Good morning neighbours! On Saturday March 23rd 2019, Ward 2 Councillors James Gordon and Rodrigo Goller hosted the second Ward 2 Town Hall of 2019. Thanks to all the community members who came out to speak up, listen and be part of the conversations. Below are the takeaways from that town hall. James and I really do listen to what you have to say.
Saturday March 23th Ward 2 Community Town Hall
Location: Evergreen Senior’s Community Centre, 683 Woolwich St, Guelph
Time: 1:30pm ~ 4:00pm
Attendance: 22 community members plus both Ward 2 Councillors
What Happened: On Saturday March 23rd, Councillors Goller and Gordon hosted their second Ward 2 Town Hall of 2019. Twenty two community members came out to have their say, ask questions and get updates from their Ward 2 Councillors.
The Town Hall began with a budget update, where Councillors Goller and Gordon presented highlights from the approved 2019 budget, including an outline of all newly approved staff positions.
2019 Budge Update
The 2019 City budget (including local boards) saw an increase of 2.66% over the previous year’s budget. This includes a 1% infrastructure levy. That means that year over year, the City will not only deliver the same level of service, but we added 13 new City and 6 new Police positions for a budget increase of 1.66% – This is commendable because the rate of inflation in Canada at the end of 2018 was 1.9%, so the City is maintaining and increasing municipal services for less than the cost of inflation.
New City Staff
- 8 Paramedic Services – serving Guelph and Wellington. This provides an additional 12-hour ambulance in Centre Wellington (4 Paramedics), and an additional paramedic on a first response vehicle in the City of Guelph, one additional supervisor to increase paramedic support, one admin support and a fleet support position.
- 1 Natural Area Stewardship Technologist – to design and deliver restoration projects and wildlife management initiatives without solely relying on consultants. It will support the growing demand for community driven solutions for natural areas stewardship.
- 1 Policy and Design Technician – to support updates to the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw reviews, community engagement and outreach activities, and the development of recommendations for the urban design guidelines.
- 1 Traffic Safety Analyst – to support the development and on-going implementation of a Road Safety Strategy for Guelph.
- 1 Strategic Sourcing Procurement Agent – to help the City make better purchasing decisions and save us money. This role will support procurement contracts, develop enhanced management reporting, assist departments with implementing more efficient and effective procurement practices and develop corporate procurement training for new employees.
- 1 Manager of Capital Strategy Long-term Planning – to lead strategic capital planning and provide complex capital financial support in the organization. This role will oversee corporate financial oversight and leadership for capital account management, capital variance reporting, reserve and reserve fund management, debt management and the integration of all these functions into a long-range funded capital plan.
New Police Staff
- 2 Court/Prisoner Transport Special Constables – Police services are required to do this work through legislation, so these positions will allow regular Police Officers currently providing Court supports, to do policing.
- 2 Sexual Assault & Child Abuse Officers – These roles will provide needed resources and expertise to support the most vulnerable members of our community.
- 1 Network Technician – City staff provide IT support to our Police Service. An in-house Network Technician will improve efficiency and make sure our officers have the technology support they need to do their work.
- 1 Frontline Officer – Along with the officers freed by hiring Court Services Support Officers, this third Police Officers will increase the capacity of our Police Service, that wen compared to other Police Services across Canada is still understaffed (in 2018 we had about 1 Police officer for every 700 Guelph residents, compared to the national average of 1 police officer for about every 500 residents).
Other, One Time 2019 Budget Highlights:
- $330,000 added to the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund
- $158,000 matching funds for a Rotary Trail in Ward 2, from Victoria Road to the Guelph Lake Nature Centre and Rotary Forest
- $61,200 towards an Addiction Courts Support Worker, to help get people out of addictions when they are most likely to make a life change
- $150,000 towards a Supportive Recovery Room, in partnership with Stonehenge Therapeutic Community, to help people who end up in the Emergency room due to addictions. This will reduce the number of people who come down off a high and get right back to the streets
- $91,200 for a second Downtown Street Support Worker. The first position started in 2018 and made a big difference in supporting people living in homelessness and with addictions downtown
- $2.7M for 5 new buses to be ordered in 2019 and received in 2020, and an additional $498,626 to fund 12 Transit Business Service Review Recommendations
Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw Review
After the brief budget update, Councillors Goller and Gordon gave an update and encouraged everyone in Ward 2 to participate in the Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw Review.
Our Zoning Bylaw lays out the detailed rules about where put things like builidings, homes, garages, yards, trees, driveways, etc. This includes the size and height of buildings, amount of green space, setback from roads, etc. City staff is currently asking for input and is writing a White Paper on our Zoning Bylaw this year. Next year, that White Paper will be presented, outlining what community members said, what other municipalities are doing and options to change the various sections of our Zoning Bylaw.
You can read more about this process and see a cool video in this post:
Discussions about Public Transit, Active Transportation and Traffic Calming
The second half of the Town Hall was devoted to conversations about resident’s experiences getting around town, be it by bus, bicycle, car or walking. These were the priorities and direction provided by participants:
- Since the City wants to increase ridership, it doesn’t make sense that children pay the same fare as adults ($3). That means that a mom with two children needs to pay $18 to go and come back from the Library.
- Kids under 12 should ride free. Young riders become life-long transit riders.
- The new Route Review needs to listen to drivers. The current routes don’t work, and the City is to blame because they have updated the routes in the past and haven’t listened to the people who drive the buses and talk to riders.
- Sunday 1 hour service from 9am to 6pm is nuts. Should have regular service on Sundays. However, 30 minute bus service doesn’t work because it takes many routes more than 30 minutes to go around. This means that buses are coming in just in time to drop people off, but then passengers don’t have enough time to walk to catch the next bus at the downtown Central Bus Station.
- How do we encourage people to use smaller baby strollers on buses? They use the priority wheelchair areas taking up several seats. Need to share the space.
- Bus bunching is a big problem on Gordon. That’s when traffic slows down a bus so much that one or two buses get behind on their schedule and then two or three buses show up at a stop at the same time.
- Timely Ice & Snow removal from bus stops is vital, so the ramp can be used. In February, it took over a week for the ice to be cleared from the bus stop near the Eramosa bridge.
- It’s always hard to find parking downtown. Should have paid parking meters so people can’t park there all day and customers could find parking spots near the shops they want to go to.
- People who park downtown should pay for downtown parking buildings and repairs. It doesn’t make sense that people who live and park outside the downtown core have to subsidize the building of new parkades. The new Wilson Parkade should charge $6 per hour!
- We shouldn’t build parking into the Baker Street development, to encourage people to use public transit. We should also require that half the residential portion be affordable housing units.
Traffic Calming & Road Safety
- Cars regularly run the red lights at Marilyn & Woolwich and Speedvale and Riverside. Red Light Cameras should be installed on both of those intersections.
- Transport trucks don’t obey the ‘no truck’ signs, day and night. Need better proactive enforcement and a well laid out network of truck routes.
- Need to have more of those Speed Radar signs with cameras that capture plates and speeds and give people tickets for speeding.
- Too many roads, such as Emma and Windsor are far too narrow for parking on both sides of the street. Both of these roads also have school buses, so we should remove parking from one side of the street. Also, stop making roads so narrow!
- We need more, regular Police Community Speed & Safety Enforcement.
- We need separated bike lanes to increase ridership. Painted on-street bike lanes are accidents waiting to happen.
- Our bike trails need to be better planned. We are quick to jump on band wagons without enough study. For example, garbage cans are put out in bike paths, and motorcycles also use those paths.
- Seen some electric scooters using on-street bike lanes. I also saw a crash involving a scooter and a car.
- Cracked pavement and potholes make it dangerous to ride bicycles.
- Bicycles should be licensed and the fees should go towards bicycling infrastructure like racks and signage.
- My kids have to ride their bicycles on the sidewalk because there aren’t bicycle lanes on every street.
- When I use my bicycle trailer I have to ride on the sidewalk because the painted bicycle lanes aren’t wide enough for bicycles with trailers.
- We need to change the culture so it’s friendlier to cyclists. We pay rent and property taxes just like anyone else, but we get much less municipal services than (car) drivers.
- The stone barriers on Speedvale Av. East are the ugliest things in Guelph. They are full of weeds, sometimes 2 feet high and seldom trimmed unless residents phone the parks department to cut them.
- Concern from neighbours living in Speedvale that they won’t be able to get out of their driveways after the divided turning lanes are put in at Metcalfe.
- The City should require developers to have the lowest possible environmental impact.
- Change the bylaw so rental units and accessory apartments don’t require parking spaces. At the same time, the City should not be held responsible for people who chose to live on homes without a parking space and then end up getting a car (or a second car), knowing they don’t have somewhere to park it.
- The Hanlon should continue north and connect to Highway 6 north of Guelph, without using Woodlawn (build a new highway connection).
Your Voice Matters! This is the next scheduled Ward 2 Town Hall Meeting:
- Saturday May 25th at 1:30pm, Waverley Public School, 140 Waverley Dr
Rodrigo GollerCity Councillor, Ward 2
City of Guelph