June 28 Ward 2 Update

Good evening Neighbour,

I hope this update finds you well. We held our end of month Council meeting yesterday, so I’m reaching out today with an update on what happened in June and what Council is up to in July, 2022. July is a pretty busy month, as Council gets ready for a slower August and September in advance of the October 24, 2022 municipal elections.

In case you haven’t had a chance to see who’s running for Council in your ward, you can click here to see the registered candidates, and you can also click here to see the new Ward boundary maps which come into effect when the new term of Council starts on November 15th.

 

In this update:

  1. Highlights of the June 27, 2022 Council Meeting
    • Downtown Guelph Central District Energy has been sold to Cascara Energy 
    • Guelph to be certified as a Bird Friendly City
    • Taxi Cab Rate Increase of 6.7% was approved
    • Application to change from ‘Low Density to ‘High Density’ residential zoning at 12 Poole Street was refused
    • Official Plan Amendment to allow Emma to Earl Pedestrian Bridge was approved
    • Edinburgh Road Level Rail Crossing – direction given for enhanced public engagement
    • Cities Race-to-Zero Four-Year Interim Targets presentation
  2. Climate Adaptation Plan Project Kick Off!
  3. Committee of the Whole – July 4 at 1:30pm
    • Paramedic Service Response Performance
    •  Urgent Issues Related to Homelessness, Mental Health and Addictions
  4. Ward 2 Town Hall to discuss Armtec Property Zoning Designation – July 5 at 7pm 
  5. Official Plan Review – July 11 at 1pm
  6. Council Planning Meeting – July 11 at 6pm
    • 93 Arthur Street Zoning Bylaw Amendment
  7. Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw Review – July 13 at 6pm 
  8. Community Benefit Charge & Parkland Dedication By-law – July 18 at 6pm
  9. Help out during the 2022 Municipal Election!
 

Highlights of the June 27, 2022 Council Meeting

Yesterday’s Council meetings started at 4pm and concluded at 11pm. We covered a lot of issues, and I am only including highlights which I think you’ll find interesting/relevant.  If you’d like to dig a little deeper, you can find all Council agendas and minutes here: https://guelph.ca/city-hall/mayor-and-council/city-council/agendas-and-minutes/

a) Downtown Guelph Central District Energy has been sold to Cascara Energy 

In 2013 the City of Guelph embarked on an ambitious project to create a Central District Energy node in our downtown core. You can find out more about District Energy systems here. Our downtown District Energy system currently provides heating and cooling to the Sleeman Centre and River Mill Condominiums.

Two years after it was launched, Council realized that this system was underperforming, and in 2019, we gave direction to sell this asset to an operator who had the ability to continue expanding Guelph’s downtown Central District Energy. Yesterday afternoon the sale was finalized. I look forward to the investment Cascara will bring to our downtown and the future growth our our downtown District Energy system.

For more information, you can find the media release here: https://guelph.ca/2022/06/downtown-district-energy-system-sold-to-community-energy-innovator/

 b) Guelph to be certified as a Bird Friendly City

Council gave direction for the City to pursue certification as a Bird Friendly City. This mainly requires a number of actions to be taken at the municipal level to make Guelph a better place for birds. Click here for the staff presentation that lists the Threat Reduction and Habitat Protection actions the City will be undertaking

c) Taxi Cab Rate Increase of 6.7% was approved

Earlier this month Council learned that taxi cab fares had not increased in Guelph since 2010.  Both taxi cab operators requested this modest increase to help them manage the increased cost of operating taxis in Guelph, and Council approved this fare increase.

d) Application to change from ‘Low Density to ‘High Density’ residential zoning at 12 Poole Street was refused

Council refused the application for zoning changes to our Official Plan, which would have allowed 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 in what is designated as a low density residential neighbourhood.  I was happy to see our planning team recommend this refusal, which was unanimously supported by City Council.

e) Official Plan Amendment to allow Emma to Earl Pedestrian Bridge was approved

This was a difficult decision to make. I heard overwhelming support in favour of this project, and it is an essential connection for our active transportation and recreation trail networks. However, I also heard from some residents in the area who did not want to see this project move forward, due to concerns about the cost of this project, the impact to the environment and the potential for increased crime in the area.

After some discussion, and having received confirmation from City staff that through the design and build of this bridge, the natural river system would be protected, Council voted unanimously to approve this Official Plan amendment. This allows City staff to begin working on the detailed design  of the bridge. Constructions is expected to happen in 2023.

This bridge will be built in advance of the Speedvale road bridge replacement, so it can also act as an alternate pedestrian and cycling connector while the Speedvale bridge construction is underway. Moving forward, I will be advocating for crime prevention through environmental design to be an integral consideration in the design of the Emma to Earl bridge and the adjoining connections to Earl and Emma streets.

You can click here to see the staff recommendation and the public emails in support and against this project.

f) Edinburgh Road Level Rail Crossing – direction given for enhanced public engagement

Metrolinx is bringing two-way all-day rail service on the Kitchener GO rail line as part of its 2041 Regional Transportation Plan. This will increase the frequency and speed of GO trains, which may require changes at several road-level rail crossings in Guelph to meet safety regulations and current design standards in accordance with Transport Canada’s Railway Safety Act. As the City is responsible for maintaining our roads and we are required to make the necessary changes to meet the Railway Safety, Act, the City hired a consultant to do a study of all the rail crossings in Guelph which would support two-way-all-day rail service.

A technical memo produced as part of that study, preliminarily identified that  an underpass may be required on Edinburgh, Yorkshire, Glasgow and Dublin Streets. These underpasses, if implemented, would also require that several homes on those streets be expropriated, and that neighbourhoods be divided by these road underpasses. Click here for that technical report.

As you can imagine, neighbours were quite concerned, particularly those whose homes were red-lined in that technical memo. Part of this concern arose from the way they found out that their properties were being included in that technical memo, and by thinking this may have been a done deal. At this point City staff are just going through the process of exploring all options, and the next step is to carry out an Environmental Assessment Study, which is a provincial requirement whenever major projects like this are undertaken.

Listening to concerns from community members, Council gave direction for City staff to do additional public engagement to inform the problem statement, which will guide the Environmental Assessment Study process. Once that problem statement has been defined, an Environmental Assessment Study will be carried out, which will explore all options, including doing nothing, having level rail crossings, and implementing road underpasses. There will be multiple opportunities for the public to have their say in this process.

Here’s the City’s page on the Rail Crossing Study.

g) Cities Race-to-Zero Four-Year Interim Targets presentation

Last week the City hosted a presentation from a respected planner, Brent Toderian. You can watch the replay of the event on YouTube. As part of that provocative presentation Brent said that Guelph is ‘not as green’ as we think we are, and he asserted that Guelph is not on track to meet our goal of 63% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Council members have since received several messages from concerned residents and community groups, some of whom claimed that Council is “blatantly” ignoring 97% of the climate change pollution in the city.

Part of this confusion is caused by the fact that the City of Guelph can only directly control our municipal buildings and vehicles. City employees can not go into your home and turn off your lights, lower your water heater temperature, or change your air conditioner settings. For that reason, the City’s four year interim report focuses on what the municipality can directly influence, which accounts for about 3% of our whole community’s greenhouse gas emissions. We are in fact, on track to reach a 63% reduction in the Corporation of the City of Guelph’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. 

That still leaves the matter that the City only makes up 3% of the total emissions for the wider community Guelph.

In the next few weeks, the City will finish negotiating an agreement with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which will enable us to start delivering a Property Assessed Clean Energy Program, by which home owners can borrow money from the municipality to do residential energy retrofits, and that loan would be repaid as part of your property tax payments. This is a key way in which the City will support residents to lower our carbon footprint.

There are other measures which City Council can take to support the reduction of GHG emissions in our community, including prioritizing the build-out of our public transit system, building our active transportation network faster and increasing the rate at which we are growing our tree canopy. After this fall’s election, the new Council will have an opportunity to prioritize those projects as part of the Strategic Plan prioritization that will be done at the beginning of that term of Council, and to increase funding those projects through the multi-year budget process.

I would love to hear from you. How would you prefer Guelph City Council to balance keeping property taxes low and increase our efforts to reduce carbon emissions in our community? Should Council bite the bullet and build out our 10 year active transportation network and public transit system plans in the next couple of years? Would you prefer to see this funded through reductions in other levels of service, or via property tax increases?

Thank you in advance for any advice or suggestions you can provide as to how myself and other Councillors can best approach these problems. 

 

Climate Adaptation Plan Project Kick Off!

In keeping with the last item, I’m happy to share that the City is developing a Climate Adaptation Plan (CAP) that will outline how the City will adapt its policies and plans, assets, operations, and services to the impacts of climate change, to build a more adaptive and resilient community. 

The City recently hired a team of consultants led by Matrix Solutions Inc., who will develop the plan between now and mid 2023, according to the following project stages: 

  • Stage 1: Scoping and planning – development of vision, goals, and scope
  • Stage 2: Strategic context review – collection of background material
  • Stage 3: Risk and vulnerability assessment – assessment of climate risks
  • Stage 4: Actions and plan development – development and prioritization of actions, implementation planning and monitoring

 After the CAP is developed, reviewed by key audiences, and approved by Council, the plan will serve as a comprehensive document that outlines all existing and planned adaptation actions and a single, unified approach to climate adaptation across the City.

As this is primarily an internal document that will guide the actions of the Corporation of the City of Guelph, key community groups (i.e., Grand River Conservation Authority, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, University of Guelph) will be engaged throughout process, and public engagement will be limited to an open house during stage 4 of this project.

Click here for more information on the Climate Adaptation Plan.

This project is very important and I will be asking for regular updates from City staff during each stage of this project. I would love to hear from you if you have any questions, suggestions or advice which the City should consider as we embark on the development of this Climate Adaptation Plan.

 

Committee of the Whole – July 4 at 1:30pm

There are two items in this meeting which I would like to highlight. For the full agenda, please click here.

Paramedic Service Response Performance

This report reports on the performance for our Guelph Wellington Paramedic Service for 2021. I am concerned about the pressures  from increased call volumes, the ongoing pandemic, and the relatively new pressure of hospital offload delays. In 2021, our paramedics cared for patients in offload delay for more than 4,900 hours. This includes a dramatic increase in delays lasting greater than 90 minutes, increased by over 300% from 2020.

As part of this report, the paramedic service is asking Council to advocate to the Minister of Health expressing concerns over the Ambulance Offloading Delays at hospitals throughout the Province, and the need for more funding and solutions to alleviate the delays.

Click here for the staff report.

Urgent Issues Related to Homelessness, Mental Health and Addictions

At the end of last year I joined the Downtown Guelph Business Association (DGBA) board, and began to hear more about how homelessness, mental health, addictions and poverty are impacting downtown merchants and residents. Earlier this month I heard from some Ward 2 constituents, alerting me to the recent increase of encampments along the Speedvale River. Since then, I have been learning about the current state of homelessness, poverty and addictions in our city. I have also had conversations with service providers (Canadian Mental Health Association, Poverty Elimination Taskforce, The Grove Youth Hubs, Royal City Mission), the Police Chief, the downtown resource officer, and the Mayor. As of last week I also joined the Mayor’s Taskforce on Homelessness and Community Safety.  In short, I take these issues quite seriously. 

In response to the increased number of Guelph community members experiencing homelessness, mental health issues, poverty and addictions, and due to the insufficient accountability to Guelph residents, at the July 4th Committee of the Whole, Mayor Guthrie is bringing forward the following motions, which I will be seconding:

  1. That City Council respectfully requests quarterly updates from the County on the provision of social services with a focus on homelessness, addiction and mental health issues, including performance reporting and key performance indicators.
  2. That City Council endorse the Ontario’s Big City Mayors call for “an emergency meeting with the Province to address the chronic homelessness, mental health, safety, and addictions crisis” in our communities.
  3. That City Council advocate to the Province in support of immediately raising Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program social assistance rates above the poverty line.
  4. That City Council urgently requests Wellington County Council to call an emergency meeting to hear from and respond to community social service providers with respect to urgent needs related to homelessness, mental health and addiction issues.
  5. That City Council respectfully requests that Wellington County work alongside the City of Guelph and other stakeholders to identify any gaps in the existing shelter system with the goal of 24 hour shelter coverage in the City of Guelph and report back by August 2022 with a plan to achieve 24 hour coverage.
  6. That City Council endorse a new sub-committee, Strategic Advisory Group on Downtown Issues, of the Mayor’s Taskforce on Homelessness and Community Safety and under the direction of the CAO, that a member of City staff sit on the advisory group for general awareness.

The goal of these motions is for Guelph and Wellington County to start treating homelessness, poverty and addictions like the crisis it is. Unfortunately many people are still unaware of these growing problems in our community, so the motions being brought forward on July 4th are designed to increase the level of community awareness of these issues.

I encourage you to consider either writing an email to clerks@guelph.ca no later than 10am this Friday July 1st, or to register to speak at the council meeting by that same deadline.

Please also take a moment to share this invitation/encouragement with any of your neighbours who are impacted by homelessness, mental health issues, addictions and poverty in our community. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions about these issues, please let me know.

 

You’re invited to join a community conversation with Councillors Leanne Caron, James Gordon & myself, to discuss the City’s Official Plan’s High Density Residential Zoning designation for the property located at 41-45 George Street, Guelph.

This conversation is being held in advance of the City Council meeting on July 11, where Council will be presented with an Official Plan Amendment for approval. The agenda for the July 11 Council Meeting will be posted on the City’s website (guelph.ca/agenda) by the end of the day this Thursday June 30th.

How to join this Virtual Town Hall:
Click Here to join via your desktop or mobile device, or call 226-770-4395, and enter meeting code 776579687. Please note that the meeting will be recorded, and that recording will be posted in the Ward 2 website.

You can find more information about the City’s Official Plan Review here (https://guelph.ca/plans-and-strategies/official-plan/official-plan-review-2020-2022/). You can also click here to access the draft Official Plan document. On Page 133 of this document, you will see that this property is designated as High Density Residential.

Background: Earlier this year, several Guelph residents in the vicinity of this property expressed concerns about the future high density designation for what is currently an industrial property located between the Speed river and a low density residential neighbourhood.

Since then, council members have asked the City’s planning team to consider updating the zoning designation of this property, so it better fits with the protected river corridor and the surrounding low density residential neighbourhood.

After reviewing the zoning designation for this property, the City’s planning team will not be supporting a change in zoning for this property. The staff report for the July 11 meeting will outline the rationale for the City’s planning team’s support of the current High Density Zoning designation for this property.

That report will be available at guelph.ca/agenda by the end of the day this Thursday June 30th.

This community conversation will be held on Tuesday July 5 at 7pm, for community members and Councillors to consider the planning team’s position and explore next steps.

 

Official Plan Review – July 11 at 1pm

In this meeting Council will be presented with the final Shaping Guelph growth management strategy and associated Official Plan Amendment for approval. This is the culmination of two year’s work which the City must do to ensure we comply with provincial mandates, including accommodating a population of 203,000 and 116,000 jobs by 2051.

For more information about Shaping Guelph, please visit: https://guelph.ca/plans-and-strategies/guelphs-growth-management-strategy/

For more information on the official plan update process, please visit: https://guelph.ca/plans-and-strategies/official-plan/official-plan-review-2020-2022/

The agenda for the July 11th meeting will be available here (http://guelph.ca/agenda) by end of day this Thursday June 30th.

To delegate or submit comments, please send an email to clerks@guelph.ca later than 10:00 a.m. on Friday July 8.

 

Council Planning Meeting – July 11 at 6pm

There was one item I wanted to bring to your attention in this Planning Meeting. Staff will bring forward an application for a Zoning By-law Amendment to permit the development of a 14 storey apartment building and two ground floor commercial units located at 93 Arthur Street. This is one of the Metalworks buildings.

The agenda for this meeting will available here (http://guelph.ca/agenda) by end of day this Thursday June 30th. To register as a delegate or to submit comments, please send an email to clerks@guelph.ca no later than Friday July 8 at 10am.

 

Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw Review – July 13 at 6pm

At this meeting City staff will present a final draft of the Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw. This is the final opportunity for the public and staff to provide feedback on the Zoning Bylaw before staff present a final version for Council’s approval at the end of this year or early next year.

Zoning regulations dictate what we can do with our properties, including the height and mass of buildings, where they can be located on properties, how much green space must be preserved, setbacks from property lines, which way buildings must face, fence locations and heights, and much more, including how shipping containers may or may not be used in commercial and industrial properties. Click here for a great short video (on YouTube) explaining zoning.

The agenda for this meeting will available here (http://guelph.ca/agenda) by end of day this Thursday June 30th. To register as a delegate or to submit comments, please send an email to clerks@guelph.ca no later than Friday July 8 at 10am.

 

Community Benefit Charge & Parkland Dedication By-law – July 18 at 6pm

The province changed how municipalities can we can collect development charges. Some costs were separated into ‘Community Benefit Charges’, and in order for the City to be able to collect those fees, we must have new bylaws in place by the beginning of September this year.

When these new Parkland Dedication and Community Benefit Charge bylaws came to Council earlier this year, community members raised concerns that the City was not collecting the full amounts allowable under provincial legislation. This was concerning because we are not on track to meet our Official Plan targets for parkland. We are currently providing parkland at rate of 3.1 hectares per 1000 people, which is lower than the target of 3.3 hectares per 1000 people set in 2009.

It’s important to note that the majority of parkland is obtained via the Subdivision approval process. The image below shows the charges collected for parkland from low and medium density residential properties:

The subdivision parkland rates account for the vast majority of the parkland the City collects.

In contrast, the Parkland Dedication bylaw only applies to building permits and accounts for about 5% of the total parkland the City collects:

At this meeting on July 18th I will be moving a motion directing staff to investigate and engage the public and the development community, on increasing the current caps on parkland dedication.

The updated bylaw will see the City collecting (as indicated above), 1 hectare of land for every 300 units (or 500 units in the downtown) or the value of 1 hectare of land for every 500 units, with a cap of up to 30% of the value of the land for high density residential developments (and that cap goes down to 20% of the value of the property for high density residential developments in the downtown).

The purpose of those caps are to incentivize the development of higher density buildings. However, that happens at the cost of getting less parkland dedication.

I want the City to explore increasing or altogether eliminating those caps, so we can understand how much additional parkland the City could be receiving, and what the impacts would be on future high density residential developments in Guelph.

 

Help out during the 2022 Municipal Election

Do you know someone who wants to get paid to help at a voting poll in October?

The City is getting ready for the 2022 Municipal Election coming in October and we have job opportunities for you. Are you interested in municipal matters? Want to see democracy in action? Then why not work during the election?

We need to hire over 300 people to work at voting locations across Guelph and we hope you’ll be one of them.

You can work the advance polls between October 8-10 and 14-16 and/or Election Day on October 24.

Work at a Guelph voting location
The following positions are available at each poll:

  • Managing Officer – the leader in the voting location ($400 per day)
  • Revision/Ballot Officer – change voter’s information as needed, verify voter’s information and hand out ballots ($300 per day)
  • Tabulator Officer – support voters in casting their ballot ($225 per day)
  • Information Officer – the first happy face voters see. ($225 per day)

All positions are paid a flat rate per day as noted above, which includes training sessions. On average you will work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for a total of 12 hours per day. Fill out the poll application today.

Why work the election?

  • It’s an important part of the democratic process
  • It’s a professional development opportunity
  • It’s a great way to work with the Guelph community


What experience do I need?
We’re looking for people who have experience working with technology and computers. If you’ve never worked an election before we’ll provide training in September and October to ensure everyone has everything they need. In addition, City Clerk’s Office staff will be ready to support you on voting days.

For more information, please contact the City Clerk, Mr. Stephen O’Brien at 519-822-1260 extension 5644 or via email to stephen.obrien@guelph.ca

 

That’s it for this update. I hope you find this newsletter helpful. Please take a moment to send me a quick note and let me know if there are any other municipal issues you are concerned about, or if you would like to talk about any of the topics coming up in July.

In particular I would love to hear what your thoughts are about what we, as a community, could or should be doing to support our community members experiencing homelessness, mental health issues, poverty and addictions.

I hope you have a great week ahead!

Kind regards,

Rodrigo

Rodrigo Goller 
City Councillor, Ward 2
City of Guelph
226-821-1146
Rodrigo.Goller@Guelph.caward2guelph.ca
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