Ward 4 News

Councillor - Christine Billings

Monday Jul 30th - 2012

Good Afternoon,

Please find the attached Construction Notice with contacts for:

•    Speedvale Avenue Bridge repairs (between Woolwich Street and Riverview Drive)
o    Scheduled to begin on or about Tuesday, August 7th with approximate completion -  6 weeks
o    Project Manager – Mr. Brad Hamilton, ext. 2319
o    Construction Inspector – Mr. Corey Young (Gamsby & Mannerow),

This notice will be hand-delivered to residents and businesses directly affected. It will be advertised on the City Page in the Guelph Tribune and posted on guelph.ca/construction. Emergency Services and other City staff whose operations may be affected by the construction will be notified.

If you have any further questions, please contact the above or Mr. Richard Henry, at ext. 2248

Speedvale Avenue Bridge Repairs
(Located between Woolwich Street and Riverview Drive)


Repair work to the Speedvale Avenue Bridge over the Speed River is scheduled begin on or about Tuesday, August 7, 2012. The work will be undertaken by Maloney and Pepping Construction Limited from Stratford and take approximately 6 weeks to complete. The work involves repairs to the concrete barrier posts, sidewalks and girders on the underside of the bridge deck.

Speedvale Avenue will be reduced to one lane of traffic in each direction across the bridge throughout the duration of the repair work.

Local access to abutting residential properties and businesses will be maintained throughout the duration of the repair work.

Corey Young from Gamsby and Mannerow Limited will be providing construction inspection services for the repair work. Please feel free to contact Corey at 226-755-1055 regarding any construction issue.

The City of Guelph appreciates your patience, understanding and co-operation during this important infrastructure project. Construction information and updates are available on the City’s website at guelph.ca/construction.

Brad Hamilton, P.Eng.
Project Engineer,
Engineering Services, PBEE
1 Carden Street
Guelph, ON,   N1H 3A1
T 519-822-1260 x 2319
E brad.hamilton@guelph.ca
    Brad Bunke, P.Eng.
Project Manager,
Gamsby and Mannerow Limited
145 Thames Road West, Unit 4
Exeter, ON   N0M 1S3
T 519-235-2539
E bbunke@gamsby.com

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Monday Jul 30th - 2012

DATE July 27, 2012
TO Madam Mayor and Members of Guelph City Council
FROM Peter Busatto, General Manager
DIVISION Water Services
DEPARTMENT Planning, Building, Engineering and Environment
Wastewater Treatment Volumetric Charge Avoidance Customer Inquiries
Water Services and Wastewater Services staff received two separate inquiries this week
from members of Council on behalf of constituents seeking relief from wastewater
volumetric charges for water volumes used for consumptive uses (such as irrigation or
evaporative cooling), which are not discharged to the sanitary sewer for later treatment.
In response to these inquiries, staff developed the following response and through this
briefing note is informing senior staff and all members of Council.
The City’s current Council-approved water and wastewater rate policy requires residents and
local business to pay water and wastewater treatment volume charges for all water
consumed regardless of the end use of the water. Reasons for this policy include the
1) A Rate Structure that Encourages Careful Use and Equity
Council agreed that based on the limited nature of Guelph’s water supply,
reductions in rates would not be applied for high water use, such as water used
for cooling in industry or for irrigation. The current rates support equity in how all
customers are billed;
2) The Expense and Impracticality of Separate Water/Wastewater Metering
With the requirement to use specific industry-approved metering technologies for
customer billing purposes, the separate metering of wastewater flow from
individual customer sewer connections is largely unaffordable in terms of
Furthermore, to ensure integrity in business and billing practices, these meters
would also need to be installed by trained staff and read on a regular basis as
part of customer account collection cycles. Collectively, these costs are
anticipated to outweigh some of the financial benefit to customers associated
with installing a separate meter to differentiate outdoor water use;
3) User Pay Principle and the Additional Cost of Seasonal Summer Water Demands
Customers use water for cooling and irrigation usually during hot summer periods
when the local groundwater system is under stress and the cost of pumping this
water is more expensive than at other times of the year;
Additionally, more expensive infrastructure is maintained to support customer
seasonal and fire demands and paid for by all customers even though it benefits
only some customers. According to the user pay principle, increased peak service
charges should be applied to those customers using peak-related services. The
intent of this principle is achieved through the current policy, but could be further
refined in the future through the introduction of water smart meters, to better attribute seasonal utility cost requirements to applicable customers – this equity model is widely accepted for electrical utilities today; and Wastewater treatment costs are higher in summer months based on more stringent treatment requirements for this period. Based on the user pay principle, customers should be paying higher wastewater treatment charges in the summer, although it is unaffordable and impractical for the utility to charge more in the summer at this time. Again, the intent of higher wastewater rates for summer use is achieved through the current rate policy where customers pay full charges for cooling or irrigation water use;
4) Changes from the Current Rate Structure Would Not Necessarily Lead to Lower Customer Bills The loss of a portion of wastewater treatment volume revenue (i.e. irrigation and cooling revenue) by the utility would be offset by either expense reductions (which may not be realized as the majority of operational expenses are fixed in nature and not driven by consumption or lack thereof) or an overall rate increase on the remainder of wastewater customer rates.
Based on the above reasons, Council has supported the current rate structure where all customers pay both water and wastewater volume charges for all water used regardless of the type of use. This policy and billing practice is consistent with that employed by many Ontario municipalities.
To assist customers in alleviating financial impacts of peak season water use the City of Guelph offers numerous educational services to establish outdoor environments requiring less water, irrigation efficiencies and program resources (such as rain barrel sales) to establish systems to capture naturally received precipitation for outdoor use. For more information on these resources please visit the City’s Healthy Landscapes Program website at guelph.ca/healthylandscapes.
Peter L. Busatto
General Manager, Water Services
Water Services Division
Planning, Building, Engineering and Environment Department
T 519-822-1260 x 2106
F 519-822-8837
E peter.busatto@guelph.ca

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Monday Jul 30th - 2012

Hello Madame Mayor/Members of Council, in response to media enquiries seeking comment on correspondence they (and Council) have received from the Fair Pensions For All group, i.e. Bill Tufts, I have as follows:

•    Mr. Tuft’s information is misleading on several fronts.
•    At its July 23rd meeting, Council approved a budget guideline of up to three per cent, including all mandated increases (e.g., OMERS, CPP, EI).
•    The OMERS deficit is not new information and is an actuarial deficit  –  this is not a situation where OMERS expenditures are greater than contributions received from employers and employees and from investment income. An actuarial deficit is calculated based on projections many years into the future and based on a presumption of “how much would have to be paid tomorrow to everyone in the OMERS pension plan if required to.”  An analogy would be if all chartered banks were required to pay all deposits from customers, this would likely place them in a “deficit” position, as well. In both cases, the probability of this occurring is highly unlikely.
•    OMERS has had a provincially approved plan in place since 2010 to deal with the actuarial deficit through temporary employer and employee contribution rate increases.
•    At present, there will be no additional burden placed on municipalities including Guelph beyond the current provincially approved plan to fund the actuarial deficit as implied in Mr. Tuft’s correspondence. OMERS projections show an increase to the actuarial deficit to about $9.7 billion by the end of 2012 and to gradually decrease to 0 in the next 10-15 years based on the temporary contribution  rate increases already in place.
•    The projections of the “Top Ten” lifetime retirement calculations are misleading. Not all OMERS employees retire at the same time with the same amount of service. The calculation seems to assume a full 35 years of service and OMERS records show that, province wide, the average length of service at retirement is 25 years. Not all retirees collect an OMERS pension for the same number of years for obvious reasons.
•    The Municipal Employer Pension Centre of Ontario, a nonprofit corporation through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, which represents municipal interests – researches, advocates and provides municipal perspective on pension matters directly through to OMERS – is advocating on behalf of all municipalities for affordable pensions.
•    OMERS currently has $55 billion in assets. In 2011, OMERS collected $2.7 billion in contributions, which are paid 50 per cent by employers and 50 per cent by employees,  unlike other public sector pensions, and paid $2.4 billion to retirees.

If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me. Regards.”

For Mayor/Members of Council, if you have further questions, please contact me. Regards.

Mark Amorosi |Executive Director
Corporate and Human Resources
City of Guelph

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Thursday Jul 26th - 2012

Article from Guelph Tribune: July 26th, 2012:

See you in September: Summer recess remains

By Doug Hallett
Guelph Tribune

City council won’t be meeting again until early September, and Coun. Cam Guthrie doesn’t like that at all.

However, Guthrie’s bid to eliminate the summer recess from next year’s council schedule was defeated Monday on a 7-4 vote.

“We’d have eight more decision points” during a four-year council term if an early-in-the-month planning meeting and a late-in-the-month regular council meeting were scheduled for August, as they are for other months of the year, Guthrie said.

“I think there are some valid reasons why we should be working throughout the year for the residents,” he said.

“I never take August off,” Coun. Leanne Piper responded. Councillors are “still on duty” in August even if they aren’t going to committee and council meetings, she said.

As well as allowing councillors to catch up on their constituency work or vacation with their families, the August break is also recognition that city staff need time off, Piper said.
City residents appreciate a break from being concerned about council issues, said Coun. Lise Burcher. “It’s nice just to slow things down . . . it’s not just about us.”

Coun. Ian Findlay compared the city with senior levels of government, which have extended breaks. “If the federal government can take most of the summer off and still manage the affairs of the nation, we should be able to take one month off.”

Coun. Bob Bell said he’d like to see a reduced schedule of meetings in August that could be cancelled if the meetings are not needed.

Although city hall occasionally adds a meeting in August if it’s needed, it is not easy for a councillor to succeed in getting an August council meeting held, Bell said.

Mayor Karen Farbridge strongly disagreed with Guthrie’s motion. “It would be going back to an old way of doing business” at Guelph city hall, she said. “Summer meetings do not serve the community.”

Farbridge said a break from being engaged in the “relentless cycle” of committee and council meetings is not only healthy, but it also frees up city staff to deal with other issues, including those raised by residents.

A lot of staff who have already taken their vacations by August find the month is a good time to do highly productive work, she said. “I’ve heard that summer is when you get work done.”

If anything, Farbridge said, council should consider increasing rather than decreasing the breaks from council’s normal meeting schedule. January might be a good month for this, she suggested.

Voting with Guthrie were Bell, Jim Furfaro and Andy Van Hellemond.

Councillors Gloria Kovach and Maggie Laidlaw weren’t at Monday’s meeting.

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Thursday Jul 26th - 2012

Article from Guelph Tribune: July 26th, 2012

Council mulls potential tax rate increases

By Doug Hallett
Guelph Tribune

Coun. Cam Guthrie’s push to get city staff to explore what it would take to keep property taxes from going up in 2013 was turned aside this week by a majority on council.

In a 7-4 vote, council defeated Guthrie’s motion calling for staff to “show the potential implications” of a 2013 budget with a zero increase, a 1% increase and a 2% increase.

Instead, council approved a list of recommendations from senior city staff for preparation of the 2013 budget. The list includes a tax rate guideline of “up to” a 3% increase in the “net tax levy requirement” – the additional money that would need to be raised from property taxes in 2013.

Guthrie said several Ontario cities, including Markham, Hamilton, London and Windsor, seem to be able to avoid tax increases for years in a row.

These cities are “very determined and focused and committed” at both the staff level and the council level “to aim for zero,” he said.

“I think as an organization we should challenge ourselves to aim for less than 3%,” Guthrie said.
Guthrie got support from councillors Jim Furfaro, Bob Bell and Andy Van Hellemond, but most of council lined up against him. Councillors Gloria Kovach and Maggie Laidlaw were absent.

“At best, it is premature in our process,” Mayor Karen Farbridge said of Guthrie’s motion. She said it’s the sort of additional direction that council could give to staff in September, after getting a look at the draft budget prepared by staff over the summer using the guideline of up to 3%.

However, recalling the “disruptions in the community” caused by the city’s 2010 budget, Farbridge said she doubted Guelph residents want to go down that path again.

The 2010 budget, which was crafted to deal with a revenue shortfall of at least $8 million linked to the recession, included numerous service cuts, user fee increases, city hall spending reductions, five unpaid days off by city employees and job cuts at city hall.

Despite all this slashing, the 2010 budget also included a 3.66% increase in the tax levy.

Coun. Lise Burcher said cities that keep tax increases near zero employ major service cuts to get there, and she doesn’t want this for Guelph.

“It is going to be cutting into the meat if we do that,” Coun. Ian Findlay agreed.

Findlay also said Guelph is in the process of scrutinizing many of the things it does. These service reviews could eventually lead to savings in the city’s budgeting, he said.

However, Guthrie said that after talking recently with city CAO Ann Pappert, he doesn’t have confidence in the city’s service review process. He plans to table a motion related to service reviews in the fall for council to debate.

Bell said Guthrie’s motion could lead to useful “prioritization” by staff of spending that might help council bring a 2013 budget in at less than a 3% increase.

Coun. Karl Wettstein said that if council wants to achieve a tax increase lower than 3%, it’s up to councillors to “start talking to people” about how this might be
done, rather than relying too much on city staff.

Wettstein also said it will be tough for staff to even get the budget down to 3%, given the financial numbers contained in a new staff report.

The report says it would cost $15 million, or 8.5%, more to deliver the same level of service in 2013 than it’s costing in 2012.

And, the report says, this doesn’t include any money for new services or service enhancements that might be proposed during the 2013 budget process, which ends in December.

“As in prior years, the intention will be to submit these requests separately from the base budget,” it says.

One of the pressures on the 2013 base budget is an additional $4.4 million needed for salaries and benefits for city employees, the report says.

Another pressure comes from an anticipated 2013 reduction in supplementary revenues – revenues resulting from new taxes billed on new or expanded buildings. Although the city is issuing a lot of building permits, most are for minor residential projects, the report says.

“A lack of new industrial and commercial building permits issued to date in 2012 has caused the estimate for supplementary revenue to be reduced for 2013,” it says.

There is also pressure on the capital budget front, with staff proposing to increase allocations to capital reserves in the 2013 budget by $3.2 million, it says.

To bring the tax levy increase in the base budget down to no more than 3%, staff won’t limit themselves to traditional ways of addressing budget pressures, says the report, which was recommended to council by Al Horsman, the city’s new chief financial officer.

Staff are “committed to exploring non-traditional approaches, including efficiencies, innovative financing, and different reserve and debt ratios to manage the potential pressures identified for 2013,” the report says.

Each 1% reduction in the city’s 2013 budget represents about $1.75 million.

City budgets include money not only for operations under the direct control of city hall, but also for the city’s share of social services controlled by the county and of public health services controlled by the regional health board.

It also includes spending by the police and library boards.

The report says it’s assumed that both the police and library boards will send 2013 operating budgets to the city with a 3% increase over 2012.

However, the Guelph Police Services Board last week approved a 2013 budget of $34.6 million, which is about 5% higher than its 2012 budget.

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Thursday Jul 26th - 2012

Article from Guelph Mercury: July 26th, 2012:

Guelph wants permission to use bag liners in green waste carts

GUELPH – The City of Guelph is asking the province to relax a provision which would eventually ban bags in the waste collection system.

Specifically, the city wants the Ministry of Environment to revoke a condition in the certificate of approval for the organics processing facility which bans collection of organics via a bag-based system.

Instead the city is seeking permission to use “organic bags,” which are derived from plants or animals and are easily biodegradable.

The issue is to be discussed Thursday evening during the next regular meeting of the organics processing facility’s public liaison committee.

Dean Wyman, the city’s general manager of solid waste resources, said the key complaint officials have heard as they plan to launch a cart-based collection system later this year is that liners can not be used inside the green organic waste carts.

“We’re trying to address residents’ concerns … to be able to use a certain type of compostable bags,” Wyman said, adding most municipalities allow use of bags as liners “and we want the same opportunity for our residents.”

The ministry requires the city to phase-out plastic bags from its organics waste stream over the next three years as the wheeled carts are phased in.

But Ottawa-area composter Orgaworld Canada Ltd. successfully appealed a similar condition in its certificate of approval, opening the door for Guelph to seek a similar relief.

Ken Spira, who lives near the Guelph organics facility and is president of the Guelph Waste Management Coalition, said he is concerned about the city’s application.

Spira noted he understands the restriction on accepting bagged waste was imposed “because of the location of this facility in relation to the residential area, and that odour would be magnified if it comes in in bags” because waste starts to break down faster is enclosed.

Spira said if the facility was not near a residential area “I’d be 100 per cent for the bags … for everyone who has to deal with these (waste) containers without the use of bags.”

Wyman said collecting waste in compostable liners has not been shown to increase odours.

“We’re not concerned about odours at all,” he said.

Wyman said as well as addressing residents’ concerns about being able to use liners in their carts, removing the no-bag restriction would also open up partnership opportunities between the city and other municipalities.

A report to go before the public liaison committee suggests 62 per cent of Ontario municipalities offering separate organics collection allow the use of compostable liners, including 80 per cent of municipalities within 150 kilometres of Guelph.

Wyman said the city has “a little excess capacity” at the facility and could offer that capacity to neighbouring municipalities to generate some revenue, as long as Guelph would be able to accept their waste.

However he stressed this is “a secondary benefit” of using compostable bags, adding he expects Waterloo Region – with which Guelph has a contract – will eventually use any capacity Guelph does not require.

Guelph’s switch to a cart-based system was largely prompted by the no-bag condition the city is currently trying to overturn. But Wyman stressed the city is only seeking permission to accept compostable bags in the organics stream, so the plastic garbage bags currently in use would be banned either way.

He also noted the city estimates it will save $460,000 annually in operating costs once the carts and automated collection system are fully implemented.

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Thursday Jul 26th - 2012

Article from Guelph Mercury July 26th, 2012:


Will council consider tighter civic budgets?

Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge suggested this week that a push by another councillor to see municipal staffers prepare a variety of civic budget scenarios was a “premature” notion.

Coun. Cam Guthrie had moved for city staff to bring back to council draft budget scenarios that would see proposals for 2013 civic operating budgets based on zero, one and two per cent increases in Guelph’s property tax rate for next year.

Farbridge was among the members of council who opposed this suggestion. She asserted it was too early in the budgeting process for such an idea to be considered.

That seems an odd reason to offer in this discussion.

This is early in the budget process. But Guthrie floated this amid a council workshop-type session to set the framework with civic administration to build a proposed 2013 city operating budget. Council is months away from going line by line over a draft budget for next year. It seemed this week’s meeting would have provided a most opportune time to voice this idea. If not, when would be a more optimal one?

Most members of council have signalled in some way that they’re aware of the widespread frustration within the community over a variety of taxation issues. There’s a wide general anxiety over the ever-increasing property tax rate — which recently has annually been well over the rate of inflation. There’s also a wide sense of fatigue in the community over what’s perceived as a yearly civic-political property tax stratagem.

This sees a huge, potential tax-increase figure just to sustain civic services for the next year made public about mid-year. Then, council and city administrators make moves that achieve a lower rate of tax increase, which seems to be a great relief in light of the big number previously rolled out.

This week, council urged the fashioning of a draft budget that would see no more than a three per cent property tax increase. For residents miffed at recent city property tax rate management, this will likely seem like progress, and also seem like a disappointment.

It’s not the eight-plus per cent tax hike possibility aired earlier this summer by city administration as a figure that would be needed to sustain services for next year. But it’s a step toward another budget with a likely higher than inflation rate property tax increase.

There are a lot of local residents who would like to see a deeper political conversation about having a budgeting process that considers much less than three per cent tax increases folded in each year. Is there enough political will on this council to see that happen? That doesn’t appear to be the case.

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Thursday Jul 26th - 2012

July 26 2012

Mayor and City Councilors
The City of Guelph
1 Garden Street  
Guelph ON N1H 3A1

Provincial Downloading of $7.3 billion pension deficit to municipalities

Dear Mayor and Councilors:

We are bringing to your attention the current situation with the OMERS pension plan, and urge you to investigate the implications that current downloading of the $7.3 billion deficit onto municipalities will have on your city. OMERS has commented that they expect this to increase to $10 billion by the end of the year. Our estimates suggest it could be even higher.

City Obligation

Since the plan has a $7.3 billion shortfall for 263,000 employees, this can be prorated to the cities based on the number of employees they have. The shortfall amounts to $27,750 for each employee. Based on the current FTE employee count in Guelph of 1,506 the total liability for the City amounts to $41.7 million, rising to over $51.5 million by the end of the year. [i]

The City of Ottawa admitted that this liability is already costing them an extra $10 million per year in taxpayer contributions. Last year, Guelph matched contributions at 12.9% of salary (25.8% total). The 2013 contributions will be 15.9% per employee at the highest level.

Is it fair to ask voting taxpayers to continually increase their contributions to city employee pensions when statistics show their own pensions average only $60,000 in value at retirement?

There is currently no realistic plan to eliminate the deficit and the risk that it poses to Ontario’s cities. Consider this unconvincing “solution” promoted by OMERS management:

 “...OMERS said investment returns (which it hopes will be between 7 and 11 per cent annually over the long-term) and temporary contribution increases from members as well as benefit reductions should return the plan to surplus within 10 to 15 years. Meanwhile OMERS earned (only) 3.17 per cent on its investments, or $1.7-billion, in 2011, and its assets rose to an all-time high of $55.1-billion. (Globe and Mail, Feb 24,2012)[ii]

Current Shortfall

The shortfall at OMERS is escalating rapidly and is cause for concern for us. Last year, for example, the plan increased its shortfall by $2.8 billion. This is up from a zero deficit just three years previous. This shortfall increase is despite unprecedented funding increases of $2.7 billion last year based on employees’ and employers’ matching contributions.

OMERS Review Process

The Province has dropped responsibility for the OMERS plan directly onto cities, and has moved away from an implicit backstop on pension shortfalls. In conjunction with this, they have commenced a pension review based on changes to the plan in 2006. The elected city officials we have spoken with are blissfully unaware of either the changes to the pension plan or the current review. It has come to our attention that there are no cities that have submitted proposals to the OMERS Review.

We urge you to investigate and bring Council up to date! Please contact us if you need any further information regarding this process.


William Tufts, GBA
Executive Director
Fair Pensions For All

Bill Tufts
Fair Pensions For All
Call: 905-741-1904
Web site: Fair Pensions For All
Twitter - @Fairpension
Ste, 824 1063 King St. W
Hamilton On.
L8S 4S3

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Wednesday Jul 25th - 2012

From the Guelph Mercury: July 24th, 2012

Cam Guthrie sees the blank spaces on council’s meeting calendar as missed opportunities.

Most of his colleagues don’t share that view.

Councillors Monday rejected a resolution which would have meant an end to council’s traditional August break, when there are no regularly-scheduled committee or council meetings.

Guthrie said not having meetings during that month means councillors “miss the opportunity for two decision points,” as there is typically a council planning meeting at the beginning of each month and the regular council meeting near the end of the month.

He proposed scheduling those meetings to keep the city’s business moving year-round.

“I never take the month of August off,” Coun. Leanne Piper countered. “I’m answering constituents’ emails and attending events representing council.”

Piper noted there are provisions for August council meetings if there are time-sensitive matters to be discussed, but otherwise, organizing meetings during August is a strain on staff resources during peak vacation times.

“If the federal government can take most of the summer off and still manage the affairs of the nation, I think council can miss a couple of meetings,” noted Coun. Ian Findlay, agreeing most councillors continue working through the summer regardless.

Guthrie became upset some councillors appeared to believe he considered August to be time off.

“I specifically said I’m looking for two more decision points,” he said. “It had nothing to do with not responding to constituents.”

Mayor Karen Farbridge said while she is always interested in proposals aimed at increasing productivity, she believes Guthrie’s proposal does the opposite.

The mayor said it requires “enormous (staff) resources” to organize council and committee meetings, noting not having those meetings in August allows staff time to focus on other tasks.

“I’ve often heard from staff … that summer is when you get things done,” Farbridge said.

The mayor said it might make more sense to extend the summer meeting hiatus, or to introduce a similar break in January so staff can spend December focusing on year-end tasks rather then organizing agendas.

“It’s got nothing to do with vacations (and) everything to do with productivity,” Farbridge said.

Guthrie’s resolution failed on a 7-4 vote

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Wednesday Jul 25th - 2012

I thought it might be valuable to provide a quick update regarding my ongoing work on Open Government. As you may be aware, Open Government is one of the four ‘pillars’ to the Corporate Technology Strategy which will be coming to Council in September as I understand.

I’m sure you have all come across the term Open Government as it is now quite commonly used, however, it is not always adequately defined. In an attempt to decode this concept and in relation to a strategic initiative identified in the 2012 CSP, I am currently developing an Open Government Framework for the City.

In general terms, the framework will provide information related to concepts such as open data, open source standards/procurement, proactive information disclosure, knowledge sharing, innovation partnerships and crowdsourcing. I will also provide examples of successful Open Gov initiatives led by other public sector agencies along with a high level roadmap for Guelph. In order to ensure a successful and fully sustainable program there will be a need to develop an Open Government Strategy and associated work plan. Along with the identification of both short and long term objectives as well as support requirements, this plan will also make connections to work currently underway within the organization such as the Corporate Technology Strategy, Citizen Engagement Framework and Community Well Being Plan.

The Open Government Framework will be brought forward for your consideration prior to the end of 2012. I look forward to collaborating with all of you in order to move forward this interesting and important work. Staff

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Tuesday Jul 24th - 2012

Guelph Mercury Article: July 24th, 2012

City councillors have certainly not ruled out the possibility of a tax increase of less than three per cent, but did shoot down a proposal that would have seen staff spell out the ramifications of going below that number.

On Monday evening, council voted to have staff prepare a draft 2013 operating budget using a tax rate guideline representing an increase of up to three per cent.

But councillors rejected an amendment from Coun. Cam Guthrie which would have also seen staff report back on the implications of bringing back tax increases of zero, one and two per cent.

Guthrie noted he has been doing some research and has found several Ontario municipalities — including Markham, Hamilton and Windsor — which have returned year-over-year zero per cent increases.

“Maybe we can do something different,” Guthrie said. “I view it as a challenge.”

Other councillors, it seemed, viewed it differently.

Coun. Lise Burcher said municipalities which freeze taxes typically experience significant service cuts.

“Personally, I don’t want to live in a community that cuts tremendously to get to zero,” Burcher said, noting if services are to be cut or scaled back that should be a decision for councillors to make.

Other councillors picked up on this.

“I don’t think it’s fair to ask staff to come up with $5 million in service cuts when it’s our accountability,” said Coun. Karl Wettstein, referring to the fact it requires approximately $1.75 million to save one per cent.

Coun. Leanne Piper noted it will take “a great deal of staff time” just to arrive at a draft budget representing a three per cent increase over last year. She noted once councillors see that draft, they will be able to make cuts or amendments if they want to get the tax rate lower.

“If you start going down to zero, you’re going to be cutting into the meat of what we do,” said Coun. Ian Findlay, noting while he likes the idea of a tax freeze, he doesn’t believe it feasible.

Councillors heard during a workshop last week it will cost approximately $15 million — or about 8.5 per cent — more in 2013 to offer the same services being offered this year. But city staff had recommended councillors aim for a three per cent boost in the net tax levy requirement, to provide direction during the next two months as staff begin to craft the 2013 budget.

A draft will be presented during a second council workshop in September.

Mayor Karen Farbridge said Monday she does not support Guthrie’s proposed amendment, calling it “premature” so early in the budget process.

Outside the council meeting, Guthrie noted his research suggests municipalities which have held taxes stagnant have managed to do so without service cuts.

“It requires a will to do it and a common goal between councillors and staff working together,” he said.

Guthrie’s amendment failed 7-4, with councillors Bob Bell, Jim Furfaro and Andy Van Hellemond voting in favour. Councillors Maggie Laidlaw and Gloria Kovach were absent from the meeting.

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Tuesday Jul 24th - 2012

July 24th, 2012

Could someone throw me a bone?

Council work is exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I’ve never felt more determined or energetic about something like this role that I’m in for a long time. But none the less, it’s exhausting.

There are the endless emails, phone calls both on my cell and at home, meeting residents at their home or at other functions and then preparing for the meetings while having more meetings with city staff and it goes on like this.

And as I stated above, I love it.

But at the end of the day, I have ideas. Ideas that I was elected on. Ideas like Common sense, less government interference, lower taxes and looking over everything with a fresh set of eyes. Yet these ideas seem to consistently go no-where. And that’s the exhausting part. That’s why I started this post by saying “Could someone throw me a bone?”

It seems on a consistent basis that whether I bring forward amendments or motions to the table, they got shot down.

I have an idea to try and save the taxpayers some money! Voted down.
What if we did this same service in a new way? Voted down.
Maybe if we worked a couple more meetings in throughout the year we could accomplish so much more! Voted down.

Other communities can hold taxes low without service cuts! Maybe we could do that too? Who's with me? Voted down.

How about we ask staff to present a couple options for us to look at? Voted down.


It’s a broken record and at this point in my term I ‘m thinking we’re going to see a lot more of the same. Fine with me. That's democracy. Council speaks as one voice depending on how the vote goes. I get that. I respect that and I accept it. Time to move on when things don't go my way. No problem.

But wouldn't it be nice if only a couple more councillors would hit the other button once and a while?

Then we'd have that bone to chew on.

Cam Guthrie

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Friday Jul 20th - 2012


City sells former Guelph Civic Museum property to Tyrcathlen Partners Ltd.
Conditional sale of 6 Dublin Street to close October 31

GUELPH, ON, July 6, 2012– The City has accepted Tyrcathlen Partners Ltd.'s offer to buy the former Guelph Civic Museum property, located at 6 Dublin Street.
"Tyrcathlen Partners are excited and thankful Guelph City Council endorsed its vision of creating a centre for arts, culture and new media in the former Guelph Civic Museum building," said Kirk Roberts, a principal of Tyrcathlen Partners. "Our next step is to work with leaders in the Guelph arts community to transform our vision into reality."
The agreement with Tyrcathlen is conditional on inspections and is scheduled to close October 31.  The purchase price will remain confidential until the deal closes.
In 1980, 6 Dublin Street South became the home of the Guelph Civic Museum. Earlier this year, with City, provincial and federal government funding, the museum was relocated to 52 Norfolk Street — a facility that is almost three times the size of the 6 Dublin Street location.  

Jim Stokes
Manager, Realty Services
Legal and Realty Services
Corporate and Human Resources
T 519-822-1260  x 2279
E jim.stokes@guelph.ca

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Friday Jul 20th - 2012


Open-air burning strictly prohibited
A reminder from the Guelph Fire Department
GUELPH, ON - Friday, July 6 - The Guelph Fire Department is reminding residents that camp fires, bon fires and any other open-air burning are strictly prohibited within City limits.

According to Environment Canada the hot, dry weather is expected to continue for the next few days. During this type of weather embers from any outdoor fire (e.g. those in a pit, chiminea, or unsupervised cooking fire) can catch on nearby grass and other vegetation and quickly burn out of control.

“We want people to have a safe and fun summer with their family and friends,” says Deputy Fire Chief John Osborne. “To avoid having a fire burn out of control we’re reminding everyone that open air burning is not permitted, and we’re asking people to take a few safety precautions when getting ready to grill in the back yard.”

The Guelph Fire Department suggests residents use a natural gas, propane or electric barbecue grill with a lid when cooking outdoors, and encourages people to have a water source like a charged garden hose on hand for safety.

The Ontario Fire Code reads: open air burning shall not be permitted unless approved by the Chief Fire Official, or unless such burning consists of a small, confined fire, supervised at all times, and used to cook food on a grill or a barbecue. Anyone who contravenes the Ontario Fire Code is liable to a fine of not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or to both.

Residents can learn more about open-air burning by calling 519-763-8111 or at guelph.ca/fire  

John Osborne, Deputy Fire Chief
Emergency Services
T 519-824-6590 x 2140
E john.osborne@guelph.ca

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Friday Jul 20th - 2012

Questions and answers
Q. Why was Urbacon, the contractor for City Hall, fired?
A. The City terminated its contract with Urbacon because the work on City Hall was excessively delayed and it was unknown when Urbacon would be able to finish.  The leases for office space that the City had negotiated in the interim were coming to an end and it was not known how long Urbacon would take to complete the building.  
Q. How many times was the construction schedule for City Hall changed? 

A. According to Urbacon’s original construction schedule, City Hall was to be substantially complete by February 28, 2008. An extension for the completion date to August 15, 2008 was negotiated and agreed to in December 2007. Shortly after, an additional extension to September 8, 2008 was made to accommodate design changes.

Q. What is the status of the City’s legal matters with Urbacon?

A. A month after Urbacon’s contract was terminated, Urbacon filed a $20 million breach of contract lawsuit against the City. The City then filed a $5 million counterclaim against Urbacon.
The City and Urbacon will participate in two days of voluntary mediation, September 20 and 21, 2012, to collaboratively and equitably resolve outstanding legal matters and to reduce legal costs for all parties.
If these matters are not resolved through mediation, the City and Urbacon will go to trial in January, 2013.

Q. How much money has the City paid to date on legal costs against Urbacon?
A. The City cannot publicly release the amount spent on legal costs at this time because it relates to ongoing litigation including the City’s legal strategy. This information will be available once the litigation has been resolved. 

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Wednesday Jul 18th - 2012

A Summer of Family Fun at Market Square

Guelph, ON, July 13, 2012– Enjoy a drive-in experience minus the car this summer in Market Square.  Four family-themed films will be shown on a giant screen in Guelph’s newest gathering place during July, August, and September as part of a new programming initiative called Movies in the Square.  

Families are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to the screenings, with seating on a first-come, first served basis. The free films will begin at 9:00 p.m. Movie screenings will be cancelled in the case of inclement weather.

The movie line-up includes:
•    July 20 – ET: The Extra-Terrestrial.  The Steven Spielberg-directed 1982 film classic features a young Drew Barrymore in the tale of an alien stranded on Earth, three million light years from its home planet.
•    August 10 – The Princess Bride.  A classic fairy tale, with swordplay, giants, an evil prince, a beautiful princess, and yes, some kissing (as read by a kindly grandfather).
•    August 24 – The Wizard of Oz.  A young girl is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home in this 1939 classic.
•    September 14 – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  A young boy wins a tour through the most magnificent chocolate factory in the world, led by the world's most unusual candy maker, played by Johnny Depp.

It’s not just films that promise family fun!  Market Square will host a number of other events into the Fall that make this the place to be.

•    August 4 – John Galt Day.  Splash in the water and enjoy free entertainment and activities as part of this annual celebration of Guelph’s founder.  The event runs from 10:00 a.m.to 2:00.p.m.
•    September 8 – Guelph Jazz Festival & Nuit Blanche. This free all-day concert, beginning at 11:30 a.m., is a favourite with festival goers.  The entertainment carries on into the night with performances and art installations at indoor and outdoor venues throughout the city.
•    September 28 – Celebrating Culture Days.  With a stroke of genius and an innovative twist on contemporary dance, CORPUS offers a surrealistic and hilarious view of sheep behaviour with a show entitled Les Moutons.  Performances take place at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Visit guelph.ca/marketsquare for event updates.


Colleen Clack, General Manager
Culture & Tourism
 519-822-1260 x 2588

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Wednesday Jul 18th - 2012


Celebrate John Galt at Market Square on August 4
Guelph, ON, July 16, 2011 –Join us for a day of free festivities in honour of Guelph’s founder John Galt on Saturday, August 4, 2012 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Market Square. Guelph’s 6th annual civic celebration offers activities for the whole family to enjoy: live entertainment, children’s games, crafts and face painting, food and much more.

This year’s event features performances by members of Guelph Arts Platform; a guided historical walking tour of downtown with the Guelph Arts Council; tours of Locomotive 6167; Farmers’ Market craft and food vendors;  free admission and cookie tasting at the Civic Museum; and a historical talk entitled “The John Galt that Guelph Doesn’t Know.”

“John Galt Day is a unique made-in-Guelph civic celebration that offers residents and visitors the opportunity to honour an important part of Guelph’s history and enjoy a day of free entertainment,” says Mayor Karen Farbridge.  “Everyone is invited to come to Market Square, splash in the water and enjoy the exciting atmosphere in Guelph’s newest public gathering space.”

John Galt was a prominent Scottish novelist who founded Guelph in 1827. As the superintendent of The Canada Company, a large land company in London, England, he conceived the idea of building a town to stimulate and direct the agricultural settlement of the area. Galt planned the community with its distinctive radial design, quite different than the gridiron plan of most cities, thus making Guelph a unique and special place.

On August 5, 2012 at 12:30 p.m., the Guelph Historical Society is hosting the Kirking of the Tartan at the Church of our Lady Immaculate.  This Scottish ceremonial parade of dignitaries recognizing public service to the community was practiced in Scotland at the time of Guelph’s founding.

For more information about John Galt Day activities, visit guelph.ca/johngaltday.

- 30 -
Danna Evans | Event Manager
Market Square | City of Guelph
519-822-1260 ext 2621

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Wednesday Jul 18th - 2012

City’s outside water use program moves up to Level 2 Red
Residents and businesses asked to reduce water use by 20 per cent

GUELPH, ON, July 18, 2012 — Low precipitation, high temperatures and drought-like conditions have prompted City officials to elevate the Outside Water Use Program (OWUP) to Level 2 Red.

In Level 2 Red, residents and businesses are asked to reduce water use by 20 per cent and stop any non-essential outside use, such as lawn watering. All time shift watering permits are also suspended. However, new lawn and treated lawn permits remain active and continue to be issued. Should conditions persist, all water permits may be suspended.

In addition, alternate day and time watering restrictions are in place for trees, shrubs, flowers and ornamental gardens, as well as vehicle washing (hose must be equipped with a shut-off nozzle). Homeowners with odd-numbered addresses are permitted to water plants and wash their vehicles on odd-numbered days and those with even-numbered addresses on even-numbered days – between 7 and 9 a.m. and 7 and 9 p.m.

There are no water restrictions for recreation uses such as sprinklers, splash pads, pools and hot tubs.

According to Wayne Galliher, water conservation project manager with the City’s Water Services, the level change is a result of local watershed conditions, which includes decreasing flows in the Eramosa River and below average levels of local groundwater.

“With continuing drought-like conditions and further observed decreases in environmental indicators, such as the Eramosa River flows, it is necessary that water use restrictions are implemented at this time to protect our precious water resources.”

Hot Summer Nights
Level 2 Red will also impact the City’s scheduled ‘Hot Summer Nights’ events hosted by the Guelph Fire Department. These events typically include water activities, but due to imposed water restrictions, the fire department is removing this feature from the events. However, the public is still invited to meet with members of the fire department, along with representatives of Guelph-Wellington Emergency Medical Service and Guelph Police Service, who will continue to attend the events to promote summer safety and tours of emergency vehicles.

Increased enforcement of the City’s outside water use bylaw is implemented as part of Level 1 Yellow and Level 2 Red. Failure to comply with this bylaw may result in a set fine of $130 or a summons to appear in court and, upon conviction, a maximum fine of $5,000.

Guelph is one of the largest communities in Canada to rely solely on a groundwater source for its drinking water needs. Groundwater is unique as it is limited in quantity, it takes much longer to replenish than surface water and is vulnerable to drought conditions and overuse.

The City of Guelph and the Grand River Conservation Authority continue to monitor and evaluate watershed conditions in accordance with the Ontario Low Water Response Plan.

For more information about Guelph’s Outside Water Use Program, please visit guelph.ca/water or call 519-822-1260 x 2153.

Wayne Galliher
Water Conservation Project Manager
Water Services
T 519-822-1260 x 2106
E wayne.galliher@guelph.ca


Also here's more info:

.   For your reference::

•    Level 2-Red has be implemented under the Outside Water Use Program to protect the City’s water supply throughout ongoing drought conditions.  Conditions driving this level change include both 1 month precipitation averages (currently 22% of average 30 year normal) and decreasing Eramosa River flows (currently 50% of minimum flow requirements).   

•    In accordance with the City’s Outside Water Use Bylaw, residents and businesses are asked to reduce water use by 20 per cent and stop any non-essential outside use, such as lawn watering, during Level 2 Red. All time shift watering permits are also suspended. However, new lawn and treated lawn permits remain active and continue to be issued. Should conditions persist, all water permits may be suspended.  In addition, alternate day and time watering restrictions are in place for trees, shrubs, flowers and ornamental gardens, as well as vehicle washing (hose must be equipped with a shut-off nozzle). Homeowners with odd-numbered addresses are permitted to water plants and wash their vehicles on odd-numbered days and those with even-numbered addresses on even-numbered days – between 7 and 9 a.m. and 7 and 9 p.m.

•    There are no water restrictions in place for recreation uses such as sprinklers, splash pads, pools and hot tubs.

•    During Level 2 Red increased enforcement of the City’s Outside Water Use Bylaw is implemented. Failure to comply with this bylaw may result in a set fine of $130 or a summons to appear in court and, upon conviction, a maximum fine of $5,000.

•    Staff are continuing to closely monitor all conditions/indicators under the low water response program and will alleviate current water use restrictions should watershed conditions approve.

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Wednesday Jul 18th - 2012

How many ball diamonds do we have here in the city and how many of them are city operated? The other diamonds, are they operated by the school board or the province?
We maintain (44) city owned – A & B class fields.  Plus (2) Separate school fields  located at St. James, under a reciprocal agreement with the WCDSB and (1) diamond located off Stone Road at OMAFRA
Our sports field permitting season runs from the start of ~ the second full week in May to September 30th.
(47) diamonds are groomed weekly.
The public school diamonds, such as Brant Ave. P. S. are booked and maintained by the school board.

Are there enough baseball diamonds in the city for the demand?
Based on the number of baseball facilities that are not booked, and an industry target of 1:2500 residents, we believe we’re in the ‘ball park’.   The desire from ball groups is for larger sports field complexes providing numerous (4+) fields to afford tournament opportunities; however, this is a larger park planning matter.  

We’ve had a number of people comment on the quality of some of the fields in Guelph. Is the city using parks like Peter Misersky, which is much lower quality than other parks, like say, behind Bishop Mac high school, because the demand for ball diamonds is so high?   
The fields at Peter Misersky Park are not booked, therefore, they receive a minimum standard of care---grass cutting/trimming but no grooming of the infield.  Our staffing, equipment and material resources are focused on permitted facilities.

How does the maintenance schedule for these parks work? Are they all maintained regularly or at the beginning of the year, or does the city wait for a complaint and then address it? Some parks seem to be in poor shape, while others are looking great. How does the city decide which ones to work on?
As noted above, our maintenance activity is focused on permitted facilities.   Maintenance-wise,  of our (47) fields, they are either deemed to be Class A or B .   Class  A  - fields are gilled per booking, while Class B  - fields are gilled 2 to 3 times per week.
Foul lines are painted every 15 to 20 working days. All  fields are checked at the start of the year as part of our sport field inspections.  Unless the scrub-type diamonds are booked, they are not maintained apart from cutting and trimming.  Maintenance and safety issues with these fields are when reported by area  crews, or as part of our health and safety inspections of park facilities.

I’d also be interested to hearing about the cost of renting diamonds. We’ve heard from a few people that Guelph is an expensive place to host baseball tournaments. How does Guelph compare to nearby cities in terms of the cost of renting the diamonds for hosting tournaments. Does Guelph charge more? What is the cost for renting the diamonds for tournaments?
Rental fees are identified within our Council approved rates and fees---the schedule is updated annually. Youth groups currently receive a 47.5% subsidy/discount on all sports field bookings. For 2012, our rates, hourly for the most part, are as follows.

Parks and Recreation    
Class AA Facilities (incl dressing rooms, lining and dragging) Hourly rate    
Hastings Stadium     $          40.00      
Class A Facilities (incl painting of lines, dragging) Hourly    
Guelph Lake GG1,GG2,GG3    $           16.19
Guelph Lake GG4, GG5,GG6,GG7    $           13.66
LP1, LP2    $           13.66
LP3 (includes score board and press box)    $           16.92
Exhibition A1    $           13.66
Joe Kaine C7    $           11.37
Lyons D2    $           11.37      
Class B Facilities    
Baseball, Softball, Cricket, Soccer, Combination Fields, Multi-sport     $          10.29      
Other  Facilities    
Volleyball, Basketball, Tennis     $           8.91      
Lighted facilities - light charges per hour - Subsidies do not apply    
Softball - Lyon Park     $          26.92
Softball - Guelph Lake     $          26.92
Softball - Exhibition A1     $          26.92
Baseball - Hastings Stadium     $          35.00
Baseball - Joe Kaine C7     $          26.92
Larry Pearson Complex     $          26.92     
Field/Diamond Preparation: flat rate - Subsidies do not apply    
Groomnig of any diamond     $          66.18
Lining: flat rate    
Baseball/Softball- all     $          68.92    
A & B Tournament/Special Event Fees (per day per facility) Subsidies do not apply.    
Fee applied per sports facility, per day or part day  for the provision of add'l sanitation collection and disposal services---does not include field lining.     $          25.75
Tournament/Special Event Staffing - Hourly   Subsidies do not apply.    
Additional dedicated staff on-site - Minimum 3 hour booking     $          99.37
Special event staffing (sanitation services) - per person, per hour     $          57.86
Special event clean-up (per person/per hour)applied to parks left in an unacceptable state     $          57.86

We believe our rates are competitive to area municipalities……would suggest you touch base with your sample group to compare and confirm if the subsidy, which we provide to youth, is included or not.  Further, the likes of Guelph Girls Softball has hosted provincial and national tournaments where they have been awarded fee waivers to address thousands of dollars of rental charges.   When comparing rates, it is imperative to confirm the facilities and amenities are like for like.



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Wednesday Jul 18th - 2012

From Staff: July 17th, 2012


Good afternoon,
Regarding Accessibility for the Solid Waste Automated Cart Collection Program:

Q)    Is the City offering special assistance for residents with their waste collection?
A)     Yes.
Q)    What are the details of the program?
A)     Residents are asked to choose the size of cart that needs their waste generation needs. Once they receive their carts, residents  are asked to call Solid Waste Resources and staff will visit with them to discuss their individual needs. Assistance will be provided on a case by case basis.
Q)    How much interest do you expect in response to the program?
A)     Research of best practices from other municipalities with cart programs have shown very limited requests for the service and indicate that residents prefer to be independent and are unlikely to abuse the program.
Q)    How is the program being communicated?  
A)     Information has been provided on our website and the brochure that was delivered in May to each household on the 2012 rollout instructing residents who require special assistance with their waste collection to contact Solid Waste Resources.  In addition, this information will be provided in the User Guide that will be delivered inside the carts.  Solid Waste has also been in communication with the City’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and Guelph Independent Living.

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Friday Jul 6th - 2012

Cart Based Garbage Research & Survey Results 2012.pdf


Click on the above link to take you to the results of a recent survey done to many Guelph households about the upcoming garbage bins rolling out to us starting this fall.


Seems to be good uptake on it from what this survey says.

Thank you,


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Friday Jul 6th - 2012

July 6th, 2012Info from STAFF:

Following is an update on the roll out of the fully automated carts collection program, which will begin this fall.

Project update
•    Carts have been ordered and production is underway.
•    Solid Waste Resources staff will continue to accommodate residents’ cart size selections.
•    Automated collection trucks will begin arriving in August.
•    Carts will be delivered to select homes starting this fall.

Public opinion research findings
This June, the City commissioned a statistically significant telephone survey of 411 residents in neighbourhoods scheduled to receive carts this fall and learned...
•    98 per cent of residents are aware of the conversion to the fully automated  carts collection program
•    79 per cent of residents are aware they will receive their carts this fall
•    90 per cent of residents received the carts information package delivered to their home by Solid Waste Resources staff
•    Of those who received this information package, 95 per cent read the brochure and
75 per cent submitted their cart size selection cards and and an additional six per cent submitted online or by phone (of the remaining 25 per cent, 45 per cent of those were happy with the cart sizes to be supplied by the City)

Communications tactics and public outreach (July-October)

To reach and prepare all residents located in neighbourhoods scheduled to receive carts this fall, specifically the two percent who are unaware of the program and the 11 per cent who are unaware their carts will be delivered this fall, the following communications tactics will be employed starting this summer.
•    information  booths at community events and Stone Road Mall
•    cart displays throughout the city
•    presentations at neighbourhood groups and ward meetings
•    information sessions in each of the city’s four wards
•    guelph.ca/waste - FAQs, map of cart distribution, instructional video, user guide, collection schedule
•    Radio, print, online and Guelph Transit ads
•    Mobile signs
•    Messages and updates on City’s Facebook page and Twitter account
•    User guide/instruction manual delivered to homes with the carts
•    City staff quick facts
•    City staff training
•    Issue note (for internal use only) for Council
•    Media relations
•    Targeted communications to University of Guelph students

For more information residents should continue to be directed to http://guelph.ca/living.cfm?subCatID=886&smocid=1471 

or Solid Waste Resources at 519-767-0598.

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

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