As happens almost every year, new tax rolls are sent from MPAC into the city which updates our assessment growth numbers. A report has landed on my desk indicating new assessment of $888,287. This will now be used in our 2018 budget to lower the overall base budget. This is great news for taxpayers! It should also be great news for all of Council. Most members of city council I’ve had the opportunity to talk to about the upcoming budget agree with me and do not want an “all in” impact of 4.85% on homeowners and businesses. This lower starting point helps us on the right path to get the 2018 budget lower.
A second report coming forward on Nov 27th for council information is our projected operating variance numbers. It’s also good news. It shows a projected year end variance of $2,384,500. I would suggest that council look at this very seriously and consider using this towards our 2018 budget as well. By doing so, we again would be able to reduce the impact on taxpayers.
Here’s a scenario using the above assessment growth, year end variance and reduced expansions:
New base budget: 1.75%
+ Approving all City expansions: 1.40%
+ Approving all outside board expansions: .25%
Total = 3.40%
– Year end variance $2,384,500 = 1%
– Reduce proposed expansions by $1,300,000 = .5%
New total: 1.9%
This would be something I hope everyone would agree to consider! I’m going to explore it further with staff, my council colleagues and of course you – the citizens and businesses of Guelph!
Good afternoon Guelph!
I want to thank everyone who have called, emailed, asked questions or posted comments on a social media, stopped me on the street, came to open houses, picked up a flyer at the Farmers’ Market or the mall, or took a survey about the proposed Guelph Hydro-Alectra merger. There’s been a lot of great interactions and a willingness to further understand the answers.
After more than a year of collecting your input and conducting industry research and analysis, Guelph City Council voted to begin merger negotiations last month.
Like any business negotiation, we’re discussing sensitive operational and financial information on both sides of the table. While the specific details are being finalized, we do know, for a fact, that Guelph will benefit from rates that are better than they’d be if Guelph Hydro remained on its own, continued, reliable service from local crews, more resources to invest in local infrastructure and innovation, and a new Green Energy & Technology Centre.
If you’re really interested in the facts about a Guelph Hydro-Alectra merger – keep reading the seven outlined below! As always you can learn more, ask questions and post comments on the official website for the project energizingtomorrow.ca.
#1. Comparing historical rate increases does not tell the story:
Electric utilities are not all the same. Some have aging assets while others have brand new infrastructure. Some cities are growing faster than others. Some areas have had big storms that caused a lot of damage, and each utility may have a different history of labour relations.
Electricity distribution rates are based on these and other factors. Rates are not necessarily a reflection of a utility being run well (or not). Any analysis and comparison requires more than a simple comparison of recent rate increases.
An enormous amount of analysis has gone into confirming that a Guelph Hydro-Alectra merger is beneficial to both utilities and—most importantly to me—to Guelph Hydro customers, this community, and the City of Guelph as shareholder of Guelph Hydro.
#2. Savings for everyone in Guelph:
Our electricity bills won’t go down after a merger, but they’ll go up less than they would if Guelph Hydro continued operating alone.
Even before we experience savings from consolidating our business operations, Guelph and Rockwood customers will avoid an estimated 5% distribution rate increase in 2021, and another estimate 5% increase in 2026.
We know, in the short term, the merger partners would make significant investments to consolidate business systems and operations.
After the merger, savings can be used to increase dividends to the City. After that, as savings continue year after year, they can be used to put more downward pressure on distribution rates.
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) gives merged utilities 10 years to recover transition costs, and start saving money. The OEB also sets a threshold and, if a merger reduces costs even more than expected, the OEB ensures ratepayers share in any savings above that threshold.
#3. Rates for businesses in Guelph:
We’re listening to our community, and we’ve heard questions about a merger’s effect on small businesses.
Guelph Hydro’s business rates are already about 39 % lower than Alectra’s average rates. Our rates wouldn’t automatically go up after a merger. The Ontario Energy Board is unlikely to approve sudden or significant rate increases that could harm businesses. We expect the OEB would permit Guelph to operate as a separate rate zone, and commercial distribution rates in Guelph would continue to be lower than the average commercial distribution rates for Alectra, until rates can be harmonized without adversely affecting commercial customers in Guelph and Rockwood.
Remember that a merger would have to be approved by the Ontario Energy Board, according to the principle that there will be no harm to ratepayers.
As we negotiate the specific terms of a merger, we’ll keep sharing information about distribution rates for customers in Guelph and Rockwood.
#4. Customer service and response times:
We heard from the community that customer service is important. Service reliability and outage response times will be as good or better than they are now.
After a merger, local crews will continue to respond to local calls, while gaining access to a much larger team of skilled workers during storms or emergencies.
Alectra’s focus on technology and innovation would help modernize customer service systems, and offer more self-service options, mobile apps and other technologies that provide customers with greater control over their energy use.
#5. Who owns Alectra:
Alectra is a publicly-owned utility formed earlier this year with the merger of Enersource, Horizon Utilities, PowerStream – and the subsequent joint purchase of Hydro One Brampton.
The cities of Barrie, Hamilton, Markham, Mississauga, St. Catharines, and Vaughan, through their respective holding companies, and Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement System (OMERS) are joint owners of Alectra.
- City of Mississauga (27.90%)
- City of Vaughan (20.84%)
- City of Hamilton (18.15%)
- City of Markham (15.72%)
- City of Barrie (9.43%)
- City of St. Catharines (4.85%)
- OMERS Infrastructure (3.10%)
Following a merger, Guelph would join this list of municipal shareholders. We would continue to have an important say over hydro decisions affecting our community and we will continue to receive annual dividends we can re-invest towards community initiatives.
People are an enormous consideration in a merger. We care very much about the people who work at our local hydro distribution utility.
Guelph Hydro employs about 130 people. The jobs of about 70 per cent of those people would be unaffected by the merger. That’s because operations-type positions would remain unchanged, and they would stay here in Guelph.
About 30 per cent of the positions at Guelph Hydro could be subject to change. But of those, we expect several to be addressed through attrition, early retirement, or voluntary separation. Of the remainder, some positions could be affected. And that’s not a small thing. But I want people to know that Guelph Hydro employees will be treated equitably and with respect.
And let’s not forget that Guelph stands to benefit by becoming a southwestern Ontario operations hub, and creating a new Green Energy & Technology Centre.
#7. Have your say:
If you are genuinely interested in knowing the facts about the proposed merger, please visit energizingtomorrow.ca to learn more, ask your questions, post your comments or take the survey.
There’s more to come! Guelph Hydro and Alectra are discussing the financial, legal and operational details, and you can read the council report on Thursday, November 30.
We want to hear from you! Guelph City Council will hear delegations and make our final decision about the proposed merger during an open meeting as the shareholder of Guelph Hydro on December 13, 2017.
To speak to Guelph City Council during the meeting, please register by Friday, December 8, 2017.
Learn more. Ask us anything.
Take care, thanks for reading and sharing these 7 facts!
Hope to see you at these in-person town halls or through Facebook Live! Please share so others can know about these opportunities!
Honoured veterans; members of Canada’s Armed Forces and Reserves; cadets and scouts; emergency responders; ladies, gentlemen, and young people:
On behalf of the City of Guelph, I am extremely honoured to bring greetings on this day of remembrance.
Today, we gather together to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to Canada.
And we gather in gratitude and respect for all who served our country – and those who serve today – in the Canadian Forces.
I want to thank our local Legion for organizing an exceptional Remembrance Day service every year.
I believe Guelph has one of the best Remembrance Day services in the Province. Every year, I am moved and inspired by it.
It is incredible to look out and see so many in our community gathered together in remembrance.
I am always inspired by the sight of a sea of uniforms – proudly worn by veterans; current members of the Canadian Armed Forces; young people serving as cadets; and emergency response personnel.
And I am inspired by the sight of so many families here today. Especially with Remembrance Day falling on a Saturday this year.
As your Mayor, I believe it is important to honour veterans not only on Remembrance Day – but throughout the year.
A little over a year ago, I learned that the City would be reconstructing the pedestrian bridge over Norfolk Street near City Hall and the Farmer’s Market. I brought a motion to City Council asking staff to find a way to commemorate veterans through the design of the new bridge.
As I said at the time, the bridge has the opportunity to become a new landmark in our city – one that pays tribute to our veterans’ stories and inspires us all to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.
My motion received overwhelming support from the public, and was unanimously supported by Council.
I am pleased to advise that the reconstructed Bridge will be re-named the Veterans Memorial Bridge, and visual elements will be incorporated into the design of this new bridge to honour and commemorate local veterans for years to come.
I have recently learned that, thanks to inquiries from community members and research from Guelph Museums staff, the City will be adding names of soldiers to the Roll of Honour on our cenotaph in early 2018.
I want to thank community members who submitted names of military personnel they believed to be missing from the cenotaph. Staff from Guelph Museums conducted research on each of the names submitted. From this research, we found that the names of 31 soldiers who served and died during the First and Second World Wars need to be added.
This year, when the parade marches past the cenotaph, I will think especially of those 31 people whose names will be added to the others.
Every name on our cenotaph represents a real person.
Someone like all of us. Someone who lived in Guelph, walked our streets, went to school here or worked a job here.
Someone who had parents, brothers or sisters, friends, a wife or a girlfriend.
Someone who, in many cases, was young and just getting started in life. Someone whose dreams were cut short far too soon.
And I will think about their family and loved ones – the people back home in Guelph who worried and prayed for their safe return.
I recently read some fascinating new information from local historian Ed Butts, who has done a great deal of work researching Guelph stories related to the First World War.
He explained that during the War, families in Guelph lived in dread of hearing a knock on the door – for fear it would be the telegraph office, delivering a telegram saying that your husband, son, brother or father had been killed.
It got to the point that neighbours in Guelph would actually avoid knocking on the door when they were coming to visit. They didn’t want to cause alarm. Instead, they would call out from the doorstep.
Think about that. The simple act of knocking on a neighbour’s door – something we all do without even thinking about it – was instantly associated with death and grief.
We gather today in remembrance of every one of those knocks on a door.
It is our sacred responsibility to remember the sacrifices made by those who served. Those who did not return. And those who did – but were forever changed by the experience.
Because of their sacrifices, we have the privilege of living in freedom and peace. We have the privilege of going about our lives and pursuing our dreams in one of the safest and most prosperous countries in the world.
Today, I join you in not only remembering those we lost – but in expressing our deepest gratitude for the freedom they secured for us.
On this solemn day of remembrance, we pay tribute to them. We honour them. And we pledge to always remember them.
Guelph, Ont., October 31, 2017 – The City of Guelph and the Downtown Guelph Business Association (DGBA) invites local media outlets to the official grand reopening of the newly reconstructed Wilson Street.
The Wilson Street grand reopening will feature a ribbon cutting ceremony by City of Guelph Mayor, Cam Guthrie. Some of the festivities will include local musicians playing in select Wilson Street businesses, face painting for children, a prize draw* and an interactive passport. The passport will be used like a treasure hunt to collect a hot drink from The Common, a Killer Cupcakes treat or a flower from Sweet Violets. Passport cards can then be submitted to enter a draw. The first two draws get a $250 gift certificate for the shops on Wilson Street and the final draw will receive a $500 gift certificate.
The grand re-opening will celebrate the businesses on Wilson Street and the wrap up of construction that started late July. Along with new sewer and water pipes, the street has been redesigned to the 2014 Downtown Streetscape Manual standards, including larger sidewalks, new street benches, lighting, trees and a new pedestrian island across from Wilson Street on Macdonell Street.
Wilson Street Grand Re-Opening
Everyone’s invited! Special guests include:
Mayor Cam Guthrie and members of Council
Apple Salon, Guildcraft, Persephone’s Wardrobe, Killer Cupcakes, Millennium Clothing, Sweet Violets, Take Time Vintage, and The Common
Downtown Guelph Business Association members
Drexler Construction and City of Guelph staff and City Staff
Saturday, November 18, 2017 – 10 a.m.—2 p.m.
10 a.m. – Live entertainment, face painting and interactive passport begins
12 p.m. – Ribbon cutting and speeches
12:30 p.m. – Live entertainment, face painting and interactive passport commences
1:50 p.m. – Closing remarks and prize draw*
*Participants must be present for the prize draw in order to win.
Wilson Street, Guelph, ON.
Additional off-street parking is available in the Wilson Street parking lot at the corner of Wilson Street and Northumberland Street.
Ian Panabaker, Corporate Manager, Downtown Renewal
Business Development and Enterprise Services
519-822-1260 extension 2475
Marty Williams, Executive Director
Downtown Guelph Business Association