the directions of the DSP which includes an update to the Downtown Streetscape Manual (previously called the Downtown Public Realm Manual, 2001) and the Downtown Built Form Standards (previously called the Downtown Private Realm Manual, 2001).  

Join the conversation
You are invited to participate in an upcoming interactive public workshop to provide input into rethinking St. George’s Square. Building on the success of Market Square and Carden Street, this workshop will explore applying the same design principles to improve St. George’s Square as a destination for people of all ages. How could the physical design of the space better support what we want to do there? This workshop builds upon the Placemaking public workshop that was held in March 2013 and the Streetscape workshop held in June 2013.

Wednesday, October 23
6:30-9 p.m.
Guelph City Hall, 1 Carden Street.

This work will be used to provide direction for future capital projects including road reconstruction in the Downtown core.

Who should attend?
•    All interested citizens
•    Residents of the Downtown, bordering neighbourhoods, and land owners with an interest in the Downtown
•    Business owners/operators and employees working in the Downtown
Related workshop materials can be found at guelph.ca/placemaking on October 16, 2013.

For more information
David de Groot, Senior Urban Designer
Planning Services
City of Guelph
T 519-837-5616 x 2358
E david.deGroot@guelph.ca

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Sunday Oct 13th - 2013

Hello Cam,
I hope that this finds you well and looking forward to the Thanksgiving long weekend!
I am writing to ask for your help with the circulation of a neighbourhood survey.
The survey has been prepared by the Research Students at the University of Guelph to inform the neighbourhood's effort to establish a west-end Neighbourhood Market.
We problem solved quickly and came up with a survey, some Focus Groups and Key Informant interviews.


This survey is for the potential Consumer and also for potential Vendors, someone with skills and talents that might have a place at a west-end Neighbourhood Market stall!
Any help you could provide would be sincerely appreciated.

Many thanks
Linda Busuttil

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Sunday Oct 13th - 2013

Hello there,

I am emailing to inform/remind the Mayor’s Office and members of Council about the resources available to help answer questions about proposed water and wastewater rate changes. We hope you find this information helpful when answering questions from constituents.




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Sunday Oct 13th - 2013

Council to discuss proposed water and wastewater rates
Non-tax-supported budget presentation takes place October 24
Guelph, ON, October 11, 2013 – Community members are invited to comment on proposed changes to the City’s Water and Wastewater Services, Building Code Administration and Court Services budgets. The City will present the Non-tax-supported portion of Guelph’s Financial Strategy on Thursday, October 24 at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall.
“As part of Guelph’s Financial Strategy, the proposed Non-tax-supported Operating and Capital Budget continues to focus on taking care of what we own, and enhancing City services in a way that is affordable for residents and businesses in Guelph” said Al Horsman, executive director of Finance and Enterprise Services. “Investments in infrastructure renewal, system optimization and technology upgrades are strengthening how the City works, and improving service to the community.”
Water and Wastewater Services
By optimizing water and wastewater systems, and using waster wisely, Guelph has made the most of its existing infrastructure and deferred millions of dollars in capital investments. In 2014, the City plans to invest approximately $9.2 million to renew aging water and wastewater infrastructure, and another $18.6 million in growth-related upgrades and expansions to water and wastewater storage, treatment and distribution systems.
The City also plans to continue building reserve funds to ensure a safe and reliable water supply as the City continues to grow. Continued infrastructure upgrades will further reduce the risk of system failures, and expensive emergency repairs.
“Successful water conservation and infrastructure renewal programs allow us to bring in the lowest rate increase in more than 5 years,” said Janet Laird, Executive Director of Planning, Building, Engineering and Environment. “In 2014, we’re reviewing and refining our forecasting methods as part of the update to Guelph’s Water and Wastewater Long Range Financial Plan, and will establish affordable and predictable water and wastewater rate forecast for the years ahead.”
Proposed 2014 water/wastewater charges
Proposed Charges                                               2013    2014    Change
water volume – $/cubic metre (m3)                     $1.38    $1.43    $0.05
water basic – $/day                                              $0.24    $0.25    $0.01
wastewater volume – $/cubic metre (m3)           $1.52    $1.59    $0.07
wastewater basic – $/day                                    $0.31    $0.31    $0.00
Average residential annual bill (200 m3* consumption, January 1 rate change) $781 $808 $27 or 3.5%. *City estimate of average annual volume of water consumed by a Guelph household of 3 people. View more information about water and wastewater rates.
Building Services
The proposed $2.9 million operating and $7,400 2014 capital budget includes continued investments to improve the City’s online building permit application system, and enhance service to residential and commercial customers.
Court Services
Court Services found efficiencies in its operations which allow the department to make better use of staff resources. The proposed $3.6 million operating and $63,000 2014 capital budget includes plans to implement convenient e-ticket processes.
View the proposed 2014-2023 Non-tax-supported Operating and Capital Budget
View all budget documents at guelph.ca/budget. Residents planning to address City Council regarding the proposed budget for Water and Wastewater Services, Court Services and Ontario Building Code Administration are invited to call 519-837-5603 or email clerks@guelph.ca by 9 a.m. on Friday, October 18.
For more information
Al Horsman
Executive Director/Chief Financial Officer
Finance and Enterprise Services
519-822-1260 extension 5606
Water and Wastewater Services
Janet Laird
Executive Director
Planning, Building, Engineering and Environment
519-822-1260 extension 2237
Ontario Building Code Administration
Bruce Poole
General Manager/Chief Building Official
Building Services
519-822-1260 extension 2375
Provincial Offences Court
Brad Coutts
Manager Court Services
519-822-1260 extension 2909

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Sunday Oct 13th - 2013

Oct 10th, 2013

1)    What are the main drivers behind a water/wastewater rate increase?

In 2014, the rate change driving a bill increase of 3.5 per cent is largely due to increases in: financial contributions for future water and wastewater infrastructure and infrastructure renewal ($2,190,000), proposed new staff expansions and honoring contractual agreements for staff (about $484,000), and increasing internal utility support costs for items such as source water protection, energy, fuel, legal services, human resources ($334,000).

2)    What have been the main drivers for higher rates in the last few years?

Infrastructure sustainability, including closing gap in our sustainable infrastructure funding, as wells as dealing with a backlog in funding for both water and wastewater, have been the main drivers for recent year rate increases.

3)    Why is this year’s proposed rate increase lower than in recent years?

Water and wastewater, with the aid of recent rate increases, have both been approaching sustainable funding targets for infrastructure.  Water is close to being sustainable with funding levels at over 90% of the target.  Wastewater is close behind.  Both Departments are currently reviewing their position and funding goals as part of the update to our Long Range Financial Plan which will set a course for future rate increases as needed.

4)    Aren’t rate increase inevitable if you continue to have success with lowering the amount of water used by customers?

Yes, as Water and Wastewater are fully funded from the amount of water we sell (and wastewater we treat), as demand decreases and expenditures increase, rates will continue to rise.  These increases may be perceived as penalizing customers who lower their demand but that is not necessarily the case.  Demand reductions keep operating and maintenance costs low, extends the life of existing infrastructure, and delays the need for future expensive capital replacements and upgrades.  Without ongoing optimization and efficient use of the system through demand management, operating and capital costs would grow beyond currently levels and drive rate increases in addition to those proposed to fund an optimized system.

5)     Does Guelph have unique water and wastewater costs when compared to our neighbouring municipalities?

Guelph’s relatively inexpensive groundwater supply (inexpensive when compared to surface water treatment) is plentiful and requires minimal treatment – both of these factors have traditionally resulted in lower water rates for Guelph when compared to other municipalities. Guelph’s wastewater treatment system is more sophisticated and costly to operate than the simpler systems used by our neighbours and is driven by the nature of the receiving stream for our treated wastewater effluent – the Speed River.  This fact has traditionally resulted in wastewater rates in Guelph being higher than water rates.  The piping systems that support both water supply and treatment are similar in size, complexity, and cost to those of our neighbours.  With all of the above in mind, combined water and wastewater rates in Guelph typically fall near the median of a Council approved comparator group.     

Peter L. Busatto | General Manager, Guelph Water Services
T 519-837 -5627 x 2165 |
E peter.busatto@guelph.ca

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Sunday Oct 13th - 2013

Good afternoon Councillors,

Thank you very much for volunteering to assist in class visits to City Hall during Local Government Week. We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of students who will be visiting City Hall and at this point we have close to 800 students booked to visit us throughout the week. The students are looking forward to the upcoming visits in Council Chambers with you.

In preparation for the event, please find attached a guideline of speaking notes that you are welcome to refer to when preparing to meet with the students.

I would like to take the opportunity to share the Local Government Week Facebook page with you and would be delighted if you would share it with your followers or post the link to your blog to help us promote the event to teachers and students. HERE

Please feel free to connect with me if you have any questions.


Suzanne Holder | Project Coordinator

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Sunday Oct 13th - 2013

Article about local municipal politicians who use social media: From Guelph Mercury: HERE






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Sunday Oct 13th - 2013

Guelph housing starts up from a year ago

GUELPH — Housing development constraints within the Guelph area are evident in the latest Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation statistics on housing starts this year.
The federal agency reported 185 starts in the first three months. While that’s up from 122 in the same period last year, it comes up short of the city development priorities plan’s goal of 1,100 a year.
“The city is not registering as much land (for development) as they really want to,” corporation senior market analyst Erica McLerie said Wednesday. “They haven’t been meeting that target the last three or four years.”
Also evident is a continuing trend toward multi-unit developments such as townhouses and apartment complexes. Of the 185 in the first quarter, fully 144 were multiple units, compared with 41 single-detached homes. That’s down from 55 separate residences a year ago in the report on the Guelph census metropolitan area, which also includes surrounding Guelph-Eramosa and Puslinch townships.
In March alone, there were 61 starts, 54 of which were apartment units and none were townhouses. Five were single-detached residences and the remaining two were semi-detached ones.
McLerie cites as factors provincial “Places To Grow” legislation requiring that a significant portion of housing development comprise infilling, which curbs urban sprawl, as well as follows demographic trends toward fewer couples with children and smaller lone-parent households.
“A lot of these don’t require as large a unit or require more affordable units,” McLerie said.
It’s not a worrying trend for city Coun. Bob Bell. “We’ve got lots of brownfields to develop,” Bell said of reusable space. In fact, the member of a city planning committee said Guelph isn’t short development space, having enough for the current planning period that ends in 2031.
Bell said he understands the desire by some to develop new urban areas, but he’s content with the city focusing these days on “becoming more compact.”
Bell said some people may prefer to live in their own single-family houses and developers may want to build them, but there should be enough such residences in the future, as senior citizens move into smaller units and put these on the market. It’s just that new houses may be in more limited supply going forward.
“Some people are complaining; other people aren’t,” Bell said.
But Coun. Cam Guthrie worried about the ramifications of fewer single-family dwellings.
“It can start to play a little bit against the market,” Guthrie said, referring to competition for houses driving up prices.
And he also warned that if Guelph becomes too expensive, growth will move elsewhere as families consider buying the standalone homes they desire in nearby communities like Rockwood, Cambridge or Fergus.
Guthrie said the city can’t oppose the “Places To Grow” directive because it’s the law, but he’d hate to see people unable to fulfil their dreams of home ownership.

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Friday Oct 11th - 2013

Oct 10th, 2013

A press release was issued today by GrassRoots Guelph announcing that they submitted a petition to the Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 requesting that the province conduct a forensic audit of the City of Guelph’s finances and operations. While a press conference was to be held at Queen’s Park today, we are not aware of any media being present.

Our staff have been in contact with officials at MMAH. While no requests for information have been made, we will certainly provide them with whatever they require, if anything.

Our staff have reviewed the concerns of GrassRoots Guelph and in their opinion there is nothing that warrants provincial intervention or the use of taxpayers’ money for additional auditing.

We will respond to the concerns raised by GrassRoots Guelph. There are inaccuracies in the complaint and we will ensure they are addressed in an open and transparent forum. Members of Council will be provided with the response, as will the public.

I am confident that the City of Guelph is well managed and we have an open and transparent process. Just 2 months ago, Standards and Poor raised our credit rating giving us independent confirmation that the City is well managed. The AA+ credit rating reaffirms the City’s financial position is not only healthy, it’s getting better. That is a reflection of the Council-approved financial policy framework and the discipline of the management team – CAO, Executive Team, Finance team and Direct Leadership Report Team – in respecting these policies.

A few years ago, the CFO of the day remarked to me that it would not be long before we would see the positive benefits to our bottom line from the establishment of a comprehensive financial policy framework. She was right.  

Mayor Farbridge

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Thursday Oct 10th - 2013

Contrary to the Guelph Mercury article (that created a lot of headaches for me as my phone lit up with residents concerned over the state of our investments), here's the real picture of the situation:


Email from CFO followed by info sheet:

From: Al Horsman
Sent: Wednesday, October 09, 2013 03:30 PM
To: Councillors & Mayor
Cc: Executive Team; Tara Baker; Carole Al-Haydari
Subject: 2013 Interim Investment Performance Report

Madame Mayor and Council:

At its meeting of October 15, 2013, the Corporate Administration Finance and Enterprise Committee will be considering receipt of Report Number FIN-13-40 2013 Interim Investment Performance Report that provides an update on the City’s investment performance as required under Ontario regulation 438/97 of the Municipal Act, 2001. Unfortunately, the local printed media outlet the Guelph Mercury printed a story respecting this report that included several inaccuracies and omitted more positive messages identified in the Key Findings sections of the CAFE report. Attached please find a Briefing Note developed by CHR Corporate Communications that summarizes the misinterpretations referenced here and the actions taken to contact the Guelph Mercury to provide corrections to the media coverage.

The corrections outlined in the attachment and sent to the Guelph Mercury relate primarily to the treatment of the asset backed securities. Contrary to the news story that states another $373 thousand write down is occurring on top of $1.4 million already “lost”, the ABS’s remain an investment held on the City’s balance sheet and are still traded on the market. The incorrect interpretation afforded by the Guelph Mercury overshadowed what staff believe is the positive aspect of the report, namely that the City has earned $1.8 million in investment income as of June 30, 2013 which is a $604,000 surplus compared to budget realized directly as a result of staff’s changed investment strategies including entering into a new banking relationship.

This information is shared with you as per the City’s communications protocol and can be shared with constituents.


Albert Horsman, Executive Director and CFO
Finance and Enterprise
City of Guelph
T 519-822-1260 x 5606
E al.horsman@guelph.ca


October 9, 2013

Correction to media coverage regarding : 2013 Interim Investment Performance Report

The City contacted the Guelph Mercury to address a few inaccuracies in the October 7, Guelph Mercury article “Higher risk investments force City of Guelph to accept $373,500 write down”.

Tara Baker, the City’s Manager of Financial Reporting and Accounting, contacted the reporter, Chris Herhalt, to discuss the following three statements from the article. Accurate information about the interim investment report is included below. Please feel free to share this information with constituents.

“After losing nearly $1.4 million already....”

•    The City has not lost $1.4 million.
•    The City recognized a loss of $245,818 in 2011.
•    The City set up an allowance in 2009 of $1.14 million to recognize potential valuation issues on these papers, and since then that allowance has improved and is now valued at just $373,490 as of December 31, 2012.

“... causing the $373,000 write down”
•    The allowance for $373,490 recognizes potential valuation issues, but the City has not written down these investments—they are still traded in the market.

“The Municipal Act and other provincial regulations prohibit municipalities from investing in anything with a rating less than AA (low).... forbids asset-backed securities with a maturity of more than five years”

•    At the time, (2006) the decision to invest in asset-backed securities was made in accordance with the Municipal Act and the City’s investment policy.
•    Since then, the market changed significantly and forced the City into the long-term note arrangement in order to preserve the capital invested.
•    The City benefits by holding these investments until maturity, or until it make financial sense to call the long-term notes.
•    The City is aware that it is not in compliance with this standard of the Municipal Act and fully discloses this to Council in the report on a bi-annual basis.

Supporting Information:
Read the CAFE Committee report on the matter:


Tara Baker, CPA, CA, Manager, Financial Reporting and Accounting, Finance
T 519-822-1260 x 2084, E tara.baker@guelph.ca


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Wednesday Oct 9th - 2013

As requested by council, we have received our first “monthly” report outlilning how the corporation is handling our variances. Please see below the update from our CFO:

From: Al Horsman
Sent: Wednesday, October 09, 2013 7:24 AM
To: Councillors & Mayor
Subject: 2013 Operating Budget Variance Report Monthly Update

At its meeting of September 15, 2013, the Corporate Administration, Finance and Enterprise Committee received the June 2013 Year End Variance Report that identified a projected year end unfavourable variance of $2.36 million (as of June 30, 2013). CAFE Committee further directed staff to provide monthly updates on progress towards mitigating the projected variance. This e-mail is provided as the first of these updates and identifies a range (worst case to best case) of initiatives that have been derived through the number of internal cost containment and mitigation strategies described in the June 2013 Year End Variance Report and the Efficiency Target Report received by CAFE at the same meeting of September 15, 2013. These offsets are being implemented with no impact on service levels. In total, save other unexpected pressures and/or savings occurring between now and year end 2013 staff currently project as of August 31, 2013 that there will be no (zero) year-end variance in 2013.

Projected Variance (as at June 30, 2013)                                           $2.4 million


City Departments Cost Containment                                       $0.5 - 0.8 million
Reduced Benefits (new Contract September 2013)          $0.2 - 0.2 million
Lower Utility Costs (Community Energy Program)             $0.6 - 0.8 million
Lower Tax Write Offs / Higher Supp Revenue                     $0.5 - 0.8 million

Sub-Total Mitigation / Cost Containment Strategies         $1.8 – 2.6 million

Projected Shortfall / (Surplus) Before Reserves                 $0.6 – (0.2) million
(as at August 31, 2013)

Legal Reserve                                                                                    $0.3 – 0.0 million
Winter Control Costs Reserve Offset                                      $0.4 – 0.0 million

Projected Shortfall / (Surplus) After Reserves                    $(0.1) – (0.2) million
(as at August 31, 2013)

The overview provided here relates to City departments only. Efforts are also already underway to work with the Local Boards and Shared Services areas to determine what contributions they may be able to make to these mitigation and cost containment strategies. Staff intend to include some outcomes from these when reporting out through the next 2013 Operating Budget Variance Report monthly update in November 2013 as well as through the 2013 Operating Variance and Efficiency Target staff reports scheduled in December 2013. In summary, staff remain confident that the upper range described in the totals above can be achieved such that in combination with other contributions outside City and corporate departments it will not be necessary to tap the Legal or contingency (for winter maintenance) reserves.


Albert Horsman, Executive Director and CFO
Finance and Enterprise
City of Guelph

T 519-822-1260 x 5606
E al.horsman@guelph.ca

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Wednesday Oct 2nd - 2013

Hello all, please be advised that, beginning on Monday, October 7 and ending on approximately Friday, November 15, Water Services will be conducting the Annual Fire Hydrant Testing Program.

In compliance with the Ontario Fire Code, over 2,500 fire hydrants will be tested to ensure residents receive optimum fire protection.  Testing will be performed on weekdays by Water Services operators between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Hydrant testing will begin in Guelph’s south end and will progress in a northerly direction.

Program progress will be posted on the City website at Guelph.ca/water.

Customer notification and service activities will include:
•    Local newspaper advertising (Tribune and Mercury) starting Thursday
September 26th and continuing to program end;
•    Local radio advertising starting October 1st and continuing to end of program;
•    Posting of relevant information on the City’s web site, including program updates; and
•    24/7 customer telephone support (regular hours: 519-837-5627, after hours: 519-658-8003).

We anticipate a number of customer inquiries related to the program.  The operations and testing of the hydrants may cause short-term, localized discoloured water.  We are committed to limiting customer inconvenience while ensuring program success, and will provide support to customers who experience discoloured water.

Please contact Water Services if you require additional program information and please direct customer inquires our way.

Thanks for your support.

Peter L. Busatto | General Manager, Guelph Water Services
Planning, Building, Engineering and Environment | Water Services
City of Guelph

T 519-837 -5627 x 2165 | F 519-822 -8837
E peter.busatto@guelph.ca

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Tuesday Oct 1st - 2013

Don’t threaten me.

After a month of both sides bringing forward their arguments to keep or demolish the Wilson Farm house, after 35 delegates, after almost four hours last night of back and forth motions, amendments, deferrals and referrals, council made (drum roll please......) no decision on it’s future because of a split tie vote of 6-6. Over and over again council tried to land on a decision with continual 6-6 tie votes. What a disappointing outcome. Especially for the communtiy.


Maybe King Solomon could have suggested cutting the house in half to have this issue come to a close after almost 11 years?

It was also disappointing that the absence of Ward 5 Councillor Lise Burcher created the tie vote scenario.  

I want to acknowledge those who contacted me on either side of the issue, right up until the council meeting last night, that were very respectful, either through phone, by email or in person. Even though I may have been on an opposing position (to demolish and become parkland), it was always left to agree to disagree agreeably.

But then we come to the first three words of my post: Don’t. Threaten. Me.

There were some last night, all from the “save the house” side, that basically oppose everything the city of Guelph tries to do. They threatened all of council and the ratepayers. They demeaned us and the neighbouring community. Their name calling, belittling and dropping threats of taking this issue to the OMB is nothing new and typical. They put down the hard work of our city staff and the homeowners nearby this dwelling by making fun of them for having "2 car garages" with their “cookie cutter homes” while preaching that their houses would fall down in a tornado. 

When there's an absence of any rational thoughts, new ideas or respectful arguments, these individuals resort to the only thing they know best, fear mongering and attacking one personally. It’s Saul Alinsky 101.

Arguments from Susan Watson’s young daughter stuck out the best to me. A reasoned and well articulated request to save the home. Equally moving was the young mother who lived across from the dwelling that held up a piece of a shingle from the house that blew over and hit their cars. They wanted the house gone and to have the land incorporated into the park, and that made good sense to me too. Compelling arguments from both, even though they were polar opposite positions.

My advice, to those on the “demolish” side is this:
Based on what I can tell at this very moment in time, this house could probably be staying where it is. When a vote is re-taken with the presence of Councillor Lise Burcher, I can see this being a 7-6 vote in favour of keeping it. If this is the case, then you need to ask yourselves if you want it to become a residential home, cornered and fenced off from the rest of the park where you can't enjoy it, or should it become a community use building? If you need to land on the best of those two options, then you should probably choose the community use option. Get together, figure out what your community can live with and one that will be used by you.  

My adivce, to those on the "save the home" side is this:

Help through appropriate suggestions to the surrounding community, a community use and agree to let the house go if a proper use can't be found. And for the majority of you who have good and respectful arguments to try and save it, don't align or associate with some on the fringe of your cause. It's not helpful.

It's time to put this issue to rest. We, your city leaders, need to step up and figure it out. Quickly.

Of course if neither of these options work, maybe we can let whoever’s on council in another 11 years try to deal with it? 


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christine.billings@guelph.ca | 519-826-0567

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