Ward 4 News

Councillor - Christine Billings

Thursday Jun 28th - 2012

June 28th, 2012

 

Citizens are at the centre of CWI development - how to engage them, how to serve them better and how to improve the wellbeing of this community. The anticipated outcomes include:

•    A Community Wellbeing Plan that complements the City’s Strategic Plan and Official Plan;
•    An engaged community working to achieve the vision of the Community Wellbeing Plan;
•    A stronger relationship between the City and the community developed through a new civic   engagement model;
•    City and community services that are delivered in an efficient and effective manner;
•    A tool for proactive  advocacy with the provincial and federal governments; and
•    New collaborative partnerships to achieve positive results through innovation.

STAFF

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Tuesday Jun 19th - 2012

This Friday June 22nd, the City of Guelph in partnership with the Downtown Guelph Business Association and the Fab 5 Festivals, is hosting a summer street party.  

As part of the 4th Friday events throughout the City,  this event will feature world fusion music by Eccodek, performances by The Rubber Brothers and Matt Brubeck, and a newly commissioned dance piece by Imageo Art Works that incorporates dance and music into and throughout the water feature.

The event runs from 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm.  The water feature will be shut down to the public starting at 7:00 pm in preparation for the event.  Carden Street will be closed starting at 6:00 pm and the DGBA has been encouraging the merchants to also participate in the event that evening.

I hope that many of you will consider joining us on Friday night!

Colleen
Colleen Clack | General Manager Culture & Tourism
Community and Social Services | City of Guelph

T 519-822-1260 ext 2588 | F 519-763-9240

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Tuesday Jun 19th - 2012

June 19th, 2012:

 

Yesterday, during a planning, building, environment and engineering meeting, I raised a question of a common concern throughout Guelph that I continue to hear which is that the planning department, or more specific, the key things residents, contractors, builders need like deck permits for example are on the third floor. The Mayor picked up on my comments and also agreed that she's heard similar comments. She identified three issues.

The concerns she's heard relate to:

-    the requirement to go through security
-    the location on the third floor given the amount of activity
-    the mess it creates especially in the spring

 

I suggested today through email to the planning department that a trial pilot project could be done. Here's my email:


It would be interesting, as a pilot project, to have someone from planning, building dept that handles the common permits, such as decks, sheds, basements etc… be at the main counter for a few months and see how it goes?
Cam

 

What do you think Guelph? 

Thanks,

Cam

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Tuesday Jun 19th - 2012

A traffic impact study has been prepared by Paradigm Transportation Solutions Ltd to identify and address the traffic impacts associated with this development.

The study indicates the following distribution of traffic generated by the proposed development:

•    85% of traffic will arrive from areas to the north of Paisley Road (primarily using Elmira Road, Paisley Road, Imperial Road, Speedvale Avenue and Willow Road).
•    10% of traffic will arrive from the south using Imperial Road.
•    5% of traffic will arrive from the south on Elmira Road.

Whitelaw Road is not identified as a potential route for traffic arriving at the proposed development.

However, we appreciate the concerns raised in regard to the potential for traffic increase on Whitelaw Road and this will be addressed in the staff review of Paradigm’s traffic study as part of the review of the development application.

b) Elmira Road connection to Hwy 24

The extension of Elmira Road to Wellington Road 124 (former Highway 24) was part of the earlier plan to extend Stone Road and connect with Elmira Road at the new Wellington Road 124 (WR 124). The proposed alignment for the new WR 124 is to the north of the existing WR124 road.

This plan has undergone changes in two respects.

(1)    In 1996, the Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO) downloaded Hwy 24 (WR 124) including the responsibility to build the new realigned roadway. Given the funding requirement, it is not certain when the new road will be built.
(2)    In 2009, as part of the approved Environmental Assessment for the Hanlon Expressway improvements, the option of extending Stone Road across the Speed River was removed from the Official Plan.

However, extending Elmira Road to the existing WR 124 is a possibility, and will involve coordination with Wellington County as the extension will be outside the City limits.   

STAFF

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Tuesday Jun 19th - 2012

Costco plans raises traffic concerns: June 19th, 2012:

By Doug Hallett
Guelph Tribune

Two west end residents are trying to rally opposition to a proposal to make a Costco store the anchor of a big new commercial development on the city’s western outskirts.
Flyers being distributed to residents on and near Whitelaw Road by Donna Driskell and Helen Arbour, who both live in the area, list traffic congestion as their top concern. They’re especially concerned about more traffic on Whitelaw Road, which the flyer describes as “a two-lane road with many young families.” Traffic “increased quite a bit” on Whitelaw when the city’s biggest Zehrs was built a few years ago at the corner of Paisley and Imperial roads, Arbour said in an interview Thursday. Now there’s concern that traffic on Whitelaw will “increase all the more” if a Costco is built west of Elmira Road, across from the Zehrs site, she said.
Driskell said she didn’t know about Armel Corp.’s request for rezoning of its land to allow the Costco-anchored development until the day before a June 5 city council planning meeting where the development proposal was introduced. Arbour said she didn’t find out about the rezoning proposal until the day of the meeting. As they distributed flyers last week and spoke to some residents, they said they found both a lack of awareness and considerable opposition to the rezoning proposal.
“We are concerned that residents are not aware of the proposed rezoning,” Arbour said. When they spoke to people about it, most were opposed to a Costco-anchored development, she said. Aside from traffic congestion, their flyer lists three other objections to allowing a Costco that could be as large as 158,000 square feet.
It’s poor planning, the flyer says, to put a Costco membership warehouse outlet in Guelph “15 minutes away” from an existing Costco in Kitchener.
Guelph should have “one-stop shopping” for big box stores, the flyer says, and “if we must have a Costco in Guelph, put it on Woodlawn Road with all the others.”
It also says a big box store like Costco would be “an eyesore in our primarily residential neighbourhood” and could affect businesses already established in the west end. “Costco has a reputation of putting other stores out of business,” the flyer says.
The flyer urges people to call Ward 4 councillors Cam Guthrie and Gloria Kovach to “let them know you are against Costco and other big box stores coming to our neighbourhood.”
It also urges people to express their views and “have your named added to the NO list” by emailing guelphwestend@hotmail.ca – an email address the two women said they set up specifically for this fight.
Driskell said that if council allows Costco to build on Armel’s site, the city should look at how to get shoppers to the site without increasing traffic on residential roads.
One problem, Arbour said, is that Whitelaw Road connects with Highway 24, while Elmira Road currently doesn’t meet up with this busy highway linking Guelph and Cambridge. Elmira currently stops on its south end at Fife Road.
Armel’s site is “kind of hidden,” Arbour said. “I don’t see why the big box stores would want to go there.”
Before Costco agreed to locate on Armel’s site, there was talk of it going in a new commercial development on the former Lafarge quarry site near Paisley Road, Waterloo Avenue and the Hanlon Expressway.
That site owned by Silvercreek Guelph Developments Ltd., which “is right off the Hanlon,” would be another good place for a Costco, Driskell said, as would Woodlawn Road near the Wal-Mart and Home Depot.
Silvercreek Guelph Developments Ltd. originally wanted to build 450,000 square feet of retail space in its development. However, a December 2008 settlement mediated by the Ontario Municipal Board reduced this to 245,000 square feet.
Armel is asking city council to put no cap on the amount of commercial floor space that could be built on its 32-acre vacant site west of Elmira Road and north of Paisley Road. The Costco would be built at the north end of this site as the first phase of a big development, council was told June 5.
The same council meeting received a letter from a lawyer for Silvercreek Guelph Developments Ltd., saying Armel’s proposed Costco-anchored development could make the Silvercreek development redundant. “Our client is concerned that the large-format uses proposed by Armel would potentially duplicate the planned function of the Silvercreek mixed-use node,” said the letter from lawyer Steven Zakem.
Council hasn’t yet received any recommendations from city planning staff about Armel’s proposed development. The June 5 meeting was the initial public meeting, held so that people could voice their opinions before planning staff give any advice to council.
There were no public delegations at the June 5 meeting.

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Tuesday Jun 19th - 2012

Editorial from Guelph Tribune: June 19th, 2012:

To cap or not to cap?

It was a bit of a surprise to some that there weren’t any delegations opposed to a rezoning application by Armel Corp. for a Costco-anchored commercial development when the proposal came to city council for the first time on June 5. Not surprisingly, though, some opposition is starting to emerge.
Some of the anti-big-box rhetoric in flyers being distributed by two women who live in the Whitelaw Road area seems misplaced. The city’s long Wal-Mart fight proved this. But the two women have understandable concerns about lots more traffic on two-lane Whitelaw Road, which links Highway 24 with the 32-acre site owned by Armel north of Paisley Road and west of Elmira Road.
And there’s another thing they point to that people should note. Namely, Armel’s request that the city not put a cap on the floor space of commercial development at the vacant site, which is next to a commercial development anchored by a big Zehrs. This request – which city planners are considering, but haven’t yet made any recommendations about – seems to go directly against the commercial policy set by council in 2005. That policy set caps on the amount of commercial floor space to go into four mixed-use “nodes” on the western, eastern, northern and southern ends of the city.
Silvercreek Guelph Developments Ltd., which wants to develop the former Lafarge quarry site, was told in 2008 it can’t put more than 245,000 square feet of retail space on its site, down from the 450,000 it originally sought. It has told council it’s concerned about Armel’s no-cap request.
To cap or not to cap? This could be the sleeper issue facing council as it deals with Armel and Costco, which wants to open a store as big as 158,000 square feet in the fall of 2013 on a site bordered on the west by farmers’ fields of Guelph/Eramosa Township.

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Friday Jun 15th - 2012

From STAFF:

As promised, this is to let you know the Guelph Profiles video will be aired nationally on the Business News Network on Saturday June 30, 2012 – reaching 5.5 million households across Canada.

The local airing time will be 1:00 p.m. The Business News Network channels in Guelph are Rogers Cable 186 and Bell Satellite 504.

The segment highlights Guelph’s high rankings among various demographic and quality of life criteria: inclusion of sustainable and environmental standards in growth planning; economic benefits (proximity, diverse industry base, skilled labour); Community Energy Initiative; University of Guelph; and rich arts and culture influences.

This will be the only national Canadian showing, the video will still air once nationally in the United States – date TBD.
The segment has aired 29 times on regional networks in Canada and the US, with 4 remaining regional airings to go – dates TBD. All showings are between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.

In addition to the television exposure, the video has been showcased in Toronto at business to business tradeshows (2012 Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association Show and the 2012 Bakery Showcase) and is slated to be presented at several real estate events in the fall. Online exposure includes guelph.ca/biz, YouTube and the City’s Facebook and Twitter pages. To date, the video has been viewed over 11,500 times on YouTube and been shared on Facebook 400 times. Economic Development has also responded to a number of tourism and business development requests to use the video for promotional purposes.

The broadcast airing notification page (link) is consistently updated with new airing times. There have been a few instances where airing times have changed last minute. If this happens, you will be notified of any new airing information.
This video will continue to be part of the City’s economic development marketing activities during the next three to five years.

Thank you and have a great day.

Christine Chapman | Marketing Coordinator
Economic Development | Finance and Enterprise Services
City of Guelph

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

Workshops to improve local services for new Canadians Local Immigration Partnership hosts networking sessions in June

GUELPH, ON, May 31, 2012 – The Guelph-Wellington Local Immigration Partnership (GWLIP) is hosting a series of workshops designed to help agencies and service providers learn more about local services for new Canadians.
“People working or volunteering for organizations that serve the public may struggle when referring new Canadians to other local agencies or service providers,” says Ella Henderson, Project Specialist for the Local Immigration Partnership. “So, we’re bringing together a panel of agency representatives to explain the services that are available to immigrants in Guelph and Wellington County.”
People participating in the workshops will improve their understanding of local services for newcomers and immigrants, gain confidence in referring newcomers to appropriate services, meet and connect with agencies that serve immigrants, and network with other agencies in the community. Service providers are invited to register online at guelphwellingtonlip.ca for one of four free workshops.
Monday, June 4
9-11 a.m.
Guelph Public Library
100 Norfolk Street
Guelph ON
(Registration FULL)     

Tuesday, June 12
2-4 p.m.
Mount Forest Community Library
118 Main Street North
Mount Forest ON    

Wednesday, June 20
2-4 p.m.
ROOM C, City Hall
1 Carden Street
Guelph ON
(Registration FULL)
Thursday, June 28
9-11 a.m.
County of Wellington
Museum and Archives
0536 County Road 18
Township of Centre Wellington
About the Local Immigration Partnership
The Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) is a coalition of more than 60 people representing several community groups and organizations in Guelph and Wellington County including newcomers, ethno-cultural organizations, service providers, and businesses. The LIP is funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and our goal is to create welcoming neighbourhoods and communities where everyone thrives. The work of the LIP focuses on four community-identified priority areas: employment, English language training, community integration and inclusion, and community services and programs.  
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Ella Henderson
Project Specialist
Local Immigration Partnership
T 519-822-1260 x 2565
E ella.henderson@guelph.ca

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

OPA 48 – Official Plan Update Phase 3 – River Systems Issues DATE:  June 1, 2012
ISSUE
Some residents, the River Systems Advisory Committee and a new citizen group called Living Rivers and Greenways Action Group are concerned that a proposed update to Guelph’s official plan (OPA 48) does not maintain the vision and objectives for rivers and tributaries and their valley corridors contained in the 1993 River Systems Management Plan.
A request has been made to defer approval of OPA 48 to allow for further public consultation.    
BACKGROUND
Since 2007 the City has been conducting a 5-Year Official Plan update.  The update was originally to be carried out in two Phases, but Council later split it out into three Phases.
Phase 1
Phase 1, OPA 39, established a growth management framework and brought the Official Plan into conformity with the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, building on the City’s earlier growth management strategy and Smart Guelph initiatives.  OPA 39 was adopted by Council in 2009 and is in full force and effect.
Phase 2
Phase 2, OPA 42, was initially the remainder of the Official Plan Update. OPA 42 was driven by the 2005 Provincial Policy Statement, the Planning Act, the Ontario Heritage Act and the Clean Water Act, as well as the City’s Urban Design Action Plan, Community Energy Plan, Trails Master Plan, Recreation, Parks and Culture Strategic Plan, Employment Lands Strategy and other infrastructure studies and master plans.The first draft of OPA 42 was released in early 2010 and the City conducted extensive community and stakeholder consultation. This draft contained proposed policy revisions related to the above-noted drivers including the natural heritage and open space, recreation and trail policies. In May 2010, in response to community input and recognizing the critical importance of proceeding with the natural heritage policies, including river protection policies, while allowing more time for public consultation on the remainder of the Update, Council directed staff to proceed with finalizing the Natural Heritage System policies immediately and consult further on the remainder. As a result, OPA 42 was split into two parts; the Natural Heritage System policies were carried forward as OPA 42 and adopted by Council in July 2012 and the remaining policies became Phase 3, eventually numbered OPA 48, the final phase of Guelph’s Official Plan update.
Phase 3
In late 2010 and through 2011 the City analysed all public and stakeholder feedback on the first draft of OPA 42 and focused on issues represented in Phase 3, OPA 48. The City met with stakeholders and individuals to discuss their comments and explore solutions to their concerns. Proposed policies were revised based on these discussions, and were included in a second draft of the OP Update that excluded natural heritage policies addressed in Phase 2 (OPA 42). The draft was released for further public review on January 30, 2012. The City promoted and hosted two formal open houses and a Public Meeting to present information and seek community input, and held further meetings with interested stakeholders and individuals. The final draft of OPA 48 considers this input from the community and will be considered by Council on June 5, 2012.
River Systems Concerns
Members of the River Systems Advisory Committee and a new citizen group called Living Rivers and Greenways Action Group are concerned that OPA 48 does not offer enough protection for Guelph’s rivers, tributaries and related natural spaces.
Their specific concerns are that the proposed policies:
•    do not provide explicit policies for the “protection, maintenance, and, where possible, rehabilitation of all rivers, streams and creeks as environmental corridors”
•    fail to maintain the notion of a Linked Open Space Concept as set out in the 2006 OP and the policies and principles that rely on this notion
•    do not maintain a mandatory 30 metre development setback from the river’s edge and the use of the setback as a vegetated corridor
Concern has also been expressed about a perceived lack of public consultation and clear communications regarding the intent and effect of the proposed policy changes.
City staff feels that OPA 48 complements and supports the excellent protection, preservation and enhancement for rivers, tributaries and natural systems established through OPA 42. OPA 48 addresses how the City will treat parks, trails and active open spaces that abut the City’s Natural Heritage System including the rivers. Refined Open Space, Trails and Parks policies presented in OPA 48 explicitly capture the notion of parks and open space being supportive of, complementary to and interconnected with the Natural Heritage System (NHS). The notion of appropriate naturalization of open space and parks adjacent to the Natural Heritage System has also been reinforced.

KEY MESSAGES
Guelph values its rivers and green spaces, and is committed to protecting, preserving and enhancing our natural assets and ecological systems as the city continues to grow. ’s Official Plan will direct growth and development over the next 20 years and is designed to have a positive effect on Guelph’s social, economic, cultural and natural environment. The plan has been updated in three phases over the past 5 years (OPA 39, 42 and 48). The policies presented in the third and final phase of the Official Plan update, (OPA 48) complement and support the protection, preservation and enhancement of the comprehensive Natural Heritage System established through OPA 42, including Guelph’s river systems and tributaries. This update in no way threatens the health of Guelph’s river systems. If OPA 48 is adopted, parks, trails and active open spaces must continue to support and complement nearby rivers, tributaries and other naturalized areas that are part of Guelph’s Natural Heritage System. In each phase of its Official Plan update, the City invited and responded to written submissions, promoted and hosted several open houses and meetings, and considered all comments and feedback from the community. The City continues to welcome community participation, comments and feedback on its Official Plan and other municipal policies.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS                                                                                         
About the Official Plan Update
What is the Official Plan Update?
Guelph’s Official Plan Update – Envision Guelph provides direction for the city’s growth and development over the next 20 years. Envision Guelph focuses on sustainability and sets out policies designed to have a positive effect on Guelph’s social, economic, cultural and natural environment.
Why is it being updated?
The City updates its Official Plan every five years to comply with Provincial legislation and plans, and implement new municipal policies, plans and strategies.
What’s the status of each phase of the Official Plan update?
Phase 1 - Official Plan Amendment 39 (OPA 39) brought the City's Official Plan into conformity with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. OPA 39 was adopted by City Council in June 2009 and is in full force and effect.
Phase 2 - Official Plan Amendment 42 (OPA 42) introduced policies for Guelph’s Natural Heritage System and establishes a sustainable greenspace network throughout the city. OPA 42 was adopted by Council in July 2010 is under appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board.
Phase 3 – Official Plan Amendment 48 (OPA 48) will be considered by City Council for approval on June 5, 2012
About OPA 48
What kinds of policies are proposed under OPA 48?
OPA 48 includes new and updated policies addressing the following areas:
•    strategic directions and vision to guide growth to the year 2031;
•    detailed policies to achieve of the city’s growth management framework;
•    watershed planning and water resources;
•    public health and safety including natural and human-made hazards;
•    mineral aggregate resources;
•    climate change and the City’s Community Energy Initiaitve;
•    cultural heritage resources;
•    transportation providing greater focus on transit, walking and cycling;
•    municipal services and infrastructure;
•    affordable housing;
•    parks and trails;
•    urban design consistent with the Urban Design Action Plan;
•    land use designations; and
•    new implementation tools such as height and density bonusing,

What are some of the biggest policy changes included in OPA 48?

OPA 48 includes substantial policy changes which:
    ensure high quality urban design and place-making
    create new neighbourhoods that contain a mix of uses and are walkable and transit supportive
    promote economic vitality and innovation
    support social well-being, including planning for a diversity of housing types, affordability and tenure
    protect what valuable and manage change to ensure compatibility
    incorporate the Community Energy Initiaitve aspirations, targets and strategies

Why were policies included in OPA 48 updated from the versions presented to the community in 2010?
After City Council approved OPA 42 in July 2010, the City reviewed and analyzed all public and stakeholder feedback to focus on policies that would be included in OPA 48.The City met with stakeholders and individuals to discuss their comments and concerns regarding the 2010 draft policies, and refined the proposed policies before presenting them to the community for review in January 2012.
OPA 48 includes updated proposed policies for all planning matters except those Natural Heritage System policies already approved by City Council in OPA 42.
Did the City explain the differences between the draft OP Update policies released in 2010 and the revised OP Update polices released in January 2012?
Yes. The staff report and related material that accompanied the release of the revised draft OP Update in January 2012 comprehensively summarized and analyzed all comments received and identified specific revisions that were incorporated into the revised draft to respond to the submissions.
River Systems Policies in the Official Plan
Does OPA 48 maintain the vision of the city’s 1993 River Systems Management Plan?  
Yes. The policies of OPA 48, working in conjunction with the policies of OPA 42, carry forward the elements of the River Systems Management Plan, while reflecting the evolution in approaches to natural heritage systems planning since the mid-1990’s.  Land uses abutting the Natural Heritage System (including the river systems) are planned to support and complement the NHS and must be planned to ensure the NHS is protected, maintained and, as feasible, enhanced and restored.
Does OPA 48 provide explicit policies for the “protection, maintenance, and, where possible, rehabilitation of all rivers, streams and creeks as environmental corridors”?
Those explicit policies polices were already approved by Council in July 2010 as part of OPA 42 and, as such, are not appropriate to include in OPA 48.
What is the status of OPA 42?
OPA 42 was approved by Council in July 2010 and has been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.  A hearing on OPA 42 is not expected to commence until some time in 2013.
Does OPA 48 maintain a mandatory 30 metre development setback from the river’s edge and the use of the setback as a vegetated corridor?
No, because minimum setbacks and buffers for components of the NHS, including river systems, were established through OPA 42.  
Does OPA 48 maintain the City’s plans for linked open spaces?
Yes. Open Space, Trails and Parks policies contained in OPA 48 maintain the principles of Guelph’s 2006 Official Plan with respect to the “Linked Open Space Concept” as it pertains to parklands and trails (i.e. non-NHS lands), and are consistent with the 2009 Recreation, Parks and Culture Strategic Master Plan and its vision for a greenways system.
Community Consultation
How did the City gather feedback from the community when updating the Official Plan?
In each phase of its Official Plan update, the City invited and responded to written submissions, promoted and hosted open houses and meetings, and considered all comments and feedback from the community.
Specifically for OPA 48 the City used traditional and social media to promote open houses in February and in March. Staff also met with stakeholders before and after the Public Meeting on April 2.
Was Guelph’s River Systems Advisory Committee given an opportunity to review policies included in OPA 48?
RSAC had the opportunity to review the first draft of the OP Update that was released in early 2010 and did provide comments to the City.  The comments related to the natural heritage policies and were considered through the finalization and adoption of OPA 42.
RSAC was notified of the release of the revised OP Update in January 2012 and invited to review the material and submit comments.
How can residents learn more about the Official Plan Update?
All documents relating to the three Phases of the Official Plan Update are available at guelph.ca/envisionguelph. City planning staff can be reached at City Hall 519-822-1260 or email planning@guelph.ca.
Reviewed by
Todd Salter, General Manager, Planning Services

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

FERGUSON STREET SURFACE ASPHALT
Find Out What’s Happening in Your Neighbourhood
What you need to know
As part of the Annual Asphalt program, the City has hired Cox Construction Limited to raise catch basins and manholes and place surface asphalt on Ferguson Street between Huron Street and Stevenson Street starting on or about Monday, June 11, 2012. This work will take approximately two weeks to complete all phases of the work.
Access to your property

During construction the contractor will make every effort to maintain access to all driveways, but at times your driveway may be temporarily blocked by construction equipment and/or operations during working hours. All driveways access will be restored by the end of each working day. If you have concerns about day to day construction or general questions regarding this reconstruction project please contact:


Grant Ferguson
Program Manager, Technical Services
Engineering Services
Planning & Building, Engineering and Environment
City Hall, 1 Carden St, Guelph ON  N1H 3A1
T 519-822-1260  x 2251
E grant.ferguson@guelph.ca
F 519-822-6194

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

June 4th, 2012:

Dear Mayor Farbridge and Members of Guelph City Council,

For your reference, the following information was shared:

•    The Healthy Landscape program ‘s goals are to educate residents on how to save water, money and time in their landscape. As Guelph relies solely on groundwater supplies, we need to protect it. By using less water outside, this will help to alleviate demand on peak demand days.
•    The Healthy landscape program can help residents with:
•    fun, easy ideas to help you incorporate the latest gardening trends
•    creating a low-maintenance beautiful garden
•    Learn what plants will work best with your garden's conditions
•    Learn about dazzling plant combinations that are easy to grow and maintain
•    watering your lawn and garden for best results
•    identifying pest problems and how to deal with them
•    conserving energy by planting a tree in the right location

Should you have any questions regarding the interview, please feel free to contact me through the information noted below.  

Thanks,
Karen McKeown | Outdoor Water Efficiency Technician | Water Services Division |
Planning & Building, Engineering and Environment
City of Guelph
T 519-822-1260 x 2109 | F 519-822-8837
E karen.mckeown@guelph.ca
guelph.ca/ourstoconserve

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

Good afternoon Mayor Farbridge, members of Council and the Executive Team,

This morning, staff spoke with Kenyou Wallace of the Toronto Star about the City’s plan to remarking Fife Road, Elmira Road and Silvercreek Parkway as part of the 2012 AA program from their existing 4-lanes to a new 3-lane cross section including bike lanes.  This is in response to a staff report submitted in last week’s information package.

The following comments were provided:

-    Staff confirmed the work is being done as part of the City’s Annual Asphalt program.
-    Staff clarified that a “road diet” involves removing travel lanes and reallocating the space to other uses such as bike lanes or dedicated turn lanes.
-    Staff confirmed that remarking roadways can be a means of promoting alternative modes of transportation such as cycling through the addition of bike lanes.  
-    Who does it benefit? Benefits cyclists – by providing a dedicated bike lane; Pedestrians - by reducing the number of lanes they cross and provides a refuge area as well; and Drivers - by providing a dedicated left turn lane helping to improve traffic flow by getting vehicles out of the through lane.
-    Staff commented that “road diets” have been used for a number of years throughout North America and here in Guelph.
-    A question was asked about community support for ‘road diets’ and staff commented that generally where implemented the community has been supportive (e.g. Edinburgh Road South, Downey Road, Elmira Road, Imperial Road).  Some comments staff have received from residents over the years include 1/ easier access to/from their properties and 2/ a feeling that vehicle speeds have decreased compared to before the road was remarked.

Sincerely,
Joanne Starr | Supervisor
Operations, Transit and Emergency Services |Public Works Department
Traffic & Parking

 

Further Info:

-    Staff confirmed the AA program is an annual program involving repaving of City roadways carried out by Engineering Services.
-    Staff were asked if the intent of remarking was to create bike lanes?  Staff confirmed adding bike lanes is just one benefit, but that there are other benefits as well since it allows us to allocate space for other uses as well such as dedicated turn lanes.
-    Who does it benefit? Benefits cyclists – by providing a dedicated bike lane; Pedestrians - by reducing the number of lanes they cross and provides a refuge area as well; and Drivers - by providing a dedicated left turn lane helping to improve traffic flow by getting vehicles out of the through lane, and by reducing the severity and number of collisions.
-    Re: Elmira Rd project – Staff confirmed the section being repaved is between Woodlawn Road and Speedvale Avenue.  Staff were asked if the existing gravel shoulders would be paved to accommodate the new cross section and staff confirmed that the existing gravel shoulders will remain and the new lane markings will be accommodated within the existing paved portion of the roadway.
-    Timeline on Implementation?  Within the next few months as part of the AA program.

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012


June 6th, 2012:

Good afternoon,
As the Executive Team and Council will recall, in June of 2011 at the intersection of Stone Road and Chancellor’s Way, Guelph's first bike box, a road marking that identifies where cyclists are to wait in front of cars at a red light was installed.

Some comments:
The bike box was favourably received by the bicycle community as a further step forward in being a bicycle friendly community.

No formal studies were undertaken or performance metrics developed to determine the success of the bike box, but rather just general feedback from Guelph Police Services, staff and bicycle users.There is intent by staff to add bike boxes at more intersections as criteria is developed and opportunities arise.

•    The entire Stone Road project (cycle track and bike box) cost $855,000
•    Bike box was a VERY small part of the contract (just a bit of paint)
•    Promotional items cost less than $5000 (design printed brochures and video)
•    Fun facts about video
Sincerely,
STAFF

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

http://guelph.ca/uploads/Council_and_Committees/Council/council_agenda_060512.pdf

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

Guelph Transit Safety June 5, 2012


ISSUE
Guelph Transit was involved in two separate incidents during the week of May 28-June 1.


BACKGROUND
Incident #1
On Wednesday, May 30, a Guelph Transit Operator was taken to Guelph General Hospital for examination following an unfortunate incident at Guelph Central Station. At approximately 3:30 p.m., the bus operator had stepped out of a bus and was temporarily pinned against a pole when the bus unexpectedly moved forward. Emergency Services personnel promptly arrived on the scene and the Ontario Ministry of Labour was immediately contacted to investigate this workplace accident. No passengers or pedestrians were hurt and Guelph Transit bus service was not affected.
Incident #2
On Friday, June 1, at approximately 10:30 a.m., two Guelph Transit buses were involved in a collision near the intersection of Watson Road and York Road in Guelph. Emergency Services personnel promptly arrived on the scene, and three riders and two operators were taken to Guelph General Hospital to be treated for any injuries. The collision occurred when a bus carrying four passengers on the York Road 4 route was rear-ended by an out-of-service bus returning to the Guelph Transit facility on Watson Road.


Guelph Transit :

•    Guelph Transit is committed to the safety of all passengers, operators and people travelling in the city.
•    Guelph Transit extends its sincere regret to bus passengers and operators involved in recent incidents and we are grateful no one was seriously injured.
•    We are fully investigating both incidents to determine what happened and what can be done to prevent such incidents in the future.
•    Moving forward, Guelph Transit will review public transit best practices to ensure that its safety and training methods stay consistent with industry standards.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


About Guelph Transit’s safety record


Is it safe to ride Guelph Transit?
Yes, it is very safe to ride Guelph Transit. Guelph Transit is committed to the safety of all passengers, operators and people travelling in the city. All Transit Operators go through thorough driver training and all buses are routinely checked for safety.
What is Guelph Transit’s safety record?
Guelph Transit buses are routinely checked by transit staff and have always passed Ontario Ministry of Transportation safety audits.
Since January 2012, there have been over 185,000 trips made by Guelph Transit operators and 10 preventable accidents.
(approx. 1,000 trips/day x 31 = 31,000 trips/month x six months = 186,000 trips)
In 2011, Guelph Transit vehicles travelled over 4,500,000 kilometres with eight accidents associated with over $1,000 in damage per incident. There was one personal injury associated with these accidents.
Guelph Transit identifies preventable and non-preventable accidents by determining if a transit operator did everything possible to prevent an accident from happening.
Preventable accidents include minor and non-minor accidents.
Identifying preventable accidents helps Guelph Transit to determine what type of additional training and testing operators may require.
Have the number of transit accidents increased this year?
At this point in time, the accident rate does not appear to be significantly different than 2011. We are continually monitoring our preventable accident rate to identify any issues and areas that require improvement in order to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to prevent future accidents.


About Guelph Transit’s recent accidents
Will the recent accidents affect future transit service?
Guelph Transit service this summer will not be affected by the recent accidents as there is adequate fleet when the University is not in full session. Staff are currently assessing whether there may be a requirement for replacement vehicles in the Fall when full service goes back into effect.
Is there a reason for two potentially serious accidents occurring within one week?

We will be fully investigating both incidents to determine what happened and what can be done to prevent such incidents in the future. All Guelph Transit operators go through extensive training and testing before they are allowed to operate a bus.
Does Guelph Transit release the findings of its investigations and recommended next steps?
Guelph Transit does not release the findings of internal investigations however it will announce any recommended next steps that are identified as a result of the investigation.


About Guelph Transit Operator Training
What kind of training does Guelph Transit provide to operators?
All new transit operators must go through a nine-week training course before they may drive a Guelph Transit bus. Training includes:
-    10 days of in-class training
-    four weeks of on-street training
-    two and one-half weeks of shadowing experienced transit operators
-    one-half week of parking training
New operators are also evaluated by management and their peers during training.
If an operator is away from work for more than 30 days, they are required to be retrained to ensure they are comfortable behind the wheel before they go back to work.
Do operators go through recurrent testing/training?
Yes. Guelph Transit operators must reapply for their license every five years as required by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Additionally, Guelph Transit will routinely inspect operators to ensure they are following proper protocol.
How are buses maintained to ensure they are safe to ride?
Guelph Transit does preventative maintenance every 15,000 km. If an issue is safety related, the vehicle is taken off the road immediately and brought in for service.
All vehicles have a defect book for minor issues. If an operator identifies a vehicle defect (i.e. interior light not working, gauge inoperable, etc.), a defect sheet describing the problem is filled in by the operator and collected by Fleet Maintenance every night and the problem is resolved before the vehicle goes back into service.


Reviewed by:
Mike Anders, General Manager, Guelph Transit  
Heather Roseveare, Corporate Manager, Corporate Communications  
Prepared by:
Jessica Voin, Communications Coordinator, Corporate Communications

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

INFORMATION BULLETIN

Guelph uses “environment-first” approach to city planning
Updated Official Plan to direct growth over 20 years
GUELPH, ON, Thursday, June 7
– City Council has approved the third and final phase of Guelph’s Official Plan update. Official Plan Amendment 48 (OPA 48) includes several policies to enhance Guelph’s social, economic, cultural and natural environment.

Guelph’s Official Plan - Envision Guelph - will direct growth and development over the next 20 years. Updates to the policies included in the plan will encourage well-designed, walkable, transit-friendly neighbourhoods; promote economic vitality and innovation; support social well-being; and incorporate goals of Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative.

Specifically, OPA 48 includes new and updated policies to address growth to the year 2031 including:
•    watershed planning and water resources
•    climate change and the City’s Community Energy Initiative
•    greater focus on transit, walking and cycling
•    parks and trails
•    cultural heritage resources
•    municipal services and infrastructure
•    mineral aggregate resources
•    affordable housing
•    urban design and implementation tools (e.g. height and density bonusing)
•    land use designations
“The plan has been updated in three phases over the past five years,” said Todd Salter, General Manager of Planning Services. “City Council has already approved the first two phases which brought Guelph’s plan into conformity with the Provincial Growth Plan, and articulated specific policies to protect, preserve and enhance Guelph’s River systems and natural spaces that make up our Natural Heritage System.”

Guelph values its rivers and green spaces, and the City’s Official Plan continues to put the environment first - protecting, preserving and enhancing the city’s natural assets and ecological systems as the city continues to grow.

Updating Guelph’s Official Plan

Since 2007 the City has been conducting a five-year Official Plan update.

Phase 1 (OPA 39) established a growth management framework and brought the Official Plan into conformity with the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. OPA 39 was adopted by Council in 2009 and is in full force and effect.

Phase 2 (OPA 42) was the remainder of the Official Plan update and was driven by the 2005 Provincial Policy Statement, the Planning Act, the Ontario Heritage Act and the Clean Water Act, as well as the City’s Urban Design Action Plan, Community Energy Plan, Trails Master Plan, Recreation, Parks and Culture Strategic Plan, Employment Lands Strategy and other infrastructure studies and master plans.

The first draft of OPA 42 was released in early 2010 and the City conducted extensive community and stakeholder consultation. In May 2010, in response to community input and recognizing the importance of proceeding with the natural heritage policies while allowing time for public consultation on the update, Council directed staff to proceed with finalizing the Natural Heritage System policies.

OPA 42 was split into two parts; the Natural Heritage System policies were carried forward as OPA 42 and adopted by Council in July 2010 while the remaining policies became Phase 3 - eventually numbered OPA 48.

Phase 3 (OPA 48) began in late 2010 as the City analysed all public and stakeholder feedback on the first draft of OPA 42 and focused on policy matters that remained part of OPA 48. The City met with stakeholders and individuals to discuss their comments and explore solutions to their concerns. The proposed policies were revised based on these discussions, and were included in a second draft that excluded natural heritage policies addressed and approved in Phase 2 (OPA 42).

OPA 48 was released for further public review on January 30, 2012. The City promoted and hosted two formal open houses and a public meeting seeking community input. OPA 48 was approved by City Council on June 5, 2012.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Todd Salter, General Manager
Planning Services
T 519-822-1260 x 2395
E todd.salter@guelph.ca

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

June 12th, 2012:

Q. Why does your facility require an additional 900 tonnes of organic material (SSO) from the City of Hamilton for processing?
R. The contract between the City and Maple Reinders has a substantial completion clause in the contract that requires the facility to be operated under maximum capacity for a period of 3 consecutive weeks  without any environmental or operational issues. The facility is approved to process 30,000 tonnes of SSO per year and currently the facility is only receiving  approximately 20,000 tonnes so in order to get to full capacity to meet the substantial completion clause in the contract an additional 900 tonnes of SSO during a 6 week period was required to be sourced.   

Q. How much SSO is Waterloo currently sending to this facility and what tonnage have they committed to sending here for processing?
R. Currently they are sending approximately 10,000 tonnes per year on average and they have committed to sending 20,000 tonnes per year.

Q. Is this a concern for the City?
R. Not at all, the City will resume processing all SSO generated by the City of Guelph and the Region of Waterloo once the additional 900 tonnes is processed.

Q. Will there be any additional cost to the City to process this extra 900 tonnes of Hamilton SSO is sent here for processing?
A. There will be additional costs associated to the transportation of the SSO from Hamilton to Guelph and the cost difference between the amount of processing costs that Aim Environmental receives from the generator of the SSO and the cost charged by Wellington Organix to the City for processing the material here. I do not know at this time what the exact additional costs will be.

Q.  Is the City confident that the issues that caused the odours in November are corrected i.e. the negative air pressure and sensors that caused the odours?
R. Any odours that were being discharged from the facility were never a result of loss of negative air pressure as the City has in fact maintained negative air pressure at all times. The odours were a result of faulty ammonia sensors that were affected by contaminants other than ammonia in an organic processing environment. The City is very confident that facility is operating as designed and is not creating any impacts to our neighbours.

Q. Is the City confident that the ammonia sensor issue has been corrected?
R. Yes, the acid system is now designed to be triggered by a pH factor and it is working very effectively to control odours.

Bill Shields | Supervisor, Governance & Compliance
Planning, Building, Engineering and Environment | Solid Waste Resources
City of Guelph
T 519-822 -1260 x 2058 | F 519-767-1660  
E bill.shields@guelph.ca

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

From Mayfield Park Group:

PARTNERS IN COMMUNITY BUILDING
BEATE BOWRON ETCETERA INC. & THE DAVIDSON GROUP INC.


MEMORANDUM

TO:    KATE MACDONALD, MPCA            
FROM:    BEATE BOWRON & GARY DAVIDSON
DATE:    JUNE 5, 2012    
SUBJECT:    REVISED APPLICATION BY ABODE VARSITY LIVING FOR 716 GORDON ST.

Below, please find a summary of our professional planning opinion regarding the revised application, dated April 12, 2012, by Abode Varsity Living for the site at 716 Gordon Street.

1.    The revised proposal for two apartment buildings of 12 storeys (Phase 1) and 10 storeys (Phase 2) accommodating some 1200 students still constitutes over-development of the site and is not in conformity with the in force City of Guelph Official Plan nor with the policies in Envision Guelph (OPA 48), which are currently before Guelph City Council.

2.    The in force Guelph Official Plan designates 716 Gordon Street as a General Residential Area permitting low-rise housing forms of up to 3 storeys and up to 35 units per hectare. This may be increased to up to 4 storeys and 100 units per hectare, if a site is located on an arterial road.  The density of the proposed development is 156 units per hectare, far in excess of that permitted, and slightly higher that the maximum permitted in a High Density Residential Area.  At 12 and 10 storeys it virtually triples the maximum heights.

3.    General residential policies for multiple unit residential buildings require, among other items, “that the building form, massing, appearance and siting are compatible in design, character and orientation with buildings in the immediate vicinity”, when evaluating a development proposal.
 
716 Gordon Street is surrounded by a stable low-density residential area directly to the east and south.  All other higher intensity uses in the vicinity of the site are separated from it by arterial roads.

The proposed 12 and 10 storey buildings are massive and overwhelm the adjacent single-family neighbourhood.  In reviewing the Artists Concepts submitted with the revised application, the view of the single-family houses on Evergreen Drive appears to be quite out of scale, as do the trees, which seem to hide the new building (Building 2) almost entirely and seem the exceed its 10 storey height.

4.    716 Gordon Street is located in an ‘Intensification Corridor’. Existing Official Plan policies envision generally higher densities than the surrounding areas, provided there is an appropriate transition of built form to adjacent areas.  As mentioned above, the proposed development does not provide for such a ‘transition’.  Existing policies for ‘Intensification Corridors’ also suggest a mix of uses, including a range of local services.  The proposed development is single-use only.  All amenities in the proposed buildings are for the sole use of the anticipated 1200 students.

While more detailed policies may be developed for other ‘Intensification Corridors’ in Guelph, this portion of Gordon Street has been examined during the recent Official Plan Review (OPA 48), which proposes to designate the area in which the site is located as Low Density Residential.  The area of Gordon Street south of Kortright Road is already subject to the South Gordon Community Plan.

5.    Since the proposed development does not meet the objectives of Guelph’s current and proposed Official Plan policies, the proposed rezoning of 716 Gordon Street from “Specialized Service Commercial 1-11” to “”High Density (R.4B) Apartment Zone” runs counter to the same planning principles.

6.    It is our professional opinion that Abode’s revised development proposal presents an over-concentration of purpose-built student housing on this site and does not transition appropriately to the adjacent low-density residential neighbourhood.  The proposed development contravenes current and proposed City of Guelph planning regulations and does not respect the principles of sound land use planning.

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

June 9th, 2012:

ON BEHALF OF THE MEMBERS OF THE MAYFIELD PARK COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK-YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO YOU REGARDING ABODE’S AMENDED PROPOSAL.

ALTHOUGH COUNCIL WILL NO LONGER BE MAKING THE  DECISION ON WHETHER THIS APPLICATION WILL BE APPROVED, WE BELIEVE THE POSITION TAKEN BY THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT AND THE CITY COUNCIL IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE TO ALL OF THE CITIZENS OF GUELPH.   IN ADDITION, THE PLANNING ACT NOW REQUIRES THE OMB TO CONSIDER THE DECISION OF THE LOCAL COUNCIL. WE HAVE ALREADY MADE LENGTHY SUBMISSIONS TO COUNCIL IN JANUARY OF 2011 AND PROVIDED EXPERT PLANNING REPORTS. WE WILL NOT REPEAT ALL OF OUR SUBMISSIONS BUT WE URGE YOU TO REVIEW THE INFORMATION WE’VE PROVIDED TO DATE. WE DO NOT FEEL THE AMENDED APPLICATION ADEQUATELY ADDRESSES ANY OF THE CONCERNS RAISED INITIALLY. TONIGHT WE ARE PROVIDING YOU WITH A  WRITTEN SUMMARY OF THE PROFESSIONAL OPINION OF OUR PLANNERS BEATE BOWRON AND GARY DAVIDSON  IN RELATION TO THE AMENDED PROPOSAL AND I WILL HIGHLIGHT SOME OF OUR MAJOR CONCERNS  WITH MY COMMENTS. THE REVISED APPLICATION DOES NOT MEET THE REQUIRED CRITERIA IN SECTIONS 7.2.7  a) c) or d) THE OFFICIAL PLAN RELATING TO MULTIPLE UNIT RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS.

FIVE MAJOR AREAS OF CONCERN WE WANT TO HIGHLIGHT TONIGHT ARE AS FOLLOWS :

    
1. OVERDEVELOPMENT OF THE SITE
2. A COMPLETELY INADEQUATE TRANSITION TO THE EXISTING NEIGHBOURHOOD.
3. SINGLE USE DEVELOPMENT
4. INADEQUATE PROVISION FOR PARKING
5. DETRIMENTAL EFFECT  ON  STABILITY AND THE USE AND ENJOYMENT, SAFETY AND SECURITY OF THE EXISTING NEIGHBOURHOOD and the SAFETY AND SECURITY OF PEDESTRIANS, CYCLISTS AND MOTORISTS.

1. OVERDEVELOPMENT OF THE SITE


WITH OVER 1200 BEDROOMS AND AT LEAST THAT MANY RESIDENTS  IT IS SIMPLY TOO MANY PEOPLE FOR THE SIZE AND LOCATION OF THE PROPERTY. THIS IS EVIDENCED BY THE SIGNIFICANT CONCESSIONS BEING SOUGHT BY WAY OF AMENDMENT TO THE OFFICIAL PLAN AND THE BY-LAWS. THE AMENDED PLAN INDICATES THERE WILL BE 2-5 BEDROOMS PER UNIT. PLEASE NOTE THAT  OVER 93% OF THE UNITS WILL HAVE 4-5 BEDROOMS. THE PROPOSED BUILDING VIRTUALLY TRIPLES THE MAXIMUM HEIGHTS ALLOWED UNDER THE CURRENT OP AND OP AMENDMENT 48 WHICH WAS ADOPTED BY COUNCIL YESTERDAY. THE PROPOSAL ALMOST QUADRUPLES THE CURRENT MAXIMUM OCCUPANCY OF THE HOTEL.

2. INADEQUATE TRANSITION TO EXISTING NEIGHBOURHOOD


THE BUILDINGS  OVERWHELM THE NEIGHBOURING PROPERTIES. IT IS MASSIVE AND OUT OF CHARACTER WITH THE NEIGHBOURHOOD. IT IS NOT COMPATIBLE IN DESIGN CHARACTER AND ORIENTATION TO THE  STABLE LOW RISE HOMES IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY. THE PROPERTY IS IN AN INTESIFICATION CORRIDOR WHERE OFFICIAL PLAN POLICIES ENVISION HIGHER DENSITIES THAN THE SURROUNDING AREAS BUT THIS IS ONLY PROVIDED THERE IS AN APPROPRIATE TRANSITION TO THE EXISTING NEIGHBOURHOOD. THE BUILDINGS WILL CAST THE PROPERTIES ON EVERGREEN AND FURTHER INTO THE NEIGHBOURHOOD INTO SHADE FOR UNACCEPTABLE PERIODS OF TIME AND WILL DETRIMENTALLY AFFECT THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF THE PEOPLE LIVING IN THE EXISTING NEIGHBOURHOOD. OTHER HIGHER DENSITY  DEVELOPMENTS IN THE AREA, SUCH AS THE SOUTH RESIDENCE, ARE NOT MORE THAN 4-5 STOREYS ARE SEPARATED BY  EXTENSIVE GREEN SPACE AND AN ARTERIAL ROAD. THERE NEEDS TO BE AN APPROPRIATE TRANSITION BETWEEN THE EXISITING STABLE LOW DENSITY NEIGHBOURHOOD AND THIS PROPOSAL SIMPLY DOES NOT PROVIDE ONE.

3.  THE AMENDED PROPOSAL IS  SINGLE USE

INTENSIFICATION PRINCIPLES IN THE OFFICIAL PLAN AND OPA 48 SUPPORT MIXED USE. THIS PROPOSAL IS SINGLE USE / STUDENT PURPOSE BUILT HOUSING WITH SERVICES FOR THE EXCLUSIVE USE OF THE RESIDENTS LIVING WITHIN IT.
THIS IS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE BASIC GOALS AND GUIDELINES FOR INTENSIFICATION AS SET OUT IN OUR NEWLY AMENDED OFFICIAL PLAN. IT IS SIMPLY PUT AND OVER CONCENTRATION OF STUDENT PURPOSE BUILT HOUSING

4. PARKING

IF BASED ON THE NUMBER OF UNITS ONLY, AN APARTMENT BUILDING OF THIS SIZE WOULD BE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE 344 PARKING SPACES AVAILABLE FOR IT’S RESIDENTS.  THE APPLICANT IS ASKING THAT  ONLY 279 PARKING SPACES BE PROVIDED.  THIS IS DEFFICENT BY 65 PARKING SPACES.  WHERE WILL THESE RESIDENTS PARK ?  IT WON’T BE ON GORDON STREET OR STONE ROAD. THE NOTICE CIRCULATED BY THE CITY ACKNOWLDGES THAT THE PROPOSED UNITS MEET THE DEFINITION OF A LODGING HOUSE.  THEREFORE, 264 LODGING HOUSES ARE PROPOSED ON THIS PROPERTY.  THIS IS NOT AN UNACCEPTABLE IMPACT TO OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD. IF THE LODGING HOUSE PARKING RATIO IS APPLIED 408 PARKING SPACES WOULD BE REQUIRED.  THIS IS A DEFFICIENCY OF 129 PARKING SPACES.  AGAIN WHERE WILL THESE RESIDENTS PARK GIVEN THAT THE IS ONLY ONE PARKING SPACE PER UNIT. IF YOU DRIVE AROUD OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD YOU CAN SEE THAT THE HOUSES IN OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD WHICH ARE SHARED BY STUDENTS HAVE  3-4 CARS IN PARKED THEIR DRIVEWAYS GIVEN THE NUMBER OF PROPOSED RESIDENTS AND THE UNUSALLY HIGH NUMBER OF BEDROOMS PER UNIT, IF ANYTHING, ALLOCATION FOR PARKING SHOULD BE HIGHER THAN THE BY-LAW REQUIRES TO ACCOMODATE OVER 1,200 RESIDENTS,  EMPLOYEES AND VISITORS.

5. THE AMENDED PROPOSAL WILL DETRIMENTALLY AFFECT THE USE AND ENJOYMENT  AND SAFETY AND SECURITY OF THE EXISTING NEIGHBOURHOOD, PEDESTRIAN’S AND CYCLISTS AND MOTORISTS

THE PROPERTIES ON EVERGREEN AND BEYOND WILL BE SUBJECTED TO UNREASONABLE BLOCKAGE OF SUN INTO THEIR BACK GARDENS. I ENJOY THE WINTER SUN IN MY BACK YARD AND I DO NOT WELCOME THE PROSPECT THAT IN WINTER MY BACKYARD WILL BE PLUNGED INTO SHADE FROM 2.00 pm ONWARD. MANY PEOPLE ON EVERGREEN HAVE BEAUTIFUL SUNROOMS THAT WILL FACE THIS COMPLEX , WE ALREADY PROVIDED PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE GARDENS IN THE WINTER. THE SHADE FROM THE BUILDINGS IS NOT THE SAME AND THE SUN DAPPLIING THROUGH THE TREES. THE NEIGHBOURING PROPERTIES WILL LOSE PRIVACY. THE PRIVATE STUDENT HOUSING DEVELOPMENT ON EDINBURGH AT CHANCELLOR’S WAY HAS THE HIGHEST INCIDENTS OF NOISE COMPLAINTS IN THE CITY AND IT IS NOT NEXT TO A LOW DENSITY RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBOURHOOD. THEN CHIEF OF POLICE ROB DAVIS PROVIDED WRITTEN  COMMENTS TO THE CITY PLANNING DEPARTMENT INDICATING THAT, « IF APPROVED, THE PROJECT IS LIKELY TO SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE VEHICLE AND PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC IN AN AREA WHICH IS BUSY NOW AND WILL LIKELY RESULT IN AN INCREASE IN CALLS FOR POLICE INTERVENTION TO NOISE, PARTIES AND NEIGHBOURS CONCERNS. »  WE THINK WE SHOULD TAKES THE COMMENTS MADE BY THE CHIEF OF POLICE VERY SERIOUSLY.  THE TRAFFIC STUDIES PREPARED BY THE DEVELOPER CONFIRM THAT THE CRITERIA IN THE OFFICIAL PLAN AND THE INCREASE IN TRAFFIC WILL NOT BE ACCOMODATED WITH MINIMAL IMPACT ON THE RESIDENTIAL STREETS AND INTERSECTION AROUND IT. THE TRAFFIC STUDY PROVIDED BY THE DEVELOPER SHOULD BE PEER REVIEWED BY THE CITY AS THEY ARE INADEQUATE AND DO NOT ADDRESS SAFETY CONCERNS RAISED.  THE FINDINGS* OF THE STUDY DO NOT MATCH THE CONCLUSIONS. THERE IS IN ADEQUATE INFORMATION REGARDING PEDESTRIAN SAFETY. THE APPLICANTS STUDIES MAKE UNREALISTIC ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT USE OF INTERSECTION CROSS WALKS . ANYONE WHO LIVES  IN THIS NEIGHBOURHOOD HAS OBSERVED STUDENTS  LIVING AT THE BEST WESTERN THIS YEAR CUTTING ACROSS THE STREET MID BLOCK MULTPLE TIMES A DAY.  THERE WERE ONLY 65 STUDENT  LIVING THERE THIS YEAR WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THAT INCREASES TO OVER 1200? THE CURRENT TRAFFIC WOES AT THIS INTERSECTION GIVE US A SNAP SHOT OF WHAT DIFFICULTIES ENSUE WITH INCREASED TRAFFIC FLOW AT THIS INTERSECTION AND IN THIS NEIGHBOURHOOD.   DRIVERS, INCLUDING EMERGENCY RESPONSE VEHICLES SUCH AS FIRE TRUCKS  ARE ALREADY TAKING SHORTCUTS THROUGH OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD OUT OF FRUSTRATION WITH THE CONGESTION.  DRIVERS WAITING TO TURN LEFT FROM COLBORN ON TO STONE IN THE MORNING EITHER HAVE TO GIVE UP AND TURN RIGHT AND CUT THROUGH THE UNIVESITY OR HOPE FOR A SHORT GAP AND THEN TRY TO MAKE A BREAK FOR IT. THIS POSES SERIOUS SAFETY HAZARDS. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO PROCEED SAFELY AT A GREEN LIGHT AT STONE AND GORDON UNTIL YOU WAIT FOR THE INTERSECTION TO CLEAR .  THIS POSES SAFETY ISSUES FOR PEDESTRIANS AND OTHER MOTORISTS.
EVEN BEFORE THE CLOSURE OF VICTORIA IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT TO TURN SAFELY FROM MONTICELLO TO PROCEED SAFELY ON PROCEED SOUTH ON GORDON STREET. WE HAVE SAFETY CONCERNS ABOUT THE PROPOSED DRIVE WAYS FOR THE PROPERTY AND THE SAFTETY ISSUES RAISED BY THEIR PROXIMITY TO THIS MAJOR INTERSECTION OF STONE AND GORDON. AT THIS POINT THE WAIT LINE TO TURN LEFT ONTO STONE FROM NORTHBOUND GORDON EXTENDS PAST WHERE THE PROPOSED DRIVEWAY WOULD BE LOCATED.  IT WILL OFTEN BE UNSAFE FOR VEHICLES EXITING FROM THE PROPOSED STONE RD DRIVEWAY TO TURN LEFT . IF CAN’T WAIT FOR A GAP THEY WILL NO DOUBT TURN RIGHT AND THEN CUT THROUGH THE NEIGHBOURHOOD SIDESTREETS. IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ALREADY APPROVED DEVELOPMENTS TO THE EAST AND SOUTH OF THE PROPERTY WE FEEL THESE CONCERNS HAVE NOT BEEN PROPERLY ADDRESSED BY THE STUDIES PROVIDED.   A COMPREHENSIVE TRAFFIC STUDY SHOULD BE PRODUCED BY THE CITY FOR THE GORDON STREET CORRIDOR.

 * THE GORDON AND STONE INTERSECTION IS ALREADY OPERATING AT LEVEL OF SERVICE  E DURING PEAK TIMES.  
•    THE INCREASE IN SITE TRAFFIC WILL INCREASE THE LEFT TURN DELAY IN THE PM PEAK.   
•    DURING THE PEAK HOURS DELAYS CAN BE EXPECTED FOR VEHICLES TURNING LEFT ONTO STONE ROAD DUE TO    HEAVY EAST/WEST TRAFFIC  VOLUME.   
•    THE NORTHBOUND LEFT LANE ON GORDON IS BLOCKED BY CARS TURING LEFT ONTO STONE 2 TO 4 TIMES IN THE AM AND PM.

CONCLUSION

THE APPLICATION AND PROPOSED REZONING  IS CONTRARY TO THE PROVISIONS AND THE SPIRIT, INTENT and OBJECTIVES OF  THE OFFICIAL PLAN AND OP 48 AND DOES NOT RESPECT SOUND PLANNING PRINCIPLES.

WE ASK YOU TO RECOMMEND AGAINST THE PROPOSAL AND JOIN US IN PURSUING A VISION FOR  RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT FOR OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD AND OUR CITY.

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

Good afternoon,

The City of Guelph is hosting a Construction Open House in advance of building a flood protection facility and re-naturalizing Howitt Creek within the former Lafarge lands (currently owned by Silvercreek Guelph Developments Limited).  The flood protection facility is required before reconstruction and re-alignment of Silvercreek Parkway through the Silvercreek Guelph Development Limited lands.  

The open house will be held on June 19th from 6pm to 8pm at the Guelph Optimist Club at 89 Beechwood Ave.  

The full notice is available on the City’s website via the following link:

http://www.guelph.ca/cityhall.cfm?itemid=81174&smocid=1594

The project area and location of the Guelph Optimist Club are shown on the attached map.

Background information including OMB Minutes of Settlement and supporting documentation are available via the following link:

http://guelph.ca/living.cfm?itemid=74597&smocid=1646


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Regards,
Colin Baker, P.Eng. | Environmental Engineer
Engineering Services | Planning & Building, Engineering and Environment
City of Guelph

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

Good day, please be advised that an accountability and transparency webpage has now been posted to guelph.ca. This page provides an easy reference point for the measures currently in place as well as all related materials. At present, it contains information related to the Municipal Act and City policies, the closed meeting investigation process, Council Code of Conduct, Procedural By-law, Closed Meeting Protocol and Governance Manual. Staff will continue to maintain and update this information when necessary.
Regards,
Blair Labelle | City Clerk
City Clerk’s Department | Corporate and Human Resources
City of Guelph

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

City opens interactive water fountain in Market Square
Residents encouraged to visit downtown and enjoy the fountain


GUELPH, ON, Friday, June 8 – The interactive water fountain in Market Square will begin operating today.
“City staff has been busy testing the fountain, training staff and ensuring the proper operating procedures are in place,” said Mario Petricevic, General Manager of Corporate Building Maintenance. “The water fountain has received approval by the local health department and is officially open for people to use and enjoy.”
Initially, the water fountain, washrooms and changing area in the Pavilion building will be open to the public from 9 a.m until 10 p.m., seven days a week. The schedules may be adjusted throughout the summer if necessary.

“We are very excited about the opening of Market Square’s interactive water fountain,” said Colleen Clack, General Manager of Culture and Tourism. “There are a number of events planned for Market Square throughout the summer that we expect will attract people downtown.”
For more information about the operating schedule of the interactive water fountain and schedule of events, visit guelph.ca/marketsquare.

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Saturday Jun 9th - 2012

June 9th, 2012

Mayor, Councillors and Executive team:


Public Works staff are undertaking an 8 week “Pilot Project” to host a Wednesday Farmers’ Market, in the Farmers Market building, at the request of our vendors and customers.  The pilot project would start on Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 and run once weekly from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm for the 8 week period.
Vendors would be both inside the building and in the rear parking lot.  We would be able to accommodate new vendors that are currently on a waiting list for an opening on Saturdays as well as some of our current vendors. Advertising would be part of the pilot project and revenue and operational costs have been taken into consideration and would offset. We will establish a number of performance metrics to help us determine the success of the pilot project and review the results with the  Guelph Farmers’ Market Executive Committee.
We, the vendors and staff, believe that this is a great opportunity to give this mid week market a try. In addition, if successful, there is opportunity to align with other special events that would be occurring in the Market Square and throughout the downtown in the future .
If you have any concerns or questions, please contact me directly.
Best regards,

Allister McILveen | Manager
Operations & Transit |Public Works Department
Traffic and Parking
City of Guelph
T 519-822-1260 x 2275| F 519-822-1751
E allister.mcilveen@guelph.ca

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

I’ve always admired the willingness and ability of my daughter Sophie to tell it like it is, and on Wednesday she once again demonstrated this ability.

She was sitting on the couch while I looked at our city hall blog on the computer nearby. Sophie, who recently purchased a new bike, noticed a photo of a ‘bike route’ sign which accompanied a post about the city installing such signs on Grange Road.

When she inquired about the sign, I explained a city committee had recently opted not to install bicycle lanes on Grange east of Victoria Road, and instead would be spending approximately $5,000 to install the bike route signs.

“That’s pretty stupid,” she replied. “If I saw that sign I would think there’s bike lanes there.”

I explained the purpose of the signs is to encourage people to ride their bicycles on Grange.

“You can ride on Grange all the time,” Sophie replied. “Me and Megan used to ride our bikes on there all the time.”

Indeed, when we lived in that neighbourhood a couple of years ago both of my daughters used to ride on Grange to access local parks or go to the store.

“You can ride on any street, can’t you?” Sophie asked.

Well yes. Yes you can.

But now when you ride on Grange you will do so knowing the city is encouraging you to do so.

A staff report before the committee noted bicycle use on Grange is “very low,” and noted installing bicycle lanes would require the removal of on-street parking which would not be well received by homeowners in the area.

One such homeowner attended the committee meeting to ensure members this was so.

I kind of understand staff’s rationale for not recommending bicycle lanes at this time. It’s the installation of the signs — and the $5,000 price tag for doing so — that bothers me.

Some commenters have challenged me on the blog, suggesting five grand to install 14 bike route signs is likely not that different than the cost of installing 14 other street signs. True enough, but it would be difficult to argue we don’t need “STOP” or speed-limit signs, whatever the cost.

My issue with the Bike Route signs is simply that we don’t need them. Riding bicycles on Grange Road — and indeed, as Sophie noted, every other street in the city — is already permitted, and the fact the city would like people to use Grange will likely hold no sway to the pedalling public.

The issue raised the ire of Coun. Cam Guthrie, who is a known watcher of the city’s pennies.

“If the intent is to “encourage” something that’s already widely known is legally allowed everywhere on our streets, then it’s a “warm and fuzzy do nothing make work project,” ” Guthrie wrote in an email Thursday. “If we have to put up signs telling people it’s a bike route, then we shouldn’t stop there, we should put up sidewalk signs on sidewalks to let people know that they are sidewalks.”

Indeed, if the city wants to encourage people to cycle on Grange Road they should stop subsidizing residents’ overflow parking and install bike lanes.

Interestingly, a staff report from last September notes remarking Grange with bicycle lanes “would be in keeping with the objectives of the Bicycle Policy adopted by council.”

There could be legal reasons to pursue this option as well.

That report from last fall notes bicycle lanes “are considered to be safer than unmarked on-street bicycle routes.”

So the city acknowledges bicycle lanes are safer places for cyclists to ride, but with this latest recommendation is encouraging more cyclists onto Grange which is an unmarked on-street bicycle route?

If the city really wants to make an impact with signs, Guthrie has a suggestion.

“If the city wants to “encourage” people with signs then how about signs that say “Don’t lie to your parents?” ” the councillor wrote.

I’m awaiting Sophie’s take on that one.

Scott Tracey is a Mercury staff writer. His Jury of One column appears Fridays. He can be reached at stracey@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

April 20th, 2012: GUELPH – Five city councillors have chipped in $1 each to seek from the province information city staff has refused to release to them.

Coun. Cam Guthrie submitted a Freedom of Information request to the provincial Environment Ministry in an attempt to access a report sent to the city earlier this month about air quality at the Waste Resource Innovation Centre on Dunlop Drive.

Guthrie said councillors received an email from city staff on April 5 indicating the report had been received, but that staff felt there were inaccuracies in the document which would be taken up with the ministry.

Guthrie said he emailed two staff members and asked to see the report, and after the holiday weekend went to see one of them to make the request in person. He said he was told he could not see the report.

Guthrie said immediately after that exchange he encountered some other councillors while waiting for a committee meeting to start “and I was sort of venting and someone suggested putting in an FOI, so I decided that’s what I would do.”

Guthrie and councillors Gloria Kovach, Andy Van Hellemond, Jim Furfaro and Bob Bell each shared the $5 cost of submitting the application, Kovach said in an interview Friday.

“It’s information councillors wanted to see, but we were being told we’re not allowed to see it,” Kovach said.

Guthrie said he has been told his request has been discussed with the city’s legal staff “and it could be coming back at an in-camera meeting.”

However, City of Guelph Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert wrote in an email Friday “once a report is finalized all members of Council will be provided with a copy and at present, I do not believe this matter is a closed session report item.”

Guthrie said he is frustrated he felt the need to go over the city’s head to get such information.

“It shouldn’t have come to this,” he said. “I want to be fully informed on issues before I hit the Yes or No button.

“Some have said I tend to ask too many questions … but I need to be accountable to taxpayers and how can I be accountable if I don’t have all the information?” he added.

Kovach said having difficulty getting information from city staff is not new.

She is still awaiting a response to a question posed in February, for example, about the cost of holding off-site meetings at Cutten Fields. Kovach said the city used to have a lot of meetings at the facility on College Avenue, but since the new city hall and Clair Road Emergency Services Centre were built there is ample city-owned meeting space.

Instead of an answer to her question, Kovach received from Pappert a lengthy email outlining city protocols for dealing with councillor inquiries.

Pappert wrote the request would fall under a section of the city’s Governance Manual dealing with “new projects and initiatives” because it would “cause the re-allocation of staff resources away from existing priorities.

“Individual members of council do not have authority to direct staff work,” Pappert wrote, quoting the Governance Manual.

Kovach isn’t buying it.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” she said Friday. “This (information) should be easy to get. The time it took to write the email they probably could have provided the information I was looking for.”

In an email Friday, Pappert said there is a mechanism in place for requesting information such as that for which Kovach was looking.

“(Councillors) would raise it in open transparent forum – a standing committee or Council meeting,” the CAO wrote. “They would be asked to describe their request and seek the support of their colleagues as part of the democratic process.”

stracey@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Politicians earned their stripes

The members of the large Guelph community of retired and still-serving NHL linesmen and referees might want to offer honorary inductions to the club to Guelph city councillor Cam Guthrie and its MP Frank Valeriote.

The two politicians earned at least consideration for honorary referee’s or linesmen’s stripes in quickly entering a downtown sidewalk fray Wednesday afternoon.

The two came to be next to a suddenly developed heated confrontation between two other men after arriving separately to that spot.

They stepped at once into the scuffle. They calmly helped to divide the two antagonists. They also respectfully engaged the bellicose men and urged them to desist from fighting and to depart, separately, peacefully. Then, they returned to the scene to help keep things orderly when a member of the crowd nearly came to blows with one of the combatants after the crowd bystander inelegantly and loudly condemned the would-be brawler’s actions and profanity.

Unfortunately, violent portions of the drama aren’t terribly uncommon in that location. This was a point raised with Guthrie by an observer of the fracas a moment after Guthrie’s successful turn as peacemaker. Such would also be well known to Valeriote given that his office was just a block or so away from where the encounter unfolded.

Addressing this is a challenge for the community and for different levels of government. Though a lot of political and police attention is paid to the core and Guelph’s downtown remains one of the most dynamic and charming ones in the province — if not Canada.

In this isolated case, two politicians deserve credit for the leadership and courage they showed without hesitation.

They immediately assumed considerable risk on many levels. They never engaged in an instant of grandstanding or playing to the crowd during or after the flap. They just jumped in and served the public in a manner that was most effective.

It was great citizenship, some heroism and, again, a nice bit of refereeing. Well done gentlemen.

Guelph Mercury Article

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

April 21st, 2012: GUELPH — Rob Orobono is fed up with walking through the city’s green spaces and seeing piles of garbage.

Over the last two years, the amount of trash ending up along the trails and parks in the south end has increased tremendously, he said, and not just candy wrappers and plastic bags.

“There was a computer one time, there were chairs, there were broken tables,” he said, speaking about Gosling Gardens Park, near his house. “Everyone treats it like it’s their personal dumping zone.”

Orobono said he and his wife would take walks with their dog on the trails near their house and find all kinds of junk, from discarded furniture to other large items resting just off the path.

“It’s absolutely pathetic,” Orobono said. “It’s gotten out of control.”

Murray Cameron, the city’s manager of parks and greenways, said there are a number of hotspots around the city that seem to collect a large amount of garbage, and Gosling Gardens is one of them.

“It’s been a target of ours for the last two or three years,” he said, adding the area is currently being patrolled by bylaw officers. When a dumping of garbage is found, he said city staff are to examine the individual pieces of trash in hopes of identifying who it belongs to.

Larger items such as furniture and electronics, however, are rarely disposed of with an address or postal code.

“Staff are very frustrated with this,” Cameron said. “We can empty a can one morning and it will be overflowing in the afternoon because of illegal disposal of waste.”

In an effort to discourage people from dumping the large items at Gosling Gardens, the city removed the garbage can from the park’s entrance. But people continued to dump their waste, putting it where the bin once was.

Cameron said the city hasn’t received an increase in calls regarding the amount of dumping; the amount seen in the parks has remained consistent over the past five years.

Francesco Leri, a resident living on the north end of Preservation Park, also has concerns with the amount of illegal dumping along the trails. He said while walking his dog, he came across large pieces of old carpet left at the foot of a small pond at in the conservation area.

He said acts like this frustrate him, and make his efforts to do something for the environment seem pointless.

“Why would I go and buy a fuel efficient car, and then in my backyard I have people that dump stuff that is toxic?” he said. “What’s the point?”

Leri, a psychology professor at the University of Guelph, said both the city and residents have to work together to prevent future dumping. He said it is important for people to feel like they are part of a greater community, to realize their individual actions have a ripple affect throughout the city.

Looking at it from a psychological angle, he said he often wonders about the thought process of someone who is able to dump garbage on the ground without concern.

“There must be some psychological issues,” he said. “Nobody will teach you to do that. In fact, they’ll teach you to do the opposite.

“There are too many people who just don’t have the sense to protect their own environment,” he said.

Orobono said the best way to put an end to the illegal dumping is to somehow catch them in the act.

“Rather than spend thousands of dollars on sending people out there to keep cleaning it, set something up and catch these guys,” he said.

He said as soon as someone is caught and made an example of, the dumping will stop.

City councillor Cam Guthrie said he likes the idea of publishing the identity of anyone caught dumping garbage. In a public shaming fashion, he suggested the convicted dumpers should be revealed in the local media.

“If it can be determined and proved that someone is doing that, then it should be public shaming.” he said.

Guthrie said this method of publicly naming the dumpers was inspired by a city in Florida where the rate of illegal dumping has decreased since it began revealing the identity of those caught.

He said he plans to bring up this suggestion with city officials in the near future.

Cameron said the amount of garbage found in public areas is seasonal, and directly relates to students coming and going from the city. He said there is particularly a lot of waste off Arkell Road, heading towards Milton.

He also identified students as a major abuser of the garbage bins in parks.

“If they have a party, and they need to clean up their house, where does the garbage go? In the park down the street,” he said, adding the bins are for the convenience of park patrons, not for the disposal of household items.

Cameron said in order to stop illegal dumping from taking place, residents need to keep watch and report to the city if they witness any wrongdoing.

“It’s imperative that the homeowners take some responsibility and certainly the community at large,” he said. “Report it. It’s sheer abuse.

“We have curbside collection here. There’s a means of disposing of large waste or debris, and yet you choose just to dump it in a park?” Cameron said. “It’s pretty disrespectful.”

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

April 21st, 2012: GUELPH — An effort to save the Guelph Public Library’s free internet service is picking up steam, appropriately enough, on the internet.

City Coun. Cam Guthrie sent an “ask” on Twitter Wednesday night seeking donors to help save the service. The free access is at risk of being cut after Industry Canada announced this week that it’s discontinuing its $6,800 annual grant.

Within 24 hours, Guthrie said, he had collected more than $2,400 in pledges.

“People have been retweeting it like crazy,” the councillor said. “I’m getting contacted by people I don’t even know saying they want to help out.”

The largest donation came from Concourse Media, a downtown-based internet publishing company which hosts a number of food and lifestyle websites and applications. The company pledged $2,000.

“We feel strongly as the owners of an internet-based business we should step up,” said Concourse CEO Ryan Thompson. “The internet has really changed our lives and the lives of those around us.”

Ryan May, Concourse president, saw Guthrie’s tweet first and knew it was something the company should support.

“It’s such a huge information tool and it just didn’t seem right that there wouldn’t be internet service at the library,” May said, adding he knows people who have used the free service for things such as job searches.

“I hope there are others out there who hear about this (fundraising) campaign and want to get behind it,” May added.

Last week Kitty Pope, Guelph Public Library’s chief executive, said approximately 300 people use the free internet service each day — more than 100,000 sessions annually.

On Friday Alan Pickersgill, chair of the library’s board and treasurer of Friends of Guelph Public Library, said it is nice to see stated support for the library “but of course no money has actually come in yet.

“It is encouraging,” Pickersgill said of the Twitter community’s support. “You never look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Pickersgill said when the federal funding is gone, the library board will have to discuss whether to reallocate funds to cover the cost of the internet service.

“There isn’t much slack in the budget,” he said.

Guthrie said while he launched the online campaign to save the service, it also shows there are options “to just going to the collective taxpayer when a need arises.

“When there is a need in the community I don’t think the knee-jerk reaction should always be to go to the taxpayer,” he said. “The community will step up.”

stracey@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Guelph council wants review of news article, environmental report to be made public

GUELPH — City councillors have asked their integrity commissioner to review a Guelph Mercury article about one of their own filing a freedom of information request with the province to get a report city staff refused to release.

Meanwhile, the report at the centre of the controversy will be a public document before the end of this week.

Councillors voted 10-2 to have new integrity commissioner Robert Swayze review the article and report back to council with his findings.

Coun. Cam Guthrie told the Mercury last Friday he had filed a freedom of information request with the provincial Ministry of the Environment to obtain a copy of an air inspection report related to the Waste Resource Innovation Centre.

Guthrie took the unusual step after city staff refused to release the document. He was supported in filing the request by four other councillors who split the cost of the $5 fee.

Kate Jordan, a spokesperson for the ministry, said Tuesday staff there has received the request “and will be responding to it shortly.”

However, Jordan also noted the report is scheduled to be discussed Thursday evening during a meeting of the city’s organic waste processing facility public liaison committee “and we want to discuss with the city the possibility of making the report public.

“Obviously some city staff do have the report … and there will be a discussion about making it available,” Jordan said.

Later in the day, city spokesperson Stacey Hare confirmed that will happen.

“I expect everything will end on Thursday and everyone — council, the public, the (liaison committee) — will have access to the report,” Hare said.

She explained the report was not provided earlier to councillors “because we had some concerns with the content in the report. We don’t feel it’s an accurate reflection of some of the things that happened during commissioning.”

City staff is currently working on an “accompanying report” outlining the city’s concerns with the ministry document.

Ken Spira, an outspoken opponent of the organics plant and a member of the liaison committee, said he also submitted a freedom of information request for the air quality report.

“I am not surprised at all that staff want to keep us all in the dark about what is really going on at the facility,” Spira wrote in an email of staff’s reluctance to release the report.

“Transparency is something that the city preaches but obviously does not practice,” Spira wrote.

On Monday night, councillors asked Swayze to review the Mercury article.

It’s not clear specifically what issues they want Swayze to examine.

“I thought it would be a good test case,” said Coun. June Hofland, who made the motion. “I did have a sense that perhaps our (council) code of conduct is not understood very well.”

Hofland said she wants Swayze to comment on the article “to see if we overstepped our code of conduct,” but denied she feels any particular councillor might have done so.

Coun. Bob Bell said he felt Hofland’s motion was tantamount to a complaint under the code of conduct and he didn’t feel there had been a violation, so he voted against it. Coun. Gloria Kovach was the only other councillor opposed to it.

“I had trouble following the logic,” Bell said when asked what the motivation behind Hofland’s motion might be.

Guthrie said he supported Hofland’s motion because there may be areas of the code of conduct or other governance rules that need to be amended.

“Having him look the article over and make a non-biased, objective overview is welcome,” Guthrie said.

Councillors on Monday also supported a special resolution confirming their confidence in CAO Ann Pappert “with respect to the matters raised” in the Mercury article, and approved a second resolution asking Pappert and Farbridge to arrange a “special session of council to discuss the changing culture of council and administration relations.”

Bell would welcome such a session.

“There seems to be some sort of issue where the information is not flowing to us freely,” the councillor said. “I would be happy with any opportunity to advocate for the free flow of information, so if that’s the opportunity for me to do that I’m in favour of it.”

stracey@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Why did councillors have to file request?

Re: Dear editor:Re: Staff denies access to report — April 21

This story indicates that five members of city council — Gloria Kovach, Cam Guthrie, Bob Bell, Jim Furfaro and Andy Van Hellmond — filed a Freedom of Information request alleging that they were denied access to a draft Ontario Ministry of Environment document.

This report, once finalized, will be provided to all members of council. So why the need to file such a request?

This is political grandstanding, a tactic employed with unfortunate regularity by both federal and provincial politicians. It is not surprising Canadians are becoming increasingly disillusioned with government, no matter what the level.

I would have expected better from our municipal representatives.

Oxanna Adams

Guelph

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Free internet essential at libraries

The public should have free access to the internet at the Guelph Public Library.

It’s too bad that the federal government has pulled funding that was providing that access. The move has attracted criticism of the Industry Canada move. But that feedback won’t lead to this funding coming back.

The city and the Guelph Public Library need to figure out how to continue to offer this service.

Some breathing room in this regard appears to have been purchased by Coun. Cam Guthrie and such locals as Concourse Media, which have helped a drive to privately raise funds to continue this resource. This is a terrific community response to this challenge. It’s also another statement about the value placed on this service.

Community financing may be the key to this program continuing. Perhaps financing it needs to become part of the professional duties of the Guelph Public Library’s officer tasked with doing capital fundraising for the proposed new downtown branch of the library.

If that route is regarded as unreliable, this program should become another core service of the library and be budgeted for as such.

With an estimated 300 people using the internet at the library branches a day, this has become another of its essential services. As such, it must be preserved.

When the federal government first extended funding for this access, connection to the internet was a more exotic thing. That’s no longer the case, but there are many people who still rely on facilities such as public libraries to access the web.

Many users are people who are otherwise without the means to access the internet, according to the library’s chief executive officer. Kitty Pope also said the library program is used daily by many people engaged in job search activities.

Free access to the web and to computers to use to connect to the web needs to continue at the library. It’s worth the return on this investment, even if Ottawa doesn’t take that point of view.

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Free internet essential at libraries

The public should have free access to the internet at the Guelph Public Library.

It’s too bad that the federal government has pulled funding that was providing that access. The move has attracted criticism of the Industry Canada move. But that feedback won’t lead to this funding coming back.

The city and the Guelph Public Library need to figure out how to continue to offer this service.

Some breathing room in this regard appears to have been purchased by Coun. Cam Guthrie and such locals as Concourse Media, which have helped a drive to privately raise funds to continue this resource. This is a terrific community response to this challenge. It’s also another statement about the value placed on this service.

Community financing may be the key to this program continuing. Perhaps financing it needs to become part of the professional duties of the Guelph Public Library’s officer tasked with doing capital fundraising for the proposed new downtown branch of the library.

If that route is regarded as unreliable, this program should become another core service of the library and be budgeted for as such.

With an estimated 300 people using the internet at the library branches a day, this has become another of its essential services. As such, it must be preserved.

When the federal government first extended funding for this access, connection to the internet was a more exotic thing. That’s no longer the case, but there are many people who still rely on facilities such as public libraries to access the web.

Many users are people who are otherwise without the means to access the internet, according to the library’s chief executive officer. Kitty Pope also said the library program is used daily by many people engaged in job search activities.

Free access to the web and to computers to use to connect to the web needs to continue at the library. It’s worth the return on this investment, even if Ottawa doesn’t take that point of view.

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Councillors lauded for freedom of information request

Dear editor:

Although I’m from British Columbia, I was drawn to the Mercury’s April 21 story “City of Guelph denies Guelph councillors access to environmental report.”

The story described how councillors Cam Guthrie, Gloria Kovach, Andy Van Hellemond, Jim Furfaro and Bob Bell used freedom of information legislation to seek access to an air quality report from the Ontario Ministry of Environment that city staff were unwilling to provide.

I applaud the decision of the five councillors to use freedom of information legislation. The City of Guelph is an assembly of the people, led by councillors elected by the citizens of Guelph. Had the councillors played an unnecessary waiting game, they risked betraying the trust the people invested in them.

Guelph residents might benefit by reminding chief administrative officer Ann Pappert that by providing a right — with limited exceptions — to access records, section 4 of Ontario’s Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act turns city staff into custodians of the city’s records, much like librarians are custodians of books in the library. For staff to refuse councillors — or anyone — access to reports held by the city is as shocking as librarians refusing to let people access certain books held in the public library.

The information commissioner of the United Kingdom produced a funny freedom of information training video for staff of municipal governments in the U.K. Although the Ontario freedom of information law is a little different from the U.K. law, their spirit is the same. It’s definitely worth the watch: www.bit.ly/Funny_FOI

Not only might Guelph residents applaud councillors Guthrie, Kovach, Van Hellemond, Furfaro and Bell for using their access rights, but you might encourage them to use freedom of information legislation more routinely.

Here in B.C., for example, the mayor and council of Port Moody used freedom of information laws to gather from the provincial and federal governments information about funding for a major public transportation project, something of great importance to Port Moody residents. And staff at the City of Burnaby used the federal Access to Information Act to acquire from Environment Canada information about a toxic spill in a local creek, an important issue for Burnaby residents.

Whether or not the most important issue Guelph residents want their councillors to address is air quality at the waste resource innovation centre on Dunlop Drive or something else, such as economic development, affordable housing, or public transportation, is a matter for Guelph’s voters to decide.

Mark Weiler

Burnaby, B.C.

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Council clears way for highrises

GUELPH — Picture a much more livable downtown, dotted with highrises and better access to the Speed River.

That’s what city councillors had in mind Monday night when they endorsed the Downtown Secondary Plan, a comprehensive Official Plan amendment, which sets the course for development of the core during the next two decades.

Mayor Karen Farbridge noted the document, more than two years in the making, is a marked departure from past downtown planning decisions.

“I’ve certainly felt the weight of this decision around the (council) horseshoe,” the mayor said. “The status quo is not going to bring us the downtown our city deserves.”

The majority of the 15 delegations who addressed council spoke in favour of the plan. Others offered tentative support for the overall goal of the document while expressing concern about particular issues, such as allowing buildings up to 18 storeys and eventually removing a plaza at Gordon and Wellington streets to create riverfront parkland.

“It’s not perfect, but we find it measured, respectful and grounded in reality,” Marty Williams, executive director of the Downtown Guelph Business Association, said of the plan.

Dan Leeming, an urban designer representing Fusion Homes, which will redevelop the former W.C. Woods site on Arthur Street, called the plan “an appropriate road map for Guelph to continue to grow and mature.”

Others weren’t so sure.

Local architect Unto Kihlanki said taller buildings generally lead to a decreased quality of life at the street level. He is concerned allowing 18-storey buildings at certain sites could open the door for such tall buildings at other sites, and that the city would not be able to defend challenges at the Ontario Municipal Board that arise if the city doesn’t allow them.

“We respectfully ask council to step back from the precipice,” Kihlanki said, adding the plan could always be amended to allow taller buildings in the future if appropriate.

Dave Sills, president of the Guelph Civic League, said his organization generally supports the principles of the plan.

But he does not feel 18-storey buildings are appropriate.

That will be tested next Monday when councillors consider a proposal from London developer Tricar to erect an 18-storey condominium tower at Macdonell and Woolwich streets. City staff has recommended approval.

Coun. Bob Bell noted the secondary plan allows “bonusing” in lower height categories, where developers can essentially buy additional storeys in exchange for public benefits such as affordable housing, better energy efficiency or public art.

But Bell noted there is no opportunity for bonusing — and therefore no opportunity for the city to realize those benefits — on the four sites approved for 18 storeys.

He proposed an amendment which would have lowered the maximum height on those four sites, but allow developers to receive additional storeys under the bonusing program.

Councillors voted 10-3 against Bell’s amendment proposal. They later voted 8-5 against a motion from Coun. Cam Guthrie which would have increased the commercial footprint in a park proposed at the corner of Gordon and Wellington streets. The secondary plan envisions setting aside money every year to buy that property — which currently houses a bustling strip mall — in 2022, but includes a term which could see a small complementary commercial development there.

The owners of two businesses near the corner pleaded with councillors not to endorse the park recommendation, which they fear will hurt their businesses and make the future uncertain.

stracey@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Guelph councillor Guthrie’s ‘not union’ comment rankles online

GUELPH — A city councillor caused a bit of an online flap this week with a blog comment some perceived to be anti-union.

But the heads of the two largest groups of unionized municipal workers dismissed the comments.

Coun. Cam Guthrie posted a comment on the 59 Carden St. municipal affairs blog about Costco’s proposal to locate in his west-end ward.

“Costco will bring between 200-250 job opportunities to Guelph,” Guthrie wrote. “They pay the highest wages of almost all “big box” stores and offer benefits to their employees. And they’re not union.

“This is what I would call a “win-win-win-win-win,” Guthrie wrote later in the comment.

Other commenters soon asked why the councillor had mentioned Costco is not unionized, with one suggesting, “Cam is trying to suggest that Guelph is a great place for setting up non-union shops” and another asking point-blank whether Guthrie is “anti-union.”

The councillor later posted a comment explaining he was simply trying to counter “common arguments” that big box stores only offer “underpaid, minimum wage, no benefits jobs and that the only way they can get benefits, better pay etc … is that they should all be unionized.”

In an email Friday, Guthrie wrote unions “have a role to work at all times in the best interest of their members.

“In my role, I need to strike a balance between some unions’ entitlement addictions, and what’s affordable & fair for our taxpayers,” he wrote, adding he is known to frequently ask “why” and unions should not be “immune to the same question.”

The heads of the city’s two largest employee unions shrugged off the councillor’s comments.

“Everyone’s entitled to their comments,” said Dave Peshnak, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 973, which represents approximately office staff. “That’s just one person’s view.”

Brad Kelloway, president of CUPE Local 241 representing approximately 350 outside workers, said with any slate of councillors there will always be some who are not fans of organized labour.

“I don’t know if it’s a big stir if there’s someone who supports unions or someone who doesn’t,” Kelloway said. “Unions were around long before any of these councillors and they’ll be around long after they’re gone.”

editor@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Guelph integrity commissioner to meet with mayor and civic staffers this week

May 10th, 2012 GUELPH — The city’s integrity commissioner was to meet this week with municipal staff and the mayor as he continues to investigate a Guelph Mercury article outlining frustration felt by some members of council.

“Obviously I’m going to respond,” Robert Swayze, a Caledon lawyer, said in an interview. “I've been asked to look into it by council so I’m going to do that.”

During their regular meeting in April, councillors voted 10-2 to ask Swayze to review the article and report his findings back to council.

The article in question focused on Coun. Cam Guthrie -- with the support of four other councillors -- filing a freedom of information request with the provincial Environment Ministry in an attempt to get a copy of a ministry report that city staff had refused to release to councillors.

It also touched on Coun. Gloria Kovach’s frustration over her inability to find out the cost of holding off-site council meetings.

City staff explained they disagreed with some elements of the ministry report into air quality issues surrounding the new organics processing plant, and did not want to release it until they had drafted an accompanying report outlining the city's concerns with the ministry report.

Both documents became public five days after the Mercury article -- and three days after the council vote -- during a meeting of the organics processing facility’s public liaison committee.

Coun. June Hofland, who made the motion asking Swayze to investigate the matter, said at the time it would be “a good test case” of council’s new code of conduct, though she stressed she did not believe any of her colleagues had violated the code.

Swayze said this week he has been on vacation, but had several appointments scheduled with municipal staffers this week. He noted Mayor Karen Farbridge had also requested to meet with him to discuss the matter.

Swayze said his report will be a public document once it is complete, though he did not know whether it will be addressed by a council committee or by council as a whole.

Those details are still to be discussed with city clerk Blair Labelle, Swayze said.

He could not comment on when his report will be complete.

stracey@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Slate of 10 city services about to come under closer scrutiny

GUELPH — Ten services are about to come under the microscope, as the city begins the task of determining what services it should be offering and how it should be offering them.

Over the next several months, a staff-led service and operational review team (SORT) will conduct field work before reporting to council in the fall.

About a year ago, councillors began the exercise of determining which services should be subjected to closer scrutiny. From an initial list of 75 — which represents about one-quarter of the city’s services — council selected 10 services for a closer look.

This could take the form of a service review — which considers whether the city should be offering a particular service — or an operational review, which accepts the city will provide the service but seeks more efficient ways to do so.

The six areas selected for service reviews are ServiceGuelph, special events coordination, legal representation, boulevard maintenance, seasonal recreation facilities and corporate communications.

Meanwhile, operational reviews will be performed in the areas of business information systems, traffic flow management, procurement processes and property standards bylaw.

Coun. Cam Guthrie first suggested shortly after being elected in 2010 such reviews should be conducted, and raised the issue again during budget deliberations in February of last year.

“It’s a long time coming, not just for the last 15 months but it should have happened long ago,” Guthrie said of a comprehensive review of all city services. “I definitely wish we had been attacking it a bit sooner but it is a positive thing going forward.”

However Michael Psotka, director of the service review project, said in a news release such reviews “are not new to the City of Guelph and are an ongoing part of the city’s fiscal sustainability and continuous improvement of the delivery of services to the public and business community.”

The city’s plan is to examine each of the approximately 300 municipal services during the next four years, though most will not be subjected to the in-depth reviews contemplated for this initial group of 10.

“I’m really hoping the outcomes can be always to the positive, either by identifying services outside providers should be offering instead or by finding more efficient ways for the city to offer them,” Guthrie said.

Reports on the ongoing reviews will be presented to city council in the fall.

stracey@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

GUELPH — For weeks late last summer, several streets on Guelph’s east side were lit up like a baseball stadium at night. Every porch light, every backyard light, every garden spotlight burning brightly throughout the night.

“We were scared for quite a while. Everyone on the street kept their lights on at night,” remembers Cecilia Smith.

In late July, over the course of six days, a suspected arsonist or arsonists set three fires within a small radius on Grange Road, just east of Victoria Road.

In total the fires caused $750,000 to five homes and a trailer. To date no one has been arrested.

  July 20: At around 3 a.m. fire destroyed a camping trailer and damaged vinyl siding on two homes at 309 and 311 Grange Rd., causing $21,000 damage.

  July 23: At around 4 a.m. neighbours backing on to 309 Grange Rd. notice fire spreading up the outside of a detached two-storey house, then quickly spread up the side of the home before jumping to the adjacent house, where it caused extensive damage. A woman and three children were home at the time the fire broke out but got out safely. Damage was tagged at $700,000.

  July 26: In the most brazen incident, mopheads and cleaning supplies inside a Trailbrook Lane garage were set on fire around 4 p.m. Damage was estimated at $25,000.

“I just heard the doorbell going a hundred miles an hour and the two ladies yelling, ‘your home is on fire! Your home is on fire!’” homeowner Sev Franchetto said last July.

“It was a scary time,” remembers Smith, whose Trailbrook Lane home backed on to the Grange Road home where the most serious fire took place. “Everybody made sure their doors were locked at night.

Police increased patrols. There was talk of a special task force. Ward 4 councillor Cam Guthrie Tweeted a $500 reward was available for information leading to the arrest of the culprit or culprits.

“That investigation remains open and we follow up with any leads as we get them,” said Guelph Police Staff Sgt. Patt Milligan.

“We encourage people to call us if they have information, but as of yet we haven’t been able to identify who was responsible in any of those fires.”

Milligan said timing and geographical location tied the fires together.

“That leads us to believe there is that possibility,” Milligan said when asked if the fires were related, “but we don’t have any other information that ties them together at this point.”

It was more by luck than by design that nobody was injured in the fires. Particularly the early morning blaze on Grange that was only spotted because a neighbour was coming home late from a social event.

“That one was the most serious of the three. That one causes us a lot of concern,” Milligan said.

Neighbours were confused and scared.

“You just don’t expect that type of thing in Guelph,” said a young woman walking with her two children in the area on the weekend who asked that her name not be used.

“I remember it was all everyone was talking about. People were scared.”

These days Smith says things have returned to normal on Trailbrook Lane. The lights go off at a decent hour and rarely are the fires discussed.

“We’re just glad they ended,” she says. “It was a scary time.”

Anyone with any information regarding the fires is asked to call Guelph Police at 824-1212 or contact Crime Stoppers.

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Rift between some councillors and Guelph city staffers, report suggests

GUELPH — The first report of the City of Guelph’s new integrity commissioner suggests Guelph city council and senior municipal staffers need to play nice with each other.

The need for the two sides to get along better is a recurring theme in Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze’s look into issues created by an April 20 Guelph Mercury article.

That article centred around Coun. Cam Guthrie, who, with the support of four other councillors, made a Freedom of Information request to obtain a copy of a provincial government report on the city’s composting plant that municipal staff had but declined to release to them.

The newspaper article also touched on concerns Coun. Gloria Kovach had with civic staff regarding her frustrations about obtaining information about an unrelated manner.

Swayze’s report suggested that a series of “team building meetings” could be set up with a private professional facilitator to try and help improve the relationship between senior staff and council.

“We don’t need to spend more of the taxpayers’ money on some kind of rah-rah team-building exercises,” said Guthrie, when asked to comment on the report.

“I don’t need a report or a commissioner to tell me I need to make amends with a staff member. My conscience will tell me before that that I need to do that,” the Ward 4 councillor said.

Guthrie said the real problem lies with city policy that prevented an important report from being released to council that he said was already available to the public through the Ministry of the Environment.

Policy, not staff, is the problem, Guthrie said.

Kovach couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. But Coun. Bob Bell, who along with Kovach opposed the decision to have the integrity commissioner review the issue, said he never did see the matter as something in need of the commissioner’s involvement.

“It’s an odd name, ‘integrity,’” said Bell, who declined to expand on his comment.

“I’d better not say too much,” Bell concluded.

Guthrie said that he too would like to say more about the whole ordeal, but he’s “afraid to say things now aloud” now that there’s the “threat of an integrity commissioner over my head.”

One of his options to have the matter aired more thoroughly, he said, is to ask for a full investigation by the same commissioner. But he’s afraid that would waste time and money.

The integrity commissioner is paid yearly retainer and $235 per hour for his work.

Swayze’s report, which goes to council Monday night, points out that he did not do a full investigation into the complaint.

“It seems clear that the relationship between staff and these councilors is not what it should be,” states the report.

In defence of staff, the report said it’s important for councilors to understand that staff “cannot drop what they are doing instantly and devote their time to the councilor.”

However, the report also suggests staff might have been able to release the document sought in this instance to council sooner than it did.

It also said Guthrie should have pursued more “internal remedies” at city hall open to councillors to obtain this report before filing a freedom of information request.

It asserts that if council calls for a full investigation, some councillors are likely to be found to have violated council’s code of conduct. But he urges a different course of action.

“I do not want to recommend sanctions against councillors at this time,” Swayze states in the report. “I feel it is in the best interests of all concerned to move on.”

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Lesson learned? Guelph city councillors reluctantly agree to accept integrity report

GUELPH — City councillors agreed Monday night essentially to just get along.

Eventually.

Councillors voted eight to four to accept a report from integrity commissioner Robert Swayze, who had been asked to review a Guelph Mercury article to determine whether councillors quoted in it had violated council’s Code of Conduct.

Swayze told council he determined some councillors violated the code by complaining about staff to the press and by revealing the contents of a confidential email from staff.

“That’s clearly contrary to the Code of Conduct,” Swayze said.

The review involved an April 20 Mercury article about Coun. Cam Guthrie and four other councillors each chipping in $1 to file a Freedom of Information request with the provincial environment ministry in an attempt to get a copy of a report city staff had refused to release.

The same article included comments from Coun. Gloria Kovach expressing frustration about trying to get information from staff about other issues.

Swayze said he believed the Code of Conduct violations were unintentional and would likely not happen again, and suggested no further action be taken.

“I’m suggesting we all move on,” Swayze said.

But before moving on, a few councillors took exception to Swayze’s methodology. He conceded he only conducted in-depth interviews with CAO Ann Pappert and Mayor Karen Farbridge, and also met briefly with Kovach after she expressed concern about responding to his questions by email.

Swayze said at no time during his review did he come to understand the urgency of those councillors who wanted to get a copy of the provincial report.

Kovach suggested he did not understand it “because we weren’t given the opportunity to provide that information to you.”

Kovach noted when she met with Swayze she had prepared extensive comments and is “perplexed” he would not take them and rather limited her to three specific questions.

The integrity commissioner conceded he conducted full interviews with the CAO and mayor “but I had to draw the line somewhere.”

Noting Swayze did not learn who first contacted the Mercury, Coun. Lise Burcher asked whether there should be an “absolute obligation” for that person to come clean.

“I think they should disclose, but I don’t know how I can force that,” Swayze replied.

Burcher’s question raised some concern on its own.

Kovach alleged her colleague had made “false allegations” by suggesting without proof a member of council had approached the Mercury, but Burcher countered she had made no such allegation but rather simply a blanket statement whoever had done so should admit it.

Kovach said she would not vote even to receive Swayze’s report, which she called “slanted” and said contained inaccurate information.

Noting the Ministry of Environment report became a public document days after the Mercury article, Guthrie suggested controversy “seems to be the only thing that gets things done.”

Coun. Jim Furfaro — who was one of the five who chipped in on the FOI request — said the whole controversy could have been avoided if staff had sat down with councillors to discuss the Ministry report in the first place instead of refusing to release it.

“I’m not sure as a corporation we displayed those ideals of transparency and accountability in their truest form,” Furfaro said.

Farbridge noted a series of planned workshops will help council and staff examine the flow of information and learn from the experience.

stracey@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Guelph skateboarders to get free indoor ride again this summer

GUELPH — For the third consecutive year, local skateboarders will get a free ride this summer.

City councillors voted Monday night to spend up to $10,000 to rent The Ward Skatepark for July and August. It will be the third straight summer the city has rented the facility at York and Victoria roads to provide a temporary place for skaters to ride.

The city first rented the indoor park in 2010, after removing the outdoor skatepark from Deerpath Park amid complaints from neighbours about noise, vandalism and other issues.

The city is in the early planning stages for a new municipal skate park at Silvercreek Park, but it is not expected for a few more years.

Coun. Ian Findlay made a special resolution directing community and social services staff to identify and reallocate monies in the 2012 budget to rent the facility. He noted renting the skate park was included as a line item in the 2012 budget but did not get approved.

“What’s not going to get money so this gets money?” Coun. Cam Guthrie asked.

Colleen Bell, the city’s executive director of community and social services, said the city will use a council contingency fund established to cover unforeseen expenses.

Council heard that fund — which was similarly used to rent The Ward last summer — has a balance of approximately $14,000.

Bell said the owners of the skate park will not be surprised by council’s motion.

“We’ve been in discussion with them for several months,” she told councillors, who voted 12-0 in favour of Findlay’s motion.

stracey@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Jury of One: Value of integrity commissioner report unclear

There is good value for your money, and then there is the value the city appears to have received from its new integrity commissioner.

Back in April, councillors voted to have Robert Swayze, a Caledon lawyer, review an article I wrote outlining concerns two councillors had about obtaining information from city staff.

The article included specific complaints, and also referred to a freedom of information request filed by Coun. Cam Guthrie — with the moral and financial support of four colleagues — in an attempt to get a provincial report city staff was refusing to release.

I didn’t quite understand the rationale for council’s request five weeks ago, and when I asked Coun. June Hofland — who made the motion — to explain it to me, it was clear she didn’t really know what council had asked Swayze to do.

Hofland was clear at the time, however, she did not believe any of her council colleagues had violated their Code of Conduct.

However, in the introduction to his resulting report, Swayze wrote he “interpreted the referral as requiring my comment on the (news) report in the context of the Code of Conduct … and not as a direction to conduct a full investigation.”

This is just as well, because Swayze certainly did not conduct a full investigation.

At Monday’s council meeting, he said he met with chief administrative officer Ann Pappert for about 90 minutes, and spent about half that time speaking with Mayor Karen Farbridge.

He emailed the five councillors who chipped in on the freedom of information request — Guthrie, Bob Bell, Jim Furfaro, Gloria Kovach and Andy Van Hellemond — and asked them three questions: To confirm their participation in the application, the identity of who leaked it to me and why they participated in it.

In his report, Swayze said he would not repeat the position of the mayor or chief administrative officer “because I have not offered a full interview to the other councillors and given them the opportunity to respond.”

With all due respect, that’s weak.

Swayze has no trouble slapping the wrists of Guthrie and Kovach — the two councillors quoted in my story — for making negative comments about staff and, in Guthrie’s case, revealing information from a confidential email from staff.

If the integrity commissioner intended to include in a public report such findings, he should at least have interviewed those two councillors. Indeed, Kovach revealed during the council meeting she requested a meeting with Swayze and attended said meeting armed with a full statement on the matter, which Swayze refused to accept from her.

The commissioner explained he interviewed the chief administrative officer and mayor as the heads of staff and council “but I had to draw the line somewhere.”

I suggest he drew it in the wrong place.

Either way, when all the dust settles, Swayze will have produced a document that basically says not everyone at City Hall gets along, that they should try harder to get along and that they should not air their dirty laundry in public.

We’ll find out in late June or early July, when Swayze submits his quarterly invoice, whether it was worth the cost.

Scott Tracey is a Mercury staff writer. His Jury of One column appears Fridays. He can be reached at stracey@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Integrity report openly flawed

It’s surprising that a majority of Guelph city council voted to accept a report offered by the municipality’s integrity commissioner this week.

Granted, the commissioner’s direction from council that led to the document being generated was somewhat ambiguous. But it’s incredible that a majority of council found enough value in this report — and felt satisfied with the methodology that it was built on — to vote to accept it.

This report was interesting reading. But its author was open about what it lacked in the research that went into it. This was largely an interview-based probe. It suggests that at least two councillors — Cam Guthrie and Gloria Kovach — engaged in activities that likely violated council’s code of conduct. But neither Guthrie nor Kovach were interviewed in person for this review.

The commissioner’s report is based on an incredibly incomplete probe related to an April 20 Guelph Mercury story. The article explored the frustrations of some Guelph councillors over their inability to receive information from Guelph civic staff in a timely enough manner, or at all. The commissioner conducted a 90-minute or so interview with Guelph’s chief administrative officer, Ann Pappert, who is quoted in the story. But the only member of council he interviewed was Mayor Karen Farbridge, who was not referenced in the story. She was interviewed because she is the “head of council,” according to the report.

Kovach has revealed that she requested and prepared for an interview in connection with this review but wasn’t permitted a full session. She said even her attempt to offer a written submission to be considered in connection with the process was declined.

And yet, the report asserts unequivocally that the commissioner lacked context to understand the reasons councillors who were the focus of the article acted as they did over efforts to obtain an environmental report from civic staff. It does share assumptions the commissioner made, in lieu of having this seemingly available additional context. But shouldn’t these assumptions and much of the report’s findings be regarded as being of questionable value?

The commissioner suggested he could do a full investigation of this case. But the councillors disappointed at his work on the file can be forgiven for not wanting to invest more over such an effort.

As for the councillors who voted to suggest they endorse the report, is this really input they consider of value and worth the investment of time and money required to produce it?

Guelph Mercury Editors

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Even Guelph’s roads will be slimming down this summer

GUELPH — With the first day of summer less than three weeks away, many people are trying to shed their winter weight.

In Guelph, even the roads are on diets.

Portions of Silvercreek Parkway, Fife Road and Elmira Road will soon be feeling the squeeze; seeing their current configuration changed to incorporate bicycle lanes and common left-turn lanes in a method known as “road diets.”

Silvercreek between Willow Road and Speedvale Avenue and Elmira between Speedvale and Woodlawn Road will each see the number of through lanes reduced from two in each direction to one.

The through lanes will be divided by a shared left-turn lane, and bicycle lanes will be added in each direction as well.

On Fife — between Whitelaw and Elmira roads — there will be one driving lane and one bicycle lane in each direction, and a parking lane on the south side.

Joanne Starr, the city’s supervisor of traffic investigations, explained the engineering department resurfaces a number of roads annually, and in so doing looks for ways to make them more efficient.

Where feasible, bicycle lanes are implemented in accordance with the 2009 Bicycle Policy.

Starr said while installing bicycle lanes is “an added benefit” of the road remarking, it is not the primary reason.

She explained road diets are considered appropriate for roads with daily traffic counts of 20,000 or less, which describes these three roads.

While removing a through lane might seem likely to slow the flow of traffic, Starr said adding the shared left-turn lane has the opposite effect.

“It will increase the flow of traffic by having that dedicated lane,” she said, noting on Silvercreek the left lane is often blocked by cars turning “so that affects the capacity anyway.”

The turning lane also offers motorists entering Silvercreek “a refuge” because they will not have to turn directly into driving lanes.

Coun. Cam Guthrie noted that section of Silvercreek Parkway is routinely featured on the Guelph Police Service’s list of most collision-prone intersections.

“As an insurance broker I think anything that can reduce those is a good thing,” he said.

Guthrie noted two of the affected roads are in his west-end ward. He has been speaking to officials from companies in the industrial area along Elmira Road, who will applaud the move.

“When they’re switching their shifts, it can be very difficult to get in and out from Elmira Road,” Guthrie said. “There have been quite a few accidents and close calls.”

Starr said the asphalt replacement and remarking will be completed this summer.

stracey@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

Conservation Review Board hearing appeal on Wilson farmhouse heritage designation

GUELPH — The battle over an old farmhouse in the city’s north end became somewhat more official Monday, with the start of a hearing to determine whether a heritage designation for the Wilson farmhouse should be overturned.

Mike Lackowicz, a resident who lives across the street from the house on Simmonds Drive, filed an appeal of the designation with the province’s Conservation Review Board.

At the beginning of the hearing at city hall on Monday, Lackowicz alleged the city’s rationale for making the designation was “weak and flawed” and suggested there have been major changes to the original farmhouse over the years which make it not worthy of the designation.

Stephen Robinson, a senior heritage planner with the city, said the house and two black walnut trees on the property are the only remaining elements of the farm established by the pioneering Wilson family.

Robinson said the home is a “representative sample” of a style known as vernacular Ontario gothic, and also a good example of late-19th century farmhouse architecture.

He testified the farmhouse has “historical or associative value” given its connection to the Wilson family and that is remains in its original spot. Robinson told the board members the home, which once had a Victoria Road address, would provide people with a good understanding of the size of farms of the day.

The city is arguing most of the exterior of the building — including the roof, walls, wood elements and door and window openings — should be retained. Robinson said the covered porch, while not original, should also be designated as it demonstrates the orientation of the front door and that a porch was part of the home’s design.

Opponents argue the house has fallen into disrepair since the city acquired it as part of the approval process for the surrounding subdivision in 2006 and that the city has neglected it by leaving it empty and unused for six years.

Robinson conceded the home shows signs resulting from neglect, but said the condition “does not impact the built heritage elements in a way that diminishes their cultural heritage value.”

Under cross-examination, the planner conceded that contextually the house does not fit with the surrounding neighbourhood.

“It doesn’t relate to (Victoria) road any more,” Robinson said. “It doesn’t relate to the subdivision.”

Rob Reynen, the city’s manager of inspection services, said he has inspected the house four times, including twice this year.

“I believe it is generally sound from a structural standpoint,” Reynen testified. “I believe structurally it’s in good shape still.”

Reynen told the board the home needs some “cosmetic” work and the foundation needs repair “but it’s not in terrible, terrible shape.”

Derrick Higdon, a neighbourhood resident and stonemason with more than 25 years’ experience, said he has witnessed deterioration in the condition of the house since moving into the neighbourhood three years ago.

“There seems to be quite a bit of foundation movement” resulting in cracks to exterior walls, said Higdon, who was Lackowicz’s first witness.

He told the board that repairing the foundation is likely not feasible given the level of deterioration. He noted his investigation suggests the basement joists are “punky” and there is evidence of mould in the walls of the home.

Outside the hearing, Lackowicz said he filed the appeal in an effort to cut off a proposal by city staff to sever the house property and sell it. Councillors voted last summer to revisit the “sever and sell” idea, but refused by a 7-6 margin to also revisit pursuing the heritage designation.

Lackowicz is concerned council could still opt to sell the house, arguing that will be less likely if the heritage designation is overturned.

The Conservation Review Board’s decision is not, however, binding on council.

The hearing was expected to continue Tuesday morning.

stracey@guelphmercury.com

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

June 4th, 2012

 

Since Friday I've been getting many many emails from people concerned about the upcoming council meeting regarding OPA 48 and how it relates to the river systems. Almost 99% of the letters recieved have been "canned" letters, meaning they're all exaclty the same just being sent off to city staff and councillors to make a splash about this issue. And it's worked.

So, we received this email from staff to inform the public a bit more about this issue and of course I welcome all the input from these letter writers and anyone else that wants to comment on this at the council meeting Tuesday night. Here's the info:

Hello Mayor Farbridge and Councillors,

Please find attached an Issues Note relating to River Systems concerns that have recently arisen in the community.  Staff felt it was important to provide you with this information to assist in communicating on this issue.

Also, due to certain circumstances, the staff presentation was not finished in time to be included in your Council agenda package as per normal procedure and we apologize for this.  The presentation is now complete and we felt it was important to provide it to you and make it available to the public before the weekend.  The presentation is attached below, and can also be accessed on the City’s website at the following link:

http://guelph.ca/uploads/Council_and_Committees/Council/OPA%2048%20Presentation.pdf

Given the complexity and scope of the subject matter, the presentation will be approximately a half hour in length and will be presented by me, and Melissa Aldunate, Senior Policy Planner.

STAFF

 

Here are some further details along with some Questions & Answers:ITLE

OPA 48 – Official Plan Update Phase 3 – River Systems Issues
DATE: June 1, 2012
ISSUE
Some residents, the River Systems Advisory Committee and a new citizen group called Living Rivers and Greenways Action Group are concerned that a proposed update to Guelph’s official plan (OPA 48) does not maintain the vision and objectives for rivers and tributaries and their valley corridors contained in the 1993 River Systems Management Plan.
A request has been made to defer approval of OPA 48 to allow for further public consultation.    
BACKGROUND
Since 2007 the City has been conducting a 5-Year Official Plan update.  The update was originally to be carried out in two Phases, but Council later split it out into three Phases.
Phase 1
Phase 1, OPA 39, established a growth management framework and brought the Official Plan into conformity with the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, building on the City’s earlier growth management strategy and Smart Guelph initiatives.  OPA 39 was adopted by Council in 2009 and is in full force and effect.
Phase 2
Phase 2, OPA 42, was initially the remainder of the Official Plan Update. OPA 42 was driven by the 2005 Provincial Policy Statement, the Planning Act, the Ontario Heritage Act and the Clean Water Act, as well as the City’s Urban Design Action Plan, Community Energy Plan, Trails Master Plan, Recreation, Parks and Culture Strategic Plan, Employment Lands Strategy and other infrastructure studies and master plans.
The first draft of OPA 42 was released in early 2010 and the City conducted extensive community and stakeholder consultation. This draft contained proposed policy revisions related to the above-noted drivers including the natural heritage and open space, recreation and trail policies.
In May 2010, in response to community input and recognizing the critical importance of proceeding with the natural heritage policies, including river protection policies, while allowing more time for public consultation on the remainder of the Update, Council directed staff to proceed with finalizing the Natural Heritage System policies immediately and consult further on the remainder.
As a result, OPA 42 was split into two parts; the Natural Heritage System policies were carried forward as OPA 42 and adopted by Council in July 2012 and the remaining policies became Phase 3, eventually numbered OPA 48, the final phase of Guelph’s Official Plan update.
Phase 3
In late 2010 and through 2011 the City analysed all public and stakeholder feedback on the first draft of OPA 42 and focused on issues represented in Phase 3, OPA 48. The City met with stakeholders and individuals to discuss their comments and explore solutions to their concerns.  
Proposed policies were revised based on these discussions, and were included in a second draft of the OP Update that excluded natural heritage policies addressed in Phase 2 (OPA 42).
The draft was released for further public review on January 30, 2012. The City promoted and hosted two formal open houses and a Public Meeting to present information and seek community input, and held further meetings with interested stakeholders and individuals.  
The final draft of OPA 48 considers this input from the community and will be considered by Council on June 5, 2012.
River Systems Concerns
Members of the River Systems Advisory Committee and a new citizen group called Living Rivers and Greenways Action Group are concerned that OPA 48 does not offer enough protection for Guelph’s rivers, tributaries and related natural spaces.
Their specific concerns are that the proposed policies:
•    do not provide explicit policies for the “protection, maintenance, and, where possible, rehabilitation of all rivers, streams and creeks as environmental corridors”
•    fail to maintain the notion of a Linked Open Space Concept as set out in the 2006 OP and the policies and principles that rely on this notion
•    do not maintain a mandatory 30 metre development setback from the river’s edge and the use of the setback as a vegetated corridor
Concern has also been expressed about a perceived lack of public consultation and clear communications regarding the intent and effect of the proposed policy changes.
City staff feels that OPA 48 complements and supports the excellent protection, preservation and enhancement for rivers, tributaries and natural systems established through OPA 42. OPA 48 addresses how the City will treat parks, trails and active open spaces that abut the City’s Natural Heritage System including the rivers.
Refined Open Space, Trails and Parks policies presented in OPA 48 explicitly capture the notion of parks and open space being supportive of, complementary to and interconnected with the Natural Heritage System (NHS). The notion of appropriate naturalization of open space and parks adjacent to the Natural Heritage System has also been reinforced.
Todd Salter, General Manager, Planning Services
T 519-822-1260 x 2395
E todd.salter@guelph.ca
Melissa Aldunate, Senior Policy Planner
T 519-822-1260 x 2099
E melissa.aldunate@guelph.ca

KEY MESSAGES
Guelph values its rivers and green spaces, and is committed to protecting, preserving and enhancing our natural assets and ecological systems as the city continues to grow.
Guelph’s Official Plan will direct growth and development over the next 20 years and is designed to have a positive effect on Guelph’s social, economic, cultural and natural environment. The plan has been updated in three phases over the past 5 years (OPA 39, 42 and 48).
The policies presented in the third and final phase of the Official Plan update, (OPA 48) complement and support the protection, preservation and enhancement of the comprehensive Natural Heritage System established through OPA 42, including Guelph’s river systems and tributaries.
This update in no way threatens the health of Guelph’s river systems. If OPA 48 is adopted, parks, trails and active open spaces must continue to support and complement nearby rivers, tributaries and other naturalized areas that are part of Guelph’s Natural Heritage System.
In each phase of its Official Plan update, the City invited and responded to written submissions, promoted and hosted several open houses and meetings, and considered all comments and feedback from the community. The City continues to welcome community participation, comments and feedback on its Official Plan and other municipal policies.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS                                                                                         

About the Official Plan Update
What is the Official Plan Update?
Guelph’s Official Plan Update – Envision Guelph provides direction for the city’s growth and development over the next 20 years. Envision Guelph focuses on sustainability and sets out policies designed to have a positive effect on Guelph’s social, economic, cultural and natural environment.
Why is it being updated?
The City updates its Official Plan every five years to comply with Provincial legislation and plans, and implement new municipal policies, plans and strategies.
What’s the status of each phase of the Official Plan update?
Phase 1 - Official Plan Amendment 39 (OPA 39) brought the City's Official Plan into conformity with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. OPA 39 was adopted by City Council in June 2009 and is in full force and effect.
Phase 2 - Official Plan Amendment 42 (OPA 42) introduced policies for Guelph’s Natural Heritage System and establishes a sustainable greenspace network throughout the city. OPA 42 was adopted by Council in July 2010 is under appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board.
Phase 3 – Official Plan Amendment 48 (OPA 48) will be considered by City Council for approval on June 5, 2012
About OPA 48
What kinds of policies are proposed under OPA 48?

OPA 48 includes new and updated policies addressing the following areas:
•    strategic directions and vision to guide growth to the year 2031;
•    detailed policies to achieve of the city’s growth management framework;
•    watershed planning and water resources;
•    public health and safety including natural and human-made hazards;
•    mineral aggregate resources;
•    climate change and the City’s Community Energy Initiaitve;
•    cultural heritage resources;
•    transportation providing greater focus on transit, walking and cycling;
•    municipal services and infrastructure;
•    affordable housing;
•    parks and trails;
•    urban design consistent with the Urban Design Action Plan;
•    land use designations; and
•    new implementation tools such as height and density bonusing,

What are some of the biggest policy changes included in OPA 48?
OPA 48 includes substantial policy changes which:
    ensure high quality urban design and place-making
    create new neighbourhoods that contain a mix of uses and are walkable and transit supportive
    promote economic vitality and innovation
    support social well-being, including planning for a diversity of housing types, affordability and tenure
    protect what valuable and manage change to ensure compatibility
    incorporate the Community Energy Initiaitve aspirations, targets and strategies

Why were policies included in OPA 48 updated from the versions presented to the community in 2010?
After City Council approved OPA 42 in July 2010, the City reviewed and analyzed all public and stakeholder feedback to focus on policies that would be included in OPA 48.
The City met with stakeholders and individuals to discuss their comments and concerns regarding the 2010 draft policies, and refined the proposed policies before presenting them to the community for review in January 2012.
OPA 48 includes updated proposed policies for all planning matters except those Natural Heritage System policies already approved by City Council in OPA 42.
Did the City explain the differences between the draft OP Update policies released in 2010 and the revised OP Update polices released in January 2012?
Yes. The staff report and related material that accompanied the release of the revised draft OP Update in January 2012 comprehensively summarized and analyzed all comments received and identified specific revisions that were incorporated into the revised draft to respond to the submissions.
River Systems Policies in the Official Plan
Does OPA 48 maintain the vision of the city’s 1993 River Systems Management Plan?  
Yes. The policies of OPA 48, working in conjunction with the policies of OPA 42, carry forward the elements of the River Systems Management Plan, while reflecting the evolution in approaches to natural heritage systems planning since the mid-1990’s.  Land uses abutting the Natural Heritage System (including the river systems) are planned to support and complement the NHS and must be planned to ensure the NHS is protected, maintained and, as feasible, enhanced and restored.
Does OPA 48 provide explicit policies for the “protection, maintenance, and, where possible, rehabilitation of all rivers, streams and creeks as environmental corridors”?
Those explicit policies polices were already approved by Council in July 2010 as part of OPA 42 and, as such, are not appropriate to include in OPA 48.
What is the status of OPA 42?
OPA 42 was approved by Council in July 2010 and has been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.  A hearing on OPA 42 is not expected to commence until some time in 2013.
Does OPA 48 maintain a mandatory 30 metre development setback from the river’s edge and the use of the setback as a vegetated corridor?
No, because minimum setbacks and buffers for components of the NHS, including river systems, were established through OPA 42.  
Does OPA 48 maintain the City’s plans for linked open spaces?
Yes. Open Space, Trails and Parks policies contained in OPA 48 maintain the principles of Guelph’s 2006 Official Plan with respect to the “Linked Open Space Concept” as it pertains to parklands and trails (i.e. non-NHS lands), and are consistent with the 2009 Recreation, Parks and Culture Strategic Master Plan and its vision for a greenways system.
Community Consultation
How did the City gather feedback from the community when updating the Official Plan?
In each phase of its Official Plan update, the City invited and responded to written submissions, promoted and hosted open houses and meetings, and considered all comments and feedback from the community.
Specifically for OPA 48 the City used traditional and social media to promote open houses in February and in March. Staff also met with stakeholders before and after the Public Meeting on April 2.
Was Guelph’s River Systems Advisory Committee given an opportunity to review policies included in OPA 48?
RSAC had the opportunity to review the first draft of the OP Update that was released in early 2010 and did provide comments to the City.  The comments related to the natural heritage policies and were considered through the finalization and adoption of OPA 42.
RSAC was notified of the release of the revised OP Update in January 2012 and invited to review the material and submit comments.
How can residents learn more about the Official Plan Update?
All documents relating to the three Phases of the Official Plan Update are available at guelph.ca/envisionguelph. City planning staff can be reached at City Hall 519-822-1260 or email planning@guelph.ca.
Reviewed by
Todd Salter, General Manager, Planning Services

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Monday Jun 4th - 2012

We are writing to you as concerned citizens of the City of Guelph and as concerned residents of the Northern Heights subdivision. A little over a year ago we moved to the Northern Heights area in what we can only describe as our dream home; the home in which we planned to start and raise a family. This home is across from the Wilson Farmhouse on 80 Simmonds Drive – a building we assumed would be torn down based on its location and condition. We were excited to learn that a park would be constructed across from our home and that our future children would be able to play so close to home. You can imagine our surprise, when, within a month of moving in, we were asked to read some literature regarding the dilapidated structure across the street and sign a petition. A fight that we didn’t even know existed, soon became dear to our hearts.

In the months following, we have attended several meetings, commented on several postings on line and have even added our names to the petition that saw 100 residents from the area be in favour of demolishing the farmhouse and erecting a ruins site with a plaque instead. We’re not sure why Councillor Ian Findlay keeps trying to save this structure when the community has already spoken – tear it down.

In the past year, through summer storms and gusty fall and winter winds, we have found many shingles from the farmhouse on our road and on our property, either blown up against our garage, our cars, or our lawn. We have concerns regarding the deterioration of the farmhouse’s roof because we do not want to see damage come to our property, house or car, due to the neglected property on 80 Simmonds Drive.

It seems the City wants to designate this farmhouse as heritage. Well, I come from one of the oldest cities in North America and I can guarantee that heritage does not have to exist because of a structure. It exists in so many other ways, such as a plaque with a garden commemorating the existence of a structure and the people who inhabited it, through festivals celebrating those who came before, stories passed down through generations, and community spirit. We’ve also read the Presentation to the Conservation Review Board and are appalled at the deterioration inside the farmhouse and the damage to the parts of the house that are supposed to be giving it heritage value. I’m shocked that the City feels this structure warrants a heritage designation. If the windows in the Wilson Farmhouse mean that much to the City, then donate them to the Guelph Civic Museum, although I’m sure they won’t look very good now that they’ve been boarded up.

Councillor Ian Findlay is trying to save this structure, for reasons we still cannot fathom. He wants to turn this farmhouse into a demonstration centre for energy-efficient products and technologies aimed at older homes. This means, even if the structure was deemed to have heritage significance and reconstructed, it still would not benefit the immediate community it sits in – a community with modern homes. Do the councillors who voted 7-6 last summer to see this building designated under the Ontario Heritage Act actually know the state the structure is in, the total disrepair? Findlay commented that “some of the neighbours are obviously concerned about the ongoing inactivity and neglect of the house” (Guelph Mercury). This is an understatement. Just last week we had to yell at some kids from the neighbourhood because they were trespassing and trying to beat down the front door to gain access.

Findlay sees three options: 1. demolish the property and leave a “ruins” with signage 2. sell the property 3. find community use that is affordable (Guelph Mercury). As we see it, there is only one option, the first one. A ruins site with benches, flowers, the remaining trees and a plaque would be such a beautiful place for residents to sit, reflect and gather to chat. Option 2 – Sell it, to whom? Have someone living across from us in a house that sits at a higher elevation than the rest of the community? That would look great. Option 3 – Find a community use that’s affordable? Sure, with corporate donations. And what will happen when the donations dry up? Use city money for it? That is not how we want our tax dollars used. The residents living in Guelph before we moved here did not vote for this! Use the City money to keep libraries up to date, with Wi-Fi. Use the money to repair some of the roads around this city. Use the money to fund programs for the residents. Anything else would be better.

As we see it, the option of a “REEP” House is selfish to even suggest. If the farmhouse is used for community use, we’re concerned about the level of traffic increasing on Simmonds Drive and Webster Street. Where would the visitors park? On the street? Across from our house? If the structure does indeed turn into a “REEP” House will this change the zoning of this corner, this 1/3 of the park? Especially if rooms in the house are leased or rented out for “community use” or to “agencies or others to offset the annual operating costs” (Guelph Mercury)? How many other residents is this going to attract to our quiet neighbourhood? We have major concerns about this as we start our family. Findlay says that “whether it’s formally designated or not doesn’t change what we would like to do with this particular property” (Guelph Mercury), well, Mr. Findlay, listen to your constituents in this neighbourhood. We do not want this farmhouse anymore. We want it to be demolished.

Many people do not like change, which could explain Findlay’s opposition to tearing down the farmhouse, but change is the only thing that is constant. Removing the deteriorated house will not create a “Mississaugafication of Guelph” as stated by Ms. Susan Ratcliffe, but rather a modernizing of a community that contains a structure that is very out of place, that is falling apart, and that doesn’t belong.

If this structure on 80 Simmonds Drive is reconstructed, visually, it will hold no significance to it’s residents and we would also loose 10% of our proposed park if it is severed and sold. Please listen to the residents of the Northern Heights Subdivision and put an end to this lengthy fight. Tear down the house, leave a ruins site, erect a plaque, and build the park. This is what we want. This is what the residents have voted for in our supposed democratic society. MS

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Sunday Jun 3rd - 2012

June 3rd, 2012 - Guelph Mercury Article:

Councillor Hails Costco Plans

GUELPH — At least one city councillor is ecstatic that the city is moving closer to allowing a Costco big box store in the city’s west end.

Ward 4 Coun. Cam Guthrie said “it’s about time” the megastore was allowed in Guelph.

“There’s a tonne of good news things about this whole thing and I have not gotten one email, had one phone call or run into one person on the street who is against it,” Guthrie said.

On Tuesday council will learn more about an application for a rezoning bylaw amendment to allow a 28,000-square-metre commercial development on the west side that would include a Costco.

It would be located on a 13-hectare parcel of land behind the current development at the intersection of Imperial Road and Paisley Road that includes a large Zehrs supermarket.

The site is the former Mitchell Farm property and is bordered by Elmira Road to the east, Paisley Road to the south, rail tracks just south of Curzon Crescent to the north and agricultural property in Guelph Township to the west.

The public is also being given a chance to comment on the proposal, which includes other retail development, a gas station and possibly a “home improvement retail warehouse.”

Council is not making any decisions at Tuesday’s meeting, but Guthrie’s mind is certainly made up.

“I’ve been told (by Costco officials) that there are 13,000 people in Guelph who are Costco members,” Guthrie said.

He said a Costco on Guelph’s west side gives consumers a choice and stops them from travelling to Costco stores in Cambridge or Kitchener, will create between 100 and 150 full-time jobs and a similar number of part-time jobs, brings tax revenue into the city and will attract more development to the location.

“If everything goes smoothly, people should be able to park and shop at a Costco in Guelph in fall of 2013,” said Guthrie, who has had several meetings with store officials.

One was hard-pressed to find anyone opposed to the plan Saturday.

“I think it would be awesome,” said Nigel Greene as he headed into the nearby Zehrs on Sunday. “I’ve been to the one in Cambridge before and I like it. When you have a big family, you can get some good deals.”

“I’d rather spend my money in Guelph than Cambridge,” said Randy Bell.

Even those not totally in favour didn’t seem to mind the idea.

“I don’t really shop at them, but if it creates jobs then it would be a good thing,” Brenda Miller said.

Tuesday’s meeting is a chance for councillors to become more informed and ask questions of staff and the people representing the applicant, Armel Corporation.

Staff will return to council at a future date with a recommendation.

Armel Corp. made the application last December and there has been talk of a Costco going into that location for several years.

Part of the earlier discussion centred on the fact a historically significant building in the form of the old Mitchell Farmhouse was located on the land.

Armel wants the current zoning of the lands changed from urban reserve and rural zone to a specialized community shopping centre zone and a number of small amendments made.

tsaxon@guelphmercury.com

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Friday Jun 1st - 2012

June 1st, 2012

Over the past week, a few people have emailed me asking about the “Free Tree Bus Tour” that’s currently being promoted by the city. When it was brought to my attention I too was interested. First question I tend to ask myself when any level of government says the word “FREE”, is that it’s often forgotten that nothing in government is free, it’s paid for by hard working taxpayers money.

So, I called the city and received some more details that I’ll share here:

Costs:     $300 for bus
                $60 for the speaker
                $300 for newspaper ads
               Staff time: “In-Kind as they are volunteering”.

This is being run through the water department, under the “Healthy Landscapes” service team as the city says they didn’t want to create another department for this service. It is for increasing education on the city’s urban forest and to let people know the strategic focus of increasing our urban canopy to 40% etc…

Thank you,

Cam

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

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