"Revitalization" Project in St. George's Square?

A resident’s perspective.

My name is SS, and I have been a content citizen of Guelph for well over twenty years. I have had the pleasure of attending all of my primary and secondary education, as well as my post-secondary education in this fine city. I have served hours of service to the community, in order to be a productive and supportive member of the people I have come to identify with over my years here. And though work often calls me far from the borders of the city, I return home every night secure in the fact that the city is in safe hands of the elected officials.

So, I hope you can imagine how surprised I was, and shocked, to see on the CTV news this evening that there is a plan in progress to further modify the downtown core into something that resembles either a home and garden patio photo gone wrong, or the furthest it can possibly be in the allotted footprint from the historical maze that we’ve all inherited.

Now, I have been peaceful despite the renovation of City Hall, which I find a sleek, modern appearing building that seems somewhat at odds with its surroundings, the transformation of what was considered prime market space in a core that is otherwise dominated with bars that is the Sleemans Center, and the closure of what once was key traffic paths to and from the Via station and bus stations. I kept quiet because I could, somehow, rationalize how they could serve the community as a whole, even if I didn’t particularly agree with the choices and expenditures that were being made.

You will pardon me, then, for expressing myself to those that I consider mature, responsible, fiscal adults. I appreciate that there currently fewer people coming into the downtown core now that you have removed the city bus hub, however, I fail to understand how you expect the complete impediment of traffic of a vehicular kind to be a good thing for the local economy, or even for use of the space. Perhaps you don’t want vehicular traffic at all downtown. Certainly there are times when such is an accident waiting to happen (ie. any given Friday or Saturday night during the school year), however, with recent news of Macondo Books (your neighbour) is closing up shop due to much lower foot traffic, I would be interested in your explanation of how this could be considered a “revitalization” project.

Now, I will admit this. My consternation is based off of the image the news provided me. Perhaps you don’t intend to tear up the roads, the fountain, the patio in front of the few businesses that don’t cater to those choosing to imbibe in their hours of liberty… but then, how do you expect to redirect traffic sufficiently to achieve this “relief”? Perhaps you don’t like the look of the existing downtown. I can understand, in light of the modernization that you’ve undertaken so far on behalf of the entire population of Guelph. However, I disagree that this achieves a net benefit.

Now that I have expressed myself, I would ask that this project be strongly reconsidered if this is the decided path forwards. If you have specific financial or economic gains that you intend to tote with this plan, I would ask you open these up for public and my scrutiny. I have trusted you until now, please do not undermine this trust further by ruining a semi-functional space by turning it into a simple showpiece that serves no purpose whatsoever.SS