|I hope this update finds you and your loved ones in good health. I’ve got a few updates I’d like to share.
These updates are getting a bit longer – that reflects that Guelph City Council will be entering a ‘lame duck’ period starting August 19th, so City staff are front-loading this year’s meeting agendas. The Ontario Municipal Act restricts the decisions any Council can make whenever more than 1/4 of Councillors decide to not run for re-election. Click here for an article on Guelph today that talks about this restricted period for Guelph City Council between August 19 and November 15.
In this update:
• June 7 – Committee of the Whole Meeting UpdateJune
• 8 – Open House on the Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Study and Plan for the Ontario Reformatory District @ 6:30pm (last chance to sign up!)
• June 12 – Have Your Say on new Bus Stop Information Signs (survey)
• June 13 – Council Planning Meeting and Approval of the Official Plan Amendment for the Emma to Earl Bridge
• City & Community Events:
– June 10 – ‘Seriously? Seniors?’ event at the Evergreen Seniors Community Centre
– June 10 & 11 – Splash pads and waddling pools open across Guelph
– June 10 to 12 – 36th Annual Multicultural Festival at Riverside Park
– June 21 – National Celebration of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples event at Riverside Park
– July 4 – City summer camps start – registration is now open!
– Fridays in June & July – Noon Hour Concerts downtown Guelph!
• Municipal Election Update
• Poverty, Addictions and Community Safety
|1. June 7 – Committee of the Whole Meeting Update
At yesterday’s Committee of the Whole meeting Council gave direction as follows:
a) To receive the Consolidated Financial Statements and External Audit Findings Report – which assessed the City’s financial health.
Overall, the City is in a stable financial situation, and the audit did not find any irregularities in the City’s books. Of concern, we are seeing lower returns on the City’s investments and more people are behind in their taxes. This staff presentation provides a high level overview of the City’s financial statements. You can find all the other reports in section 5.1 of the meeting agenda.
In a related matter, we just got news that the City’s credit rating has been upgraded to AAA, the highest rating available to a municipality. Read more about this here.
b) For Guelph to be Certified as a Bird Friendly City,
There are a number of actions the City will take to earn this certification, all of which will improve the safety of birds in Guelph. These actions fall in three main categories:.Reducing human-related threats to birds;Habitat protection, restoration and climate resiliency; andCommunity outreach and education.
c) To approve the Water Supply Master Plan Update and the Wastewater Treatment and Biosolids Management Master Plan Update.
As Guelph continues to grow, we need to improve our waste water treatment facility, add more wells and continue to work on promotion and education around water conservation. The respective plans identify the work that needs to be done on the short, medium and long terms. Individual projects will be coming back to Council for approval as part of our regular multi-year budgeting process.
d) To approve a Taxicab Rate Increase of approximately 6.7%.
Did you know that taxi rates have not increased in Guelph since 2010? Council supported this joint request from representatives of both of our local taxi companies.
As with all Committee of the Whole meetings, Council’s directions will be coming back for final approval on Monday June 27. If you are interested in any of these issues, please let me know. You can submit comments or register to speak as a delegate by emailing [email protected] before Friday June 24 at 10am.
|2. June 8 – Open House on the Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Study and Plan for the Ontario Reformatory District (last chance to sign up!)
In case you missed it in my last newsletter, today the City is hosting the first Open House for the Heritage Conservation District study for the former reformatory lands. That’s happening at 6:30pm on zoom.
The end result of this project will be to have guidelines for managing the development of these lands in ways that preserve and highlight the distinctive character of the area.
You can get more information about the project here, or you can click here to go straight to the Virtual Open House registration.
|3. June 12 – Have Your Say on Public Transit Stop Real Time Information Signs
As part of the modernization of our public transit system, select bus stops will be getting electronic displays that provide real-time information about bus routes and arrival times.
Until this Sunday, the City is collecting public feedback on your needs for real-time bus arrival information at busy transit hubs and stops.
We want to hear your thoughts and suggestions in this survey:
|4. June 13 – Council Planning Meeting
There are two items in this meeting (see full agenda here) that I want to bring to your attention.
a) Staff recommend refusal of an application to change the zoning of 12 Poole Street from “Low Density Greenfield Residential” to “High Density Residential”.
Planning staff are recommending that Council refuse an application for zoning changes to our Official Plan, which would allow the property at 12 Poole Street (which will cross Decorso Drive, off Victoria Road South), to have a 10 story building and 4 story stacked townhouses. This neighbourhood is currently listed as low density residential in our official plan, and the proposed increased density would have several negative impacts on our current and future residents.
This is a good example of a developer attempting to re-write our official plan to the detriment of our community. I am happy to see that planning staff have recommended that Council refuse this application. For all the document on this application, please refer to section 2.2 in the agenda. Of interest is the 11 page report outlining why staff are recommending that Council refuse this application.
b) Decision Report on the Official Plan Amendment to allow for a Pedestrian Bridge connecting Earl and Emma streets across the Speed River.
In September 2020 Council voted to approve changes to our Official Plan, allowing a pedestrian and cyclist bridge to be built across the Speed river, connecting Emma and Earl streets.
|During the 30 day commenting period after this decision by Council, some concerns were raised by community members about the process that led to the staff recommendation to build this pedestrian/cyclist bridge.
In reviewing those objections, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks directed the City of Guelph to do some additional work to engage first nations communities and to provide supplementary information on the environmental protections needed for this project.
Over the last 2 years City staff hosted the necessary consultations with first nations communities, and satisfied the other requirements from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Next week on Monday June 13th, the decision to accept the necessary changes to our official plan will come back for Council approval. If approved, this would allow the City start the detailed design and then build the pedestrian/cyclist bridge. Here is the staff report, which provides a good outline of the project.
This project has been divisive, with many community members speaking against the need and expense of building this bridge, while other community members support it because of the improved connectivity it would create. Many are comparing it to the well used pedestrian bridge on Norwich Street, and City staff see the Emma to Earl bridge as an essential connector in our active transportation network.
Let me know if you have questions or concerns about either of these projects. If you wish to submit comments or sign up as a delegate for this meeting, you must email [email protected] before 10am this Friday June 10.
|5. City and Community Events:June 8 – Free Bus Rides to celebrate Clean Air DayJune 10 – ‘Seriously? Seniors?’ event hosted by the Guelph Wellington Senior’s Association at the Evergreen Seniors Community Centre. It will include:Various demonstrations ranging from line-dancing to pickleball,Afternoon concert,Raffle and a 50/50 draw,Meet and greet with the Guelph Wellington Senior’s Association board of directors,Euchre tournament, andUsed book sale.June 10 & 11 – Splash pads open across the City daily from 10am to 7pm, starting on Friday June 10. Here’s a map with all the splash pads in Guelph. The waddling pools at Exhibition and Sunny Acres parks will open on Saturday June 11, and the Market Square waddling pool will open a week later on June 18.June 10 to 12 – 36th Annual Multicultural Festival at Riverside Park. I’m excited to bring my toddler to his first large community festival this weekend! If you haven’t been to the multicultural festival, it’s worth a visit.June 21 – National Celebration of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples event, 5:30pm to 8:30pm at Riverside ParkJuly 4 – Summer Camps start! Registration is now open, and there are spots left. Find our more at recenroll.caFridays in June and July – Noon Hour Concert Series at St Georges’ Square, hosted by the Downtown Guelph Business Association.
|6. Municipal Election Update
The next Municipal Election is coming up in October. I registered to run for re-election a few weeks ago, and now that the provincial election is settled, I’ll start keeping you posted on what’s happening for the municipal election.
– August 19 at 2pm – Last day to register as a candidate
– October 8-10 and 14-16 – Advance voting locations open
– October 24 – Election Date
– November 15 – New Council and new Ward boundaries
New Ward Boundaries
Please note that candidates will be campaigning in their ‘new’ wards. This is particularly important for Wards 1 and 2, as there has been a substantial change in both.
|The new Ward 2 (shown in green on the map on the right) will be contained by the Eramosa River, Gordon/Norfolk/Woolwich Streets and Victoria Road. The new Ward 1 (shown in light blue on the map on the right) will be everything on the North/East side of Victoria Road.
You can find more voter information here:
Here’s the list of registered candidates:
If you or anyone you know is thinking of running for Council, I’m happy to speak with you/them. This job is not easy, but it can be a very good way to contribute to our community.
So far, four Councillors have declared that they will not be seeking re-election, so there will be a more level playing field for anyone thinking of running for City Council this year.
Candidates who have announced they will not be running for re-election:
Ward 1 – Bob Bell
Ward 2 – James Gordon
Ward 3 – June Hofland
Ward 4 – Mike Salisbury
|7. Poverty, Addictions and Community Safety
Over the last couple of months, I have been hearing renewed concerns about encampments along our rivers and people experiencing homelessness and suffering from addictions in Guelph.
Now that I’m on the board of the Downtown Guelph Business Association, I’m also hearing concerns from merchants and downtown residents about these issues of poverty, addictions and community safety.
I spoke with Police Chief Cobey recently, raising these concerns to his attention. He let me know that a lot of these issues are not something that Police can realistically solve. For example, Police don’t have the tools to adequately solve the problem of people using drugs in our parks or the downtown. Sure, Police can and do detain individuals, but they just end up back in our streets, because we don’t have the necessary supports to house and rehabilitate those community members.
Chief Cobey let me know that he discussed the presence of Police officers in Downtown Guelph and the issues they are dealing at the last Police Services Board meeting. I found that meeting informative and if you are concerned about these issues, I recommend watching this 15 minute conversation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKLdgKi3cUk&t=690s (the link is already cued to the part of the meeting where Chief Cobey speaks to downtown resource officers).
If you’re interested in this month’s Police Services Board meeting to see the presentation from the downtown resource officer, you can find that meeting’s agenda and date/time by clicking here.
Part of the problem is that we lack a shared response to tackle these issues on the long-term. The province is responsible for poverty elimination and mental health. Wellington County is our Social Services and public housing provider. The City of Guelph is responsible for emergency responders and Police services.
We have been making some ground on different fronts:
Permanent Supportive Housing Projects
During this term of Council we approved permanent supportive housing to be built at Grace Gardens (the former Parkview Motel), at Shelldale Crescent and at 65 Delhi Street. These projects have not yet been completed, but once they open, we will have about 64 Permanent Supportive Housing units and another 28 Transitional Housing units in Guelph.
Home for Good Campaign
Earlier this year the Guelph Poverty Elimination Task Force, the Guelph Community Foundation and the United Way announced a fundraising campaign to collect $5M towards solving homelessness.
Find more information about this project here: https://homeforgoodgw.ca/
Additional funding for Affordable Housing
Last month Guelph City Council moved another $500k to our affordable housing reserve, to support future supportive and affordable housing projects.
I would love to hear from you on these issues.
What do you see as possible solutions to end poverty, homelessness and addictions in Guelph? Are these issues that impact you or your neighbourhood? What do you want your municipal elected officials to do about this?
I have joined the Mayor’s Taskforce on Homelessness and Community Safety, and will continue to speak with residents to better understand what role our municipality can have in helping to create a solution.
|Thanks for your continued interest in our city. Please feel free to share these newsletters with anyone in Guelph who might be interested in them.
And please reach out and let me know what municipal issues you are most concerned about.
I look forward to seeing you our and about this weekend!