Ward 4 News

Councillor - Christine Billings

Sunday Apr 22nd - 2012

Come on Guelph!

Get in touch with me and donate. $10 - $20 - $50 - $350 or more! Just let me know! The library needs $6800 and we'ver raised $2500 so far. Will you help?

Here's a video for you to share: http://watch.ctv.ca/news/#clip664066

 

Thanks,

Cam

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Monday Apr 16th - 2012

In response to many requests as of late on condo owners, and the share of taxes that they pay to the city, a response has been provided here:

 

16-Apr-12
Property taxes and condominiums
The municipal property tax system is based on the principle that all property owners share the cost of providing municipal services for our entire community – regardless of whether or not an individual taxpayer makes use of a certain City service Ontario’s property tax system is not a user pay system. Municipal programs, services, and facilities are funded collectively by residential, business, commercial, and industrial property owners.


Questions and answers:


Why should property owners pay taxes to cover the cost of services they don’t use?
It’s a way for everyone to share the cost of delivering essential public programs, facilities and services. Even if we choose not to use a particular service, it’s important that everyone contributes to police, fire, and emergency services, libraries, recreation centres and other valuable community assets. For example, businesses don’t have children but a portion of their property taxes is used to cover the cost of public education; public education is an essential and valuable part of life in our community.
 

Why do some condo owners pay property taxes for municipal services & then pay private companies additional fees for snow removal?
Property taxes cover the cost of winter control activities for all public roads, making it safer for everyone to travel throughout the community. Property owners are responsible for removing snow from their properties. Snow removed from private properties still ends up in municipal stormwater drains and sewers which are maintained and repaired using property taxes.
Why do some condo owners pay property taxes for municipal services and then pay private companies additional fees for waste removal?

Our property tax system is not a user-pay system; we all contribute to the municipal waste management system regardless of whether we use municipal waste collection. Condominium corporations make use of private waste collection companies for various reasons. Some prefer not to leave waste at the curb for collection. Some properties may not be accessible in Guelph’s waste collection vehicles. The City works with property owners to determine the best way to collect and manage waste for each property. To learn more call 519-767-0598 or email waste@guelph.ca.
Can the City refund property taxes for condominiums?

No. The property tax system in Ontario is determined by the Provincial government. The City has no legal authority to change how properties are assessed or alter the property tax structure.

How are property taxes calculated?

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) assesses the value of all properties in Ontario based on several factors including location, age, size, lot size, and property type (single-detached home, townhouse, multi-residential, commercial, industrial, retails etc.) to determine their market value. The City of Guelph sets a tax rate for municipal services, and the Province of Ontario sets a rate for public education. The tax rate is applied to the assessed value of the property.


For more information:
Gail Nisbet
Manager, Taxation and Revenue
Finance
T 519-822-1260 x 2316
E gail.nisbet@guelph.ca

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Thursday Apr 5th - 2012

Paul Smith was a former chair of the City of Guelph Environmental Advisory Committee. He recently offered a guest column to the Mercury related to the protest of the development of the Hanlon Creek Business Park. He revised the submission but the original version was published. Below is the edition he sought to have published.

Matt Soltys' Feburary 17th piece "Hanlon Creek sacrificed in the name of progress" and other recent letters and columns attempt to perpetuate the mythology the occupiers sought to create that the Hanlon Business Park was "pristine wilderness", "old growth forest" or some unique environmental jewel.

Environmental activism is an important and positive force in Canada and across the globe. Environmental advocacy has transformed our policy discourse.

But that important role does not give environmental activists a free ticket to advocate for issues that have no substance. Rational debate is required. Facts and science are important, not just emotion.
Environmental advocates are not saints with an inside track to the truth. They make errors in judgement like all of us.

The campaign against the Hanlon Creek Business park was an error in judgement by environmental advocates. The issue had no substance, except as general opposition to all development of any sort. Population and economic growth leads to development. Sustainable approaches to development must build and balance social, environmental and economic goals--not halt all development.

In fact, the occupiers failed to engage on the real issues of urban growth, population growth and the need to move toward a slow growth economy. York University professor Peter Victor advocates for a realistic future that is based on slow population and economic growth that includes prosperity. That kind of discussion never happened in relation to the Hanlon Business park.

I was chair of the city's Environmental Advisory Committee at the time of the controversy. We were fully immersed in the substance of the issue. We spent many hours reviewing the City's environmental impact reports and walking the site.

The occupiers used exaggerated and inaccurate language in creating the myth about the Hanlon Creek Business Park. "Pristine wetlands", "wilderness", and "old growth forest" were the inappropriate phrases applied to the site. None of that is true.

The lands of the Hanlon Creek Business Park are similar to many undeveloped lands across the city and surrounding Wellington County:
farmland, corn fields, streams with many impacts, wetlands affected by artificial drainage and invasive species, young regenerating forests.
Far from unique, pristine or wilderness. And the key natural features have been protected, wetlands woodlands and streams.

But the activists went on to occupy the site, engage in civil disobedience, confront the construction businesses and try to harass the Mayor at her home. They swore, intimidated, threatened, spit and pounded on buses at the sod-turning. All based on their myth about the site. Is this ethical behaviour? Is this media manipulation?

The activists used excellent media tactics and strategy, they constructed their cause with seemingly cynical political saavy. Their errors in judgement reflect their humanity, just like the rest of us.
But we all have responsibilities too.

The Hanlon Creek Business Park went through a lengthy, democratic public consultation process. Compromise was reached, the nature of the democratic process. The activists ignored the democratic process and sought to overthrow it.

The Hanlon Creek Business Park is an excellent case study in the perils of ideological approaches to activism. Facts matter. Emotion and ideology are important motivators. But if activism is not rooted in facts, ethics can easily be sacrificed.

We do need public discussion about population and economic growth and and how we develop our communities. We cannot grow forever. But sadly, an opportunity was lost to have a real, substantive discussion about the underlying issues. Guelph was captured by the drama of an occupation by activists acting on a myth they themselves created.

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Tuesday Apr 3rd - 2012

~City seeks volunteers for annual Clean and Green Cleanup
Register by April 13 to participate in this year’s city-wide cleanup

GUELPH, ON, March 26, 2012 – The City of Guelph is looking for volunteers to cleanup Guelph roadways during the ninth annual Clean and Green Community Cleanup, taking place Saturday, April 21.

Residents have until Friday, April 13 to register in this year’s event. Volunteers can register by calling 519-837-5628, extension 2047 or visiting guelph.ca/cleanandgreen. Clean-up crews will be provided supplies and information about safely collecting litter.  

The City of Guelph, together with Tim Hortons, Bag Ladies, Guelph & Wellington Development Association, Terra View Homes and Guelph Downtown Business Association, is hosting the city-wide cleanup to reduce litter in our community.  

On Saturday, April 21 the cleanup starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs through 11:30 a.m.  Cleanup crews will pickup litter along predetermined roadways and boulevards that need a spring cleaning.

Litter will be collected in brightly coloured garbage bags so passersby can easily see the amount of litter throughout the city.


All volunteers will be invited to attend an appreciation barbecue following the cleanup.

The Clean and Green Community Cleanup is one of Guelph’s largest community cleanups. Last year, over 900 bags or 11,000 kilograms of garbage was removed from neighbourhood streets, green spaces and community parks, by over 1,000 volunteers helping to ensure more enjoyable common spaces for everyone.  

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Katherine Gray
Service Performance & Development Coordinator
Operations & Transit
T 519-822-1260 x 2006
E katherine.gray@guelph.ca

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Tuesday Apr 3rd - 2012

This is something LOOOOOOOOONG overdue and very well done!

Cam

 

March 26th, 2012

Good afternoon,
In your City Hall mailbox you will find a copy of Perspective Guelph 2012.
Tomorrow morning this insert will be going out across Southern Ontario in The Globe and Mail. The 16 page insert highlights Guelph’s amazing capacity for collaboration and innovation, unique business opportunities and good news stories in order to promote the city to potential new businesses and residents. Although coordinated through Economic Development, this was a co-operative project with contributions from across City departments as well as from business community partners. We hope to continue to work with our fellow business service organizations on successful projects like Perspective Guelph as part of ongoing integrated marketing practices.

Editorial contributors include:
Community Energy Initiative
Community and Social Services
Corporate Communications
Downtown Guelph Business Association
Downtown Renewal
Economic Development
Guelph Chamber of Commerce
Guelph Hydro
Guelph Wellington Business Enterprise Centre
Innovation Guelph
Ontario Co-operative Association
University of Guelph

Additionally ~4,000 copies will be distributed to businesses in and around Guelph.
It is hard capture all the amazing work being done in Guelph’s business community  in only 16 pages, we did our best. Enjoy.

Christine Chapman | Marketing Coordinator
Economic Development | Finance and Enterprise Services
City of Guelph
T 519-822-1260 x 2823 | F 519-837-5636
E christine.chapman@guelph.ca

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Tuesday Apr 3rd - 2012

Good afternoon;

Status of Public Works Winter Control budget.


Changes to the residential plowing threshold of 8cm to 10cm and the overall benefits of the milder winter this season as well as timing on the transition from winter shifts for our employees back to regular shift hours.

Q; When will winter shifts end.
A; We are in transition into our Spring sweeping program.  We will transition from 3 @ 8 hour shifts 7 days per week to 2 at 8 hour shifts 5 days per weeks, (cutting out the weekend coverage) starting Sunday April 1, 2012.  This is about one week sooner than previous years.

Q; Tell me about the spring sweeping program;
A; The program provides a city wide sweeping blitz to collect all the winter sand and grit used throughout the winter.  The program will utilize two outside contractors to compliment our Public Works forces.  The program will run Monday through Friday, (no weekend work) beginning Monday April 2, 2012 and ending Friday April 13, 2012.

Q; Have we had the need to plow residential roads this winter and if not what have been the savings realized.
A; Although we have experienced a less than severe winter so far, we must keep in mind that we budget on a fiscal year basis and we still have November and December 2012 to consider into the equation before we can say we have saved money on our budget.  When the plowing threshold was 8cm we would budget for 8 city wide plowouts at approx $50,000 per plow out per year.  Now at 10cm we only budget for 5 such plow outs. Although we have not technically reached the 10cm threshold so far this winter season, we have been very close on two occations.  In those two instances, because temperatures at the time of the precipitation were slightly above zero celcius, and because a flash freeze was forecasted to occur thereafter, a decision was made to perform a “housekeeping” type cleanup of the residential roads using city forces.  This work was done to mitigate the impact of the re-freeze which would create significant problems for our forces if we had to treat such re-freeze conditions and for the travelling public to navigate through.

Q; Since contractors were not used this season, will that create a hardship in acquiring contractors for next season.
A; The contractors in general have not had many winter related working hours this season.  This hour shortage was typical throughout Southern Ontario and not just with us.  Many contractors have a number of winter contracts including some that pay a set fee per month whether they mobilize or not.  This balances out their monthly revenues.  In our case, the city pays a standby fee (daily rate) and only pays for the contracted service (hourly) when the contractor actually mobilizes to perform plowing work.

Q; How many events do we typically budget for?

A; We budget for 23 events yearly, (January to December).  An event is defined as the mobilization of winter control equipment.  It starts when the first truck goes out and ends when the last truck is washed and back in the garage.  An event can last anywhere from one to four days.  So far this season we have experienced 16 such events or varying duration.  In general, the only significant difference with this winter compared to a typical winter is the low volume of snow fall experienced.  The number of events experienced so far, requiring winter control activities this season is relatively typical to other years.  

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Tuesday Apr 3rd - 2012

DATE: March 28, 2012
TO: Planning, Building, Engineering & Environment Committee
FROM: Rory Barr Templeton
SERVICE: Planning Services
SUBJECT: Status of the Green Infrastructure Fund

________________________________________________________________________________________________________
During the Planning, Building, Engineering and Environment Committee meeting held February 21, 2012, Mayor Farbridge requested staff confirm the status of the Green Infrastructure Fund and if it could be used to support/mitigate the financial implications of the Urban Forest Management Plan.
The following is a response from our Finance Department:
As part of the 2011 budget, we did receive approval for a $100,000 contribution to a Greening Reserve. This was included in the budget at the direction of Council who requested "that staff review the potential of including an envelope in the capital budget for green infrastructure and the implications of doing this" (Dec 15, 2009 meeting). The $100,000 is being used in the 2011, 2012 and subsequent budgets to fund capital project PO0008 Trees for Guelph Greening, which was considered to meet the criteria that the funding be used to pay for green infrastructure. There have been no further contributions to this reserve. The $100,000 will provide the required funding for PO0008 until 2014. After 2014, additional contributions will need to be approved through the budget process to continue to fund this project. Therefore, unless we eliminate or consider PO0008 to be part of the Urban Forestry Management Plan, there is no funding in this reserve to offset the cost of the plan. Therefore it will be a continued recommendation of staff that the $100,000.00 outlined in the UFMP for New Rooting Technology as part of Recommendation #14 be part of the overall financial impact of the Plan.
Sincerely;
Rory Barr Templeton
Landscape Planner
Planning Services
Cc: City Council

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Tuesday Apr 3rd - 2012

Further Info for St. George's Square Transit Changes:

I would like to provide you some background and context on the development of the new transit terminal. The concept of an inter-modal transit hub has been discussed and analyzed since 2000.  Various options and locations have been discussed over the years. The location on Carden St was first endorsed by the City in 2004. Further assessment and refinement occurred between 2004 and 2008. When ISF funding was announced in 2009, consultants were retained to confirm that the Carden Street location was still the preferred location. Analysis completed by the consultant confirmed that this location was still the optimal site. Since 2010, the terminal design was finalized and the facility constructed. There have been regular public communications detailing progress on the construction of the facility.

In terms of comparing the level of bus service pre and post the move of Guelph Transit operations to Carden St (comparing 706 to 113 daily trips through the Square), I would like to make a number of points for your consideration:

•    Downtown is not losing any service – the transit hub is only moving 250m from its current location. Although some individuals may consider this an additional walk a burden, I would contend that for many people this is not onerous enough to stop them from visiting establishments on Wyndam St. The Square will certainly be more “people friendly” after the buses are relocated.
•    The City for a long period of time has endorsed the concept of an inter-modal transportation hub (Guelph Transit, GO bus Go rail, Greyhound and VIA) to promote the use of non-auto alternatives for local and commuter trips – this is not possible operating out of St. Georges Square.
•    Downtown businesses have known for a long period of time that the terminal was being developed on Carden St, and since I have been at Guelph Transit starting in 2009, I have not had nor seen strong opposition from downtown businesses on the move of Guelph from the Square to Carden St.
•    When our operations move from the Square, additional public parking spots will be made available in the Square which should be a stimulus for businesses around Wyndam and Quebec.
 
Please find listed below the data regarding the number of transit trips to specific areas of the City both prior to and after the opening of the new transit terminal. I have also provided distance data to put some context on the information.
 
Distance From New Transit Terminal to MacDonnell St: 86m
Distance From New Transit Terminal to Cork St: 182m
Distance From New Transit Terminal to  Quebec St: 264m
Distance From New Transit Terminal to Woolwich/Wyndam: 486m
Distance From New Transit Terminal Exit on MacDonnell to MacDonnell/Wyndam: 240m
Distance From Wal-Mart Bus Bays to Wal-Mart Front Door: 205m
Distance From Stone Road Mall Bus Stop (on Stone Road) to Stone Road Mall Front Door: 94m (There is also a bus stop on-site at the back of the mall)
 
Current service coverage at St. George’s Square: 702 daily passenger trips
Service coverage at St. George’s Square after terminal opening: 113 daily passenger trips
Service coverage at Wal-Mart: 208 daily passenger trips
Service coverage at Stone Road Mall: 99 daily passenger trips on-site drop off, 336 daily passenger trips road drop off (this declines to 61 and 260 when express buses don’t run during the summer)
 
Best wishes,
Michael Anders | General Manager, Community Connectivity and Transit
Transit Services | Operations & Transit
City of Guelph

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Tuesday Apr 3rd - 2012

County and City reach an agreement on Wellington Terrace funding

GUELPH, ON, March 29, 2012 – The County of Wellington and the City of Guelph have reached an agreement on the Wellington Terrace cost-sharing dispute.

All outstanding matters before the court, including future contributions from the City towards the operating costs of Wellington Terrace, have been resolved.

The County and City have been involved in litigation over the funding of Wellington Terrace dating back to 2004.  

“County Council is pleased that a lengthy and expensive court proceeding has been avoided,” said Warden Chris White.  “The agreement reached with the City provides for an appropriate level of funding by the City towards the operation of the Terrace, which is used by both
County and Guelph residents.  We look forward to a constructive relationship with the City on long-term care going forward.”

“Working together to successfully resolve the funding parameters of Wellington Terrace to the mutual benefit of both municipalities has created an opportunity for the City and County to work collaboratively in more areas of social services,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge.

All upper- and single-tier municipalities in Ontario are required by provincial legislation to support a long-term care home.

About Wellington Terrace
Wellington Terrace is owned and operated by The County and is home to 176 residents.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Andrea Ravensdale
Communications Manager
The County of Wellington
T 519-546-7578
E andrear@wellington.ca
 
Mayor Karen Farbridge
City of Guelph
T 519-837-5643
E mayor@guelph.ca
Donna Jaques
General Manager of Legal Services/City Solicitor
City of Guelph
T 519-822-1260 x 2288
E donna.jaques@guelph.ca
 
Ann Pappert
Chief Administrative Officer
City of Guelph
T 519-837-5602
E ann.pappert@guelph.ca

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Tuesday Apr 3rd - 2012

Report shows Guelph's energy usage on the decline
City encourages residents to continue conservation during Earth Hour this Saturday


GUELPH, ON, March 29, 2012 – As Earth Hour 2012 nears, Guelph residents have something to be proud of as numbers in a new report released by the Community Energy Initiative (CEI) show that energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions per capita are on a five-year decline.
“Urban areas like Guelph use 75 per cent of all energy and generate 80 per cent of all greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change,” said Glynis Logue, Executive Director of Guelph Environmental Leadership and member of the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Energy. “We are all in this together,” continued Logue, “so every person who turned down their air conditioning last summer, took public transit or walked instead of driving, turned the furnace down when they went to bed, or changed to energy efficient lighting in their home contributed to the energy reductions we have seen.”
The CEI report is a summary of data collected and analyzed by Guelph Hydro Inc. and formally presented to the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Energy. Based on internationally recognized measurement processes published by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), the data measures consumption of electricity, gas and natural gas in the city and greenhouse gas emissions from various sectors including transportation, residential and industrial.
The report highlights a number of important trends from 2005-2010, including:
•    Energy usage per capita has decreased by 13.3 per cent
•    GHG Emissions per capita have decreased by 18.8 per cent
•    Population increased by nearly 16 per cent
"Guelph residents should be very proud of the steps they have made to use less energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Mayor Karen Farbridge. “By turning off non-essential lights during Earth Hour this Saturday, Guelph residents have an opportunity to express their continued support for energy conservation.”
The City of Guelph’s commitment to energy conservation has led to a number of initiatives and goals such as changing the way citizens, businesses and the city government think about and use energy, promoting local renewable energy generation and building and maintaining a reliable sustainable energy supply. The Mayor’s Task Force on Community Energy was developed to help the city meet its target of reducing energy usage by 50 per cent per capita by 2031.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Rob Kerr
Corporate Manager
Community Energy Initiative
Finance and Enterprise
T 519-519-822-1260  x 2079
E rob.kerr@guelph.ca

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Tuesday Apr 3rd - 2012

Good afternoon Mayor Farbridge and Councillors,

As April approaches, Public Works is gearing up for the Annual Spring Sweeping Program.  This program is designed to blitz city streets in order to clean up accumulated sand from winter control operations.  In conjunction with the implementation of the sweeping program, Public Works Road staff will transition from a three shift rotational pattern, (7/24), which has been in place since late November 2011, to a two shift rotational pattern, (5/16), thereby eliminating the night and weekend shifts coverage.

Sweeping operations will begin on Monday, April 2 and continue for approximately two weeks, (weather permitting) until Friday, April 13.  The program will utilize one city crew and 3 contractor crews operating simultaneously.  A media campaign including radio ads, newspaper ads, web content, social media and recent newspaper interviews (Guelph Tribune) serve to get the message out to the public.  In addition, local residents are being notified by door leaflets of interim material holding sites in their areas, which are being implemented to reduce program operating costs.

City Staff

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Tuesday Apr 3rd - 2012

City watermains to get spring cleaning, beginning April 2
Guelph Water Services to clean 94 kilometres of watermain pipe during overnight hours to minimize customer inconvenience.


GUELPH, ON, March 30, 2012 – Guelph Water Services will begin the spring phase of its Watermain Cleaning Program on Monday night. Watermain cleaning in the affected areas will be completed between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. to minimize impact on customers. This maintenance work is scheduled for completion by May 4.
Customers in the affected neighbourhoods will receive hand-delivered notices before watermain cleaning begins on their street. During the cleaning process, customers in the affected area may experience discoloured water during the cleaning process and are advised to limit water use. While ingesting small quantities of discoloured water is unlikely to create a health risk, it is recommended that customers wait until water clarity returns to normal before consuming water.
The City has about 600 kilometres of buried watermain pipe to get water to its residents and businesses. Watermain cleaning ensures that customers receive the freshest water possible by removing accumulated material from the watermain and minimizing the occurrence of discoloured water. Two cleaning methods are used during the Watermain Cleaning Program. To swab a watermain, a soft, pellet-shaped material is inserted into the watermain and pushed along by water pressure. The swab scours the watermain as it travels through the watermain. To flush a watermain, high-velocity water flowing from hydrants is used to remove loose sediment.
For more information about the Watermain Cleaning Program or discoloured water, contact Water Services at 519-837-5627 or visit guelph.ca/water.
To view the areas to be cleaned during the program, click here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Peter Busatto
General Manager
Water Services
T 519-822-1260 x 2165
E peter.busatto@guelph.ca

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Tuesday Apr 3rd - 2012

City and Guelph Fire Department receive funding for emergency preparedness

GUELPH, ON, March 30, 2012 – The City of Guelph and the Guelph Fire Department have received $14,531.19 in funding from two grants through the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP) for the purchase of new software, hazardous materials suits and calibration testing gas.

"We appreciate the support of Emergency Management Ontario and Public Safety Canada," said Harry Dunning, Manager, Administration and Emergency Preparedness. "These two grants will help the City to support its emergency management initiatives including upgrading its fire safety equipment.”

The Joint Emergency Preparedness Program, administered by Public Safety Canada and Emergency Management Ontario, contributes to emergency preparedness and critical infrastructure protection projects and initiatives.

The funding allowed the Guelph Fire Department to purchase new software to operate mobile data computers in fire trucks. It also allowed the hazardous materials team to purchase replacement hazmat suits which protect firefighters in dangerous situations. Lastly it allowed the purchase of calibration gas for use in the department’s multi gas detectors. The total cost of the projects was $35,430.56.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Harry Dunning, Manager, Administration and Emergency Preparedness
Emergency Services
T 519-822-1260 x 2127
E harry.dunning@guelph.ca

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Tuesday Apr 3rd - 2012

Hi Mr. Guthrie,
My name is G and I am a Political Science student at the UofG. I'm graduating this year, and in the midst of writing final papers, so naturally, I was procrastinating a bit. Reading the 59 Carden St. blog, I came across a comment you made, which led me to your website.
I'd like to commend you for its ease-of-use. The Accountability Benchmark System is very interesting to me, as it is a simple and clear way to be transparent. Upon graduation, I have considered the possibility of running for elected office at some level, and the way that you seem to operate (after 10 mins or so of clicking around your website) is inspiring to someone who's spent 5 years learning about the evils of our political system - corruption, cronyism and the like.
If you have time in the next little while (after the middle of April, once school is done with) I'd love to be able to sit down and chat about how you came to develop such a system, and how it's been working out for you so far.
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you.
-G

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Tuesday Apr 3rd - 2012

April 3rd, 2012:

I thought I'd share this info with you on the use of social media from the city. As many of you know, there are only a few councillors that use social media, let alone a webiste, to inform and engage the residents they represent. I frequently find Twitter to be a fantastic tool to have conversations with people, and even to help people with city issues. I'l aways remember helping a Ward 4 resident with a huge sink hole in the middle of Paisley Rd & Imperial through Twitter. We communicated only through Twitter in connection with the @cityofguelph twitter to fix the issue. This website recieves many thanks from residents that they find it easy to use and enables them to stay somewhat up to date on our city. Here are some points to consider regarding the city use of social media:


How the City uses social networks like Facebook and Twitter:

•    to promote City services, events and programs; let people know what’s coming up and refer them to the website for further information

•    as a customer service tool; e.g. people inquire about road construction, potholes, yard waste collection and the City responds with accurate timely information.

•    during emergencies; during recent power outage and gas leak/evacuation we worked with Guelph Police and emergency services to inform public with real time information.

•    to compliment other kinds of media when appropriate; print, broadcast advertising and media relations activities will continue, and social media is one more communications tool in our toolbox.

How long have we been using it?


•    Guelph was a pioneer – Guelph was among the first municipalities to participate and allow people to ask questions and post comments. Our IT department was the driving force behind our participation and we’ve been using social media for about three years.
•    Some cities may have been hesitant to participate fearing the number of public criticisms or complaints that may be posted on their pages, but we feel it’s better to listen and hear this feedback so we can act on it. It’s not always an easy conversation, but it’s a genuine two-way communication.
•    A good example of how we can use social media to engage and inform the community is the City’s Guelph Remastered campaign in 2010. We upgraded a lot of the city’s roads and underground infrastructure and used Facebook, twitter RSS feeds and blogs to regularly update the community about traffic and transit disruptions, and we answered questions questions about road construction projects online as well.


Other Resources:

City’s Communications Plan
http://www.guelph.ca/cityhall.cfm?subCatID=2303&smocid=2872
List of social media properties
http://www.guelph.ca/cityhall.cfm?subCatID=2220&smocid=2793
Examples of online conversations we had during the Guelph Remastered campaign
http://guelph.ca/living.cfm?itemid=80302&smocid=2529

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Monday Apr 2nd - 2012

April 2nd, 2012:

 

Many of you may know that I am a councillor that asks many questions about the overall value we get for our hard earned tax dollars within our city. There are no sacred cows when it comes to these questions and the library is one of them.

I have issues regarding the business case for building a new library and I have had issues with the way our library was being managed until Kitty Pope arrived on the scene.

She is one that has embraced, almost immediately, technology within our libraries. Using ipads and creating a very good e-book collection that is growing is exactly what I have been concerned about in the past. She deserves praise for this and I encourage her and the library board to continue in this direction.

This attached report is from the US but crosses the border to look at what libraries should be focused on in the future. Hat-tip to councillor Ian Findlay from Ward 2 for posting this on his blog:

Report on Future of Libraries.pdf

 

Thank you,

Cam

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Sunday Apr 1st - 2012

Statement by FCM president Berry Vrbanovic on the federal government’s 2012 budget on behalf of Canada’s municipalities (29/03/2012)

OTTAWA - The following statement was released today by FCM president Berry Vrbanovic on the federal government's 2012 budget on behalf of Canada's municipalities:  

"Canada's municipal leaders welcome today's commitment by the federal government to continue working with cities and communities to rebuild the local roads, water systems, community centres and public transit that our families, businesses, and economy depend on.

By committing today to have its new long-term infrastructure plan in place before current funding programs end, the government has promised Canadians that their communities can look forward to stable, secure federal funding for safe roads and bridges, clean drinking water, and fast, reliable public transit.

We welcome today's $150 million commitment to the new Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund which will again see all orders of government working shoulder-to-shoulder to create jobs and invest in communities in a time of global economic uncertainty.

The budget fails to deliver on fixing Canada's rental housing market. The budget does nothing new to support the affordable, rental housing that communities need to attract new workers and Canadians need as they pay off record-high household debts.  The federal government must encourage private sector investors to expand Canada's slow growing rental housing supply. Today's budget misses this opportunity, however FCM will continue to work to address this growing problem with Minister Diane Finley, the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation, and all parties in the House of Commons.

We are encouraged by the government's commitment to reduce duplication between federal and provincial regulations, especially in the case of smaller community projects.

Today's budget continues building a new infrastructure partnership that creates jobs and strengthens Canada's future economic foundations. The government must expand this partnership in the future to fix growing holes in a high-priced housing market; support front-line policing; and build safe, sustainable communities at the heart of a strong and prosperous country."

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Sunday Apr 1st - 2012

Mayor Farbridge and Councillors,

I would like to provide you a brief update on the TGS and Guelph Central Station (GCS). The base route system is operating smoothly now and supervisory efforts are being directed towards monitoring performance and maximizing service levels. There are still some missed connections in the Square and at the UC but we are doing our best to address the issues as they arise.

We are still working on alternatives for areas of the City with ridership levels that do not support regular service. Our new Service Planner has just started and this position will be dedicated to assessing demand profiles, route performance and route adjustments – minor revisions will continue to be made as required. When the new board period starts May 6, the routing will essentially be the same as today with a number of customer service improvements – the amount of interlining at the UC will be reduced (i.e. more buses will come in and go out as the same route) and there will be a platform reallocation at the UC to minimize walking distance for riders who have to transfer.

We are in the process of developing the communication plan for the opening of GCS, and will be releasing the material to the public shortly. We are also preparing the training material for our operators (updated driver’s handbook, platform allocations, driving directions in/out of GCS, FAQ booklet). We are planning to start the in-field driver training by the middle of April.

Completion of GCS is moving ahead at full speed. The canopy frame is fully installed and the glass panels for the roof are in the process of being erected. Installation of the wind screens/shelters located within the canopy structure will be starting very shortly. Installation of platform lighting is underway and the remaining platform infrastructure  (CCTV and PA) will occur in the middle of April. Site and platform signage should be finished by the end of April. Except for the VIA Station, GCS will be ready for transit operations by May 6th as planned.

I appreciate all support you have provided.

Michael Anders | General Manager, Community Connectivity and Transit
Transit Services | Operations & Transit
City of Guelph

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Sunday Apr 1st - 2012

Kelly Guthrie, one of our City of Guelph staff members (awesome last name by the way), Was just on the CBC Radio explaining what Guelph does through this process & engaging the community to be directly involved with allocating money. It's a good listen and here's the link for you:

 

http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2012/03/29/participatory-budget/

 

Also transcript info found here:

Questions and Answers were as follows:
•    Q. How is the process in Guelph different from the process in Puerto Alrgre and New York City?
•    A. The process is quite a bit different because we have a much smaller amount of money designated for PB, $225,000 and in our case a delegate from each neighbourhood group, of which there are 11, comes to a table to deliberate and come to a consensus decision, there isn’t voting.

•    Q. Jim asked a clarifying question about the money being spent on projects.
•    A. The money used by neighbourhood groups is not project based but is spent on a variety of recreational and social service type programs in each neighbourhood and all of these activities are deliberated at the table.

•    Q. This must be a difficult thing for the Neighbourhood delegate to do to report back to their neighbourhood if they have to go back without the money?
•    A. Yes, it is very hard. This is one of the hardest things about this process.

•    Q. It must take a long time to reach consensus about this.
•    A. It can take a long time it depends on the year. There can be some divisive behavior. We have been tweaking the process since 1999, 2000 and it has come to the point where the process takes the full year and the programs are described to each other in discussions and on paper, using allocation tools to tell their story before they even come to the table.

•    Q. What is the greatest positive impact?
•    A. As described by the other guests on the panel the greatest impact is that the people from the neighbourhoods have a voice and their voice is heard this is active democracy and how the money is spent in the neighbourhood is decided by the people who know their neighbourhoods best.

•    Q. Should the Municipality use the Participatory Process for more of its spending?
•    A. This is an interesting process and can be contentious. It think it would be best if it were project based spending and done very carefully.

•    Q. Do I think Jim Flaherty should use PB?
•    A. (With a laugh) He can give it a try.

 

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

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