I don’t like long blog posts. Yet this issue deserves a lengthy one so please stay with me.

I’ll start with what I’m hearing from the public:

1. When Silvercreek went down to one lane in each direction – It was a mistake.

2. When Woodlawn Rd became one lane in each direction from Victoria to Country Club Dr – It was a huge mistake.

3. If Speedvale Ave between Stevenson and Woolwich becomes one lane – This city will go livid.

We have a section of Speedvale that is in dire need of underground infrastructure replacement. The city is not ripping up roads for months at end to only repaint the surface. This is all about fixing what we have in the ground. And we need a fix on this section of Speedvale badly. Why? Because the pipes are old. Very old. The existing infrastructure was constructed in approximately 1950. As well, the installation of a transmission water main is required. The bridge just before Woolwich, over the Speed River, was constructed in 1950 and widened in 1974.

It’s time to redo them. Nobody debates this.

The debate, is how do we put it back together? The same? Four lanes with bike lanes? Four lanes with no bike lanes? Two through lanes and a dedicated turning lane? With bike lanes as well? Wider sidewalks or not?

Fair enough, so our staff went to the public for two years to get feedback. That’s right, you read that last sentence right, two years. They presented them with many options.


Here’s the Staff Recommended Option:

“The recommended option is a combination of Options 1 and 2. Option 1 is recommended from Woolwich Street to Riverview Drive and Option 2 is recommended from Riverview Drive to Manhattan Court. This approach includes four vehicle lanes and sidewalks on both sides of Speedvale Avenue. Bicycle lanes would be installed from Woolwich St. to Riverside Park only. Left turn lanes would be installed at Delhi St. and Metcalfe St. The bridge at the Speed River would be replaced with a four lane structure that includes bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks”.

Now enter “the diet”:

To accomplish the above recommendation, staff acknowledge that the city would have to deviate from a 2009 and 2012 bicycle policy that recommends putting bicycle lanes on roads when these type of infrastructure improvements occur.

This has upset many cycling activists and many who in my opinion feel called to change society’s behaviour through creating forced driving discomfort – on purpose – to people like you and me who drive cars.

Council has now had two public meetings within the last 3 weeks about this issue and we’ve had only delgates speak in favour of bike lanes with a proposed road diet. Yet this would mean only one lane of through traffic with a dedicated middle turning lane and bicycle lanes.

What I think is important, is the need to look at this issue through an engineering lens and through engineering princples. The data does NOT support putting Speedvale on a road diet. You cannot look at other roads in our city that may have become a diet and imply that doing the same thing on Speedvale is no big deal. Our projected transit routes will be heavily impacted as well.

Can you imagine the back up of traffic?


The staff report says this:

“Based upon the three lane section, the maximum traffic volume on Speedvale Avenue occurs during the afternoon rush hour in the eastbound direction. The 2013 traffic volume was 1,059 vehicles per hour (vph) and the traffic model projects that the volume will grow to 1,292 vph by 2023. The maximum traffic volume for the westbound direction was in the morning rush hour and the 2013 traffic volume was 866 vehicles per hour (vph) and the traffic model projects that the volume will grow to 1,057 vph by 2023. The estimated length of the traffic queue on Speedvale Avenue based upon the three lane section option was also analysed. In the eastbound direction on Speedvale Avenue, the traffic queue would extend from Delhi Street 330m toward Woolwich Street based upon 2013 traffic volumes. This would extend past the existing fire station at the corner of Riverview Drive and Speedvale Avenue. In 2023, the traffic queue would extend 630m which would be to the west side of the Woolwich street/Speedvale Avenue intersection. Both the existing and future queue lengths would cause significant operational issues for Emergency Services in their ability to respond to emergencies east of the fire station. The future queue length would also cause operational problems at the intersection at Woolwich Street/Speedvale Avenue as the queue on Speedvale Avenue would extend past the intersection. Also, the proposed design would include the installation underground utilities to allow for the future traffic signals at Metcalfe Street. If traffic signals were installed at Metcalfe Street, there would be similar queuing (as compared with the queuing at Delhi Street) occurring at this location. Upon review, the three lane option was not recommended due to the anticipated traffic congestion and operational issues for Emergency Services.”

What can you do?

Speak up. Become a delegate on this issue, write an email or call into your councillors. (by the way you can speak up in favour of the bike lanes and a road diet too. All are welcome to get involved.)

We have a comittee meeting on this issue on July 7th at 5pm. Email clerks here: clerks@guelph.ca to sign up or have an email become part of the public record.

The full report from staff is HERE.

P.S – Anyone who accuses me of being anti-bike can just stop while you’re ahead. I’m pro traffic-flow and pro bicycle network. This doesn’t mean we default to roads everytime where it will impede traffic-flow. I worked at a bike store for 5 years. I collect vintage bicycles and commute to work and appointments on my bike often. In fact, as I write this last sentence, here’s what’s beside my desk:


“Council is disappointed that a freely negotiated contract was not reached,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie. “Council’s mandate was clear, and we felt the mandate was fair to both firefighters and taxpayers. We cannot accept the current proposals from the GPFFA under any circumstances.”

The City and the union representing Guelph’s 165 firefighters—the Guelph Professional Firefighters’ Association (GPFFA)—received a “no board” report from the Ministry of Labour conciliator.
The report states the conciliator is unable to reach a negotiated agreement between the City and the GPFFA. The next step is to move forward through the interest arbitration process to reach a resolution.

The GPFFA’s proposals include benefits exceeding those in all eight of the City’s other employee groups’ agreements. The cost of these benefits is unaffordable. Wages have not yet been discussed.

“While it is always the City’s hope to freely negotiate a collective agreement, we are not in a position to consider terms that are unaffordable for this community and unfair to other employee groups,” said the City’s Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert. “As a result, negotiations on a variety of costly matters are at an impasse and the arbitration process is a last resort to move negotiations on these matters forward.” 

To reach an agreement through arbitration, the City and the GPFFA will present evidence to an arbitration board, and the board will issue a binding decision.

The arbitration schedule has not been established, and the City’s bargaining team remains available to meet with the GFPPA to reach a mutually agreeable contract.

Negotiation updates and information about the interest arbitration are posted at guelph.ca/gpffa

Also, an article from the Guelph Mercury HERE.

For more information:
Mark Amorosi, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Corporate Services

519-822-1260 extension 2281



Final actions in Urbacon litigation settled

Resolution marks end of litigation

Guelph, ON, June 26, 2015 – The City of Guelph has settled the final two actions from the Urbacon litigation, bringing the litigation to a complete and final conclusion.

“As promised, we’re now in a position to share the outcomes of these final two actions regarding the Urbacon litigation,” says Guelph’s mayor Cam Guthrie.

One of the actions was with Aviva, the project insurer. The other was with architects Moriyama & Teshima Architects (MTA). The City will pay $100,000 to Aviva, and MTA will pay $150,000 to the City of Guelph, offsetting the overall cost of the settlement by $50,000 for a total of $5,800,837.

Mayor Guthrie acknowledges it will now be for Council to discuss how and if it will replenish the City’s own reserve fund and, in so doing, determine how the City budget will be affected moving forward. A staff report on repayment options is scheduled to come before Council in July.

With the final actions resolved, the City has extended its own full accounting analysis and will be engaging an independent third party to conduct a capital cost audit. “Both the CAO and I feel the community requires assurance of the full accounting on this file,” says Mayor Guthrie. “Therefore, a third party audit will be conducted, the results of which will be fully shared with our residents.”

In the meantime, final settlement and legal costs can be seen here.

Finally, in August, Ann Pappert, Guelph’s chief administrative officer, will share findings from a third-party review she initiated regarding complex capital projects. “There’s a lot we’ve learned from this process,” says Pappert. “I look forward to sharing what we’ve learned with Council and our community in August, and to applying that knowledge to large-scale projects moving forward.”

“I’m very pleased this litigation has come to a close,” says Mayor Guthrie. “The community is still owed three more pieces: a full accounting of the project, a review of the options with respect to repaying our reserve, and the findings from our review of complex capital projects. With these three parts in hand, we can truly say we’ve moved past this issue and that’s a positive thing for our community.”

The City issued a Statement of Claim against Aviva in November 2008 for failing to pay on the construction project’s performance bond. The following September, the City filed a Statement of Claim against MTA for contribution and indemnity, and professional negligence.



What a wonderful event today! Thank you Guelph for embracing the 100th anniversary of John McCrae and his poem In Flanders Fields! 

Our city was honoured to have the Governor General of Canada here for the unveiling of the statue which is now officially in the city’s public art collection. It’s called “Remember Flanders”.

Please take the time to go see it. Enjoy our beautiful downtown and get to know more about our John McCrae.

The picture above shows just a glimpse of all that await you in our museum as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of his poem. Here I was taking the Governor General on a tour of the art which was inspired by John McCrae, his poem and our city.

His Excellence the Right Honourable David Johnston and I enjoyed a wonderful chat about our city and I discussed with him how great our city is because of our volunteerism! 

There were so many from the city that lined the Catholic Hill to see the event! 

Here are my remarks from the event:

What a day for our community.

It’s a privilege to have His Excellence the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, with us for this special day.

I would like to first of all thank the Fundraising Committee. This statue was funded entirely by private donations – and it was the fundraising committee that made it possible.

I would like to particularly thank the Committee’s Honorary Chair, William Winegard. Sir, you have made remarkable contributions to this community over the years – and this is one more example of your tireless commitment to Guelph.

I would also like to extend a very special thank you to the Committee’s Chair, Lieutenant-Colonel Michael McKay. Mike – without your vision and leadership, none of this could have happened.

On behalf of the City of Guelph, I am thrilled to officially accept the Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae statue into the City’s collection of public art.

The statue is appropriately placed at the highest point of our downtown. It overlooks a spectacular new garden here at the Guelph Civic Museum. It will be a focal point for visitors for generations to come.

This is a beautiful piece of art. It reflects the pride that Guelph has always felt at being the birthplace of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae – a pride that has deepened this year, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of In Flanders Fields.

Before writing In Flanders Fields, John McCrae was simply a Guelph boy on his way to becoming an accomplished doctor, soldier and artist.

He was born and raised here. He graduated from Guelph Central School and GCVI. This is where his roots were planted. This was his home.

John McCrae is a great Canadian. He is revered all over the world. But to us, he will always be a Guelphite.

I believe this remarkable piece of public art will inspire all of us to reconnect with McCrae’s story and his words. It will rekindle our pride in McCrae’s legacy, and the role our city played in it. And it will deepen our respect for all who served, and all who continue to serve.

 Thank you to all those who played a role in making this possible. And thank you to everyone here today, for being part of this special moment for our city.

Thank you.

A city release is here for you as well!

Take care,




Well, an interesting last few days to say the least. The mother of an 8yr old girl, Anika,  reached out to me and the city on Twitter to let me know that her daughter was asked to cover up while at a public pool and was upset. I told her I was unaware of the issue and that I’d investigate it with staff. Which is exactly what I’ve done for the past few days. 

First things first from me. Anika, If your little girl, you or your family felt embarrassed due to the current policy being enforced by our city staff and it upset any of you- I’m sorry.

I’ve had the opportunity to speak directly to Anika and we had a good chat. 

I told her that it’s important to know that I and city staff take all matters seriously, and we tackle them in the same manner whether the request comes to us one on one (privately) or through making the issue funnel through social media and/or to the media (publicly).

This was an administration policy put in place a few years ago. Not a political one. Whenever a policy is brought to the city’s attention where there’s any “questioning” of it, staff will examine and explore it.

I believe Anika was appreciative of my call to her and I told her a decision was coming forth today on how we were going to move forward. (see below)

Now, most people would like to know my opinion on the matter. Fair enough. 

So here it is:

I don’t mind the current policy as it stands. In fact of all the emails, calls and social media coming my way there are a lot of people in favour of keeping it the way it is.

I look forward to the review from staff on it though. With new information, education, legal briefings or perspectives on it that come forward I can easily change my mind if need be. 

I think the policy intent was noble. To say that it’s sexual shaming little girls or gender bashing is just unfair because that was not the intent. It’s intent was to create a policy of comfort to all. All, meaning our other patrons, citizens and our city staff that are interacting with each other under these situations in an enclosed public place.

There’s also become a massive tidal wave of activism around this issue now. Specifically aimed at me and city staff. As I said above, it didn’t need to become that. The matter would have been handled the same way without the exaggeration that this type of activism and self promotion by some that it brings. (By the way I’m not speaking solely of Anika here. I think she’s been taken back at how much this has blown up too).

It’s a beautiful day out there today. Stop reading this now and go for a swim.


Here’s the City official Statement: 

On Saturday, June 20 a lifeguard working at Exhibition Park asked the parents of an eight-year-old girl to put the girl’s top on while she was using the wading pool.
We apologize that the event caused the little girl to feel singled out or embarrassed; that was not the intent of the employee who acted appropriately based on the City’s swimming attire policy.
We want everyone to enjoy Guelph’s parks and pools, and we believe the policy has helped us provide safe enjoyable recreation facilities for people of all walks of life, and balances the needs of women, men, children, swimming instructors, lifeguards and other recreation staff.
Since Saturday, we’ve received a lot of diverse feedback about the part of the policy that requires girls above the age of four to wear a swimming top. Some people support the policy while others feel it no longer meets their needs. The City’s challenge is to find a reasonable balance that serves our community.
As the complex subject of children’s dress codes is being discussed and debated around the world, the City of Guelph must consider its role and responsibilities as the owner of public facilities, a provider of recreation programs for people of all ages, and an employer of teens and adults.
Suspending and reviewing part of the swimming attire policy
In response to community feedback, the City of Guelph will review the section of the swimming attire policy related to swimming tops. During the review, the City will not enforce this section of the policy.
As part of the policy review, the City will consult other municipalities, schools and institutions across the province including Parks and Recreation Ontario, the Life Saving Society and the Red Cross. We’ll also gather input from recreation patrons and the community at large, and ensure any proposed changes comply with applicable legislation.
More information about how people can participate in the policy review will be communicated in the weeks ahead. We appreciate your patience as we develop our community engagement plan, and we hope you’ll participate in this opportunity to help the City determine its role in providing safe enjoyable recreation facilities for people of all walks of life.
This summer and year round, our lifeguards, swimming instructors, camp councillors and other recreation staff want to help you and your children make friends, learn skills and have fun.


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