|December 10, 2022 Update from Councillor Rodrigo Goller
I hope this update finds you and yours well and healthy. Linzy and I had a bit of a scare over the last 2 weeks with our toddler getting sick twice and ending up at the Guelph General Hospital. Auggie came down with the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and pneumonia and ended up spending six nights at the hospital. He endured a lot of prodding, puffers, medicine and some needles but the good people at the Emergency and Pediatric departments took excellent care of him. Our toddler was discharged from the hospital Thursday morning and now Linzy and I are feeling the cold symptoms ourselves. Oh, the joys of having a toddler in preschool!
Now that we’re back home, I’m catching up with my emails and reaching out with this update. I apologize for not getting this out sooner! I had also intended to collaborate with Carly starting with this update, but it’s been a busy couple of weeks and I have not had a chance to connect with Carly on this newsletter… so you’re only getting my views and opinions today.
In this update:
December 6 – Land Use Workshop, Appointments & Planning Council Meeting
December 7 – Budget Education Session
December 11 – Last day to comment on Short Term Rentals Licensing
December 13 – Last Council Meeting of 2023
Single Use Plastics Survey – Answer before January 7
1) December 6 – Land Use Workshop, Appointments & Planning Council Meeting
Land Use Planning Workshop (3 pm) – This was a very helpful overview of the provincial legislation that creates the sandbox in which municipalities get to play. This very helpful overview covers how city planning works from Master Plans to minor variances. You can find the slide deck and video recording by clicking here.
Council and Public appointments to Committees, Local Boards, Agencies and Commissions (5:30 pm) – You can find a list of everyone who was appointed by City Council, by clicking here. I look forward to continuing to serve as a board member in our Public Health Unit and our Downtown BIA. I’m also very excited to join Carly and Leanne on the Guelph Public Library Board.
There were two changes to Councillor’s appointments. First, I moved a motion to increase the number of Councillors on the Guelph Public Library Board from 1 to 3. I felt this was important given the prominence of the new Main Branch library as part of the Baker Street redevelopment project, and looking down the road once the new Main Branch is built, for Council to have greater oversight of the Library’s operating budget. Richard Vivian of Guelph Today wrote an article about this motion.
The second change was adding a representative from Guelph City Council to Heritage Guelph. I was happy that this motion was also successful, and I look forward to seeing the impact of Cathy Downer joining Heritage Guelph.
Unfortunately, the list of Councillors appointed to boards isn’t included on the city website, so I’m sharing this list from my meeting notes – this way you know what extracurricular work each Councillor has taken on this term:
Service Area Chairs & Vice Chairs:
Audit – Chair: Phil Alt, Vice-Chair: Linda Busuttil
Corporate Services – Chair: Leanne Caron, Vice-Chair: Erin Caton
Infrastructure Development & Enterprise – Chair: Dominique O’Rourke, Vice-Chair: Carly Klassen
Public Services – Chair: Cathy Downer, Vice-Chair: Ken Chew
Agencies Boards & Commissions
Art Gallery of Guelph – Leanne Caron
Board of Trustees of the Elliott – Dominique O’Rourke
Downtown Guelph Business Association – Cathy Downer & Rodrigo Goller
Grand River Conservation Authority – Christine Billings & Ken Chew
Guelph Police Services – Cam Guthrie & Phil Alt
Guelph Public Library – Carly Klassen, Leanne Caron & Rodrigo Goller
Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health Unit – Linda Busuttil, Erin Caton & Rodrigo Goller
Heritage Guelph – Cathy Downer
Council Planning Meeting (6:30 pm) – There were no Ward 2 development applications this month. This is what we did:
639 Eramosa Road – this is the former Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. City Council approved a change in zoning for this lot to become a Chiropractic clinic.
158 Clair Road East – City Council approved drive-through signs for the Tim Hortons in this plaza.
265 Edinburgh Rd North – City Council approved two, seven-story mixed-use apartment buildings with 139 apartment units and first-level commercial space. These will be mostly 2 and 3-bedroom apartments.
140 Hadati Road – Council received a complete application for a proposed development of 24 stacked townhouses where there is presently a convenience store. Neighbours are concerned about the increased density (they looking for 50% more than the allowed density), the additional traffic, and overflow parking. You can find more information about this application here: https://guelph.ca/2022/09/140-hadati-road/
2) December 7 – Budget Education Session
This was an excellent session. City staff walked Council through the budget process, explained how it is aligned with the pillars of our strategic plan, and broke down where money and resources are allocated. You can access the staff presentation and video recording by clicking here. The staff presentation starts at the 12-minute mark and ends at 1 hour and 9 minutes. If you have an hour to spare in the coming weeks, I highly recommend watching this presentation.
Unlike previous years when Council would have approved a one-year budget, we are now in a multi-year budget cycle. City staff have been working on a significant review of the budget update that will be presented to the public on January 12, 2023.
We are starting with a forecasted tax levy increase of 5.17%. As the budget confirmation process gets underway I will be looking for opportunities to reduce that forecasted levy increase, while still addressing an important additional funding request that will be coming to City Council on December 13th.
Council and the public will see the staff-proposed 2023 budget on Thursday, January 12. Then we will have 14 days to review that budget and get ready for the 2023 budget confirmation session on January 25.
If you have any questions about the City budget, now is a great time to ask me, so I can in turn ask those questions of staff. I look forward to getting and responding to your email inquiries!
3) December 11 – Last day to comment on Short Term Rentals Licensing
The City is asking for community feedback on regulating short-term rentals. Please take a moment this weekend to answer the Short-Term Rental Survey: https://www.haveyoursay.guelph.ca/short-term-rentals/survey_tools/short-term-rentals-survey
The City is doing this so (a) we can collect the Municipal Accommodation Taxes from visitors who stay in from short-term rentals like AirBnB which are currently not regulated and (b) determine if short-term rentals should be limited to a person’s primary residence, or if the City should allow people to own multiple homes and apartments across the City and use those properties for short-term (under 30 days) rentals.
If you miss the deadline to comment or have additional thoughts on this matter, please reach out and let me know what your preference is for licensing short-term rentals in Guelph.
4) December 13 – Last Council Meeting of 2023
Alectra’s Proposal: The first item on the agenda is a request for Guelph City Council to endorse a plan by Alectra Utilities to build a battery energy storage system in the Hanlon Creek Business Park. Looking at that proposal, it looks like a positive for the City of Guelph to have a more stable energy network. Read more about it here.
Service Simplified Progress Report: implementing Guelph’s customer service strategy: As a growing City we have to reimagine how we deliver services and how we manage our interactions with the public. Today if you need to call the City, you can either try the central switchboard or if you’re calling outside regular business hours, you’d have to figure out which of the City’s 45 phone numbers to call or which of the City’s 35 emails to use, to reach any particular city service. This system is clunky and outdated. As well, coming out of the pandemic I am hearing repeated complaints about the level of service and information provided by City staff.
To address these issues and concerns, and to respond to a changing landscape and greater expectations, City staff are planning to focus on improving customer service processes, tools and technology. You can read the staff report and see the presentation slide deck here.
Royal City Mission Request for Funding: Earlier this year (in June/July), Guelph City Council asked Wellington County to address the matter of people experiencing homelessness in our downtown core. The County has since explored options and in partnership with Royal City Mission, they are bringing forward a request for funding, to meet a gap in service.
Guelph’s overnight shelters close at 8 am and Royal City Mission currently opens at noon. That means there is nowhere for street-involved people to go between 8 am and noon. Royal City Mission is asking Guelph City Council for $251k, which would allow the church to operate starting at 8 am throughout all of next year.
This is an expensive band-aid solution, but the best one we have to support both our residents experiencing homelessness as well as our downtown businesses. You can read more about this request by clicking here. I would love to hear your thoughts on this request for funding.
Service Rationalization Implementation Update: In 2021 the City performed a review of all City services. Our consultants identified 53 actions that could be taken by the municipality to either increase efficiencies or reduce costs. On November 25th, City staff provided a high-level overview of the progress to date, and this item has been pulled from those information reports so City Council can ask questions about it. You can find the report here.
5) Single Use Plastics Survey – Click here to answer before January 7
The City is proposing fees for single-use disposable cups and reusable bags, to help minimize the number of cups and bags that end up in the landfill and to ensure that reusable bags are reused as intended. They would like your feedback on the idea of mandatory fees for reusable shopping bags and disposable beverage cups.
Once the City has collected feedback from businesses and the community, they will present a summary to Council in the spring of 2023. If Council approves a fee, the changes will take effect in 2024.
That’s it for this update. Almost. Given our toddler’s recent stay at the Guelph General Hospital, I’d like to remind you that Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health has recommended masking and COVID and flu vaccination. Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters are available at public health clinics. Anyone age 12+ who has completed their primary series can receive the bivalent booster. You can book an appointment online (https://wdgpublichealth.inputhealth.com/ebooking#new) or call 1-800-265-7293 ext. 7006. You can also contact your family doctor or visit a participating pharmacy.
As always, please let me know if you have questions, thoughts or feedback about any of the items in this update, or any other municipal issue. In case we don’t connect before the new year, I hope you enjoy a safe & happy holiday season!
City Councillor, Ward 2
City of Guelph