Is The City in The Penalty Box?

Hi everyone! (Especially those in the Summerfield Drive and Grey Oak Drive Pine Ridge subdivision.)

As the picture states above, I, along with city staff, are feeling like we’re in the penalty box today.

570 News article

I’ve heard from some of you about the news that the City has asked neighbours to stop using an unauthorized outdoor rink constructed on City property in the south end.

I 100% get it. It’s an awesome outdoor rink. The kids love it. My own kids would love it. They’re out in the sunshine instead of in front of the X box.

City staff get it too. I just came from a meeting about it because this issue is very important to me. Staff has assured me that they are reaching out to the neighbours to explore possible solutions that work for everyone.

So why did it need to be shut down in the first place?

You can’t just build something like this on City property without asking, and expect the City to look the other way once it’s received a formal complaint. You can’t build a shed in a city park or construct a trampoline on the steps of the Sleeman Centre. Even if you had good intentions. Even if it’s awesome and people (including me) love it.

The City has to balance a lot of factors – public safety, liability and legal issues, environmental concerns, neighbourhood concerns. This natural area might not be the best place for a rink. Then again, it might be – but we need to do some work to find out.

And that’s exactly what we’re doing.


26 responses to “Is The City in The Penalty Box?”

  1. Trish Avatar

    Great job Cam! For all those still complaining, I seriously think you have to look at yourself in the mirror and evaluate your life when children having fun on an outdoor rink causes you irritation or headache. Honestly, choose optimism and a positive outlook – Serenity comes from within.

  2. Mark Avatar

    I also meant to say, there are 2 good sized recreational parks (1 already with a rink) within a few minutes walk) from where the rink in question is. So why doesn’t this “community of people” just move the rink to one of these parks. The regular kids that play on the rink, that I have observed on my walks, are more than old enough to get to the rink on their own! I personally have never seen those little ones skating on the rink that they showed on the TV spot

  3. Mark Avatar

    If as Tonya indicates that there are ” hundreds of kids over the course of the week” using the rink, then this really begs the question “What right does this group of neighbours have to change the use what is supposed to naturalized green space and change it into a noisy recreational space?” . I am sure that there are more than a few home owners who purchase lots on this naturalized green spaces for the very fact that they were looking for a bit of peace and quiet.
    Cam – if the city rolls over for this group; then I guess we will have to kiss this by-law gone for good; and then where will the green-spaces be? The city of Guelph has a mandate to maximize the health and size of its urban forest and green spaces are just one way this is accomplished.

  4. itsabouttimeguelphdoessomethingright Avatar

    This is ridiculous!
    As far as your comment goes Cam, I see HUNDREDS of comments about bringing the rink back and HUNDREDS of complaints about your decision to close it down.
    Since when is one voice lounder than hundreds? I hope whoever made the call is embarrassed by their incessant need to ruin the fun of many. Seems to me like your priorities are with the wrong party- perhaps you should be telling the person who complained that the people have been heard and take precedence

    Just my thought

    1. leroy Avatar

      Give the kids their rink

    2. Cam Guthrie Avatar
      Cam Guthrie

      I never ordered this to be shut down. I found out about this issue in the media. Anyways, this should clear things up and I thank you for your comments.

  5. […] Mayor Guthrie on his blog: “Is the City in the penalty box?” […]

  6. jim machen Avatar
    jim machen

    put up a sign i will chip in on paying for it USE AT OWN RISK CITY TAKES NO RESPONSABILIY

    1. Cam Guthrie Avatar
      Cam Guthrie

      Hey Jim! Thanks for the offer but put your money towards a hot coffee from Tims!

  7. Tonya Avatar

    Feels like you through us under the bus, Cam. So we put in the application and the city will likely turn us down (as a city staff member has already told us they will do… since there is a complaint). Then we are back to the fact that even if it makes sense, even if it is good, even if hundreds of people use this rink (and I’m not exaggerating… we get hundreds of kids over the course of a week), even if it is entirely run by a community of people working together; one person’s complaint stops it all. When kids come to the rink everyone plays together, everyone is welcome. No matter the skill level, age or race; they can join in. It is truly amazing! There is so much respect for the sanctity of this rink by those who use it. They all seem to get how precious and special this rink is. This is what I, as a citizen, want Guelph’s future citizens to grow up experiencing. This is what I, as a parent, want my kids to experience!
    It really feels that we are at the mercy of one person. Why? How does this make Guelph better?

    1. Cam Guthrie Avatar
      Cam Guthrie

      Hi Tonya! Hope to see you in person on the ice soon! All good for now:

      1. Tonya Avatar

        Thanks Cam! Sounds good. We truly appreciate the support from the city and you!

  8. Mike Avatar

    I’m glad I don’t live in the so called Royal City. Worst roads ever compared to Cambridge, Kit/Waterloo for pot holes etc on my delivery route. This backyard rink ordeal is insane. So your tax dollars apparently does not allow you to use city property. I’m confused there. In Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge they appeal to the residents in the neighbourhood to help with the outdoor rinks “on city property” to keep them maintained…they are found in parks, on ball diamonds, school lots throughout our region. Does Guelph have zero outdoor rinks? I call out BS on Dave MacEachran. Ya right he did not complain. Pfftt

    1. Dave McEachran Avatar
      Dave McEachran

      Well Mike, Dave McEachran here and, for the record, neither my wife or I made a complaint! When we initially had issues with the noise (my daughter has a sleep issue and my wife suffers from debilitating migraines) we spoke to the neighbor who provides the electricity and he agreed to turn out the lights at 8pm – problem solved. If you talk to our immediate neighbors they will tell you that we go to them when we have issues and we discuss it and get it resolved.
      There is someone (or a few people) in the area who complain to the city about things like kids tobogganing down the hills, neighbors setting up sun shelters for the day and people cutting the green space but it is not us!
      We are VERY disappointed by how some in the neighborhood have decided to treat us based on gossip and rumors (we have been open right from the start). So much for honesty and being good neighbors.

    2. Lori Avatar

      Parks, ball diamonds, school lots are not natural green spaces that people have paid premiums to back onto and enjoy without a hockey rink being erected. There is a difference.

  9. Graham Avatar

    The city has shown that it doesn’t care about public safety, liability and legal issues with the state of their public sidewalks. People are walking and running on roads in the winter because they feel it’s safer than the poorly maintained sidewalks.

    Yet, a community of neighbours put a lot of work into an outdoor rink to encourage an active community and they get slammed for it. Its disgusting that this has gone as far as it has and I hope a resolution comes that satisfies all of those involved.

  10. Trish Avatar

    Hey Cam,
    Respect you and what you want to do for Guelph, even voted for you. But if it’s a great idea and people are putting you in the penalty box over the decision to remove the rink, do something about it, you’re the mayor!

  11. Paul Avatar

    “You can’t just build something like this on City property without asking, and expect the City to look the other way once it’s received a formal complaint.”

    And here is where I take issue with the City’s actions. If the City has genuine concerns about public safety, liability and legal issues then it had every opportunity to act on those before now. I find it hard to believe that the City was not aware of the ice rink given the Navy Seal-like ability of City planning officials to locate obscure doorstep railings, paddling pools and basement kitchens that are without permits. Let’s be honest, the City was aware of the rink and rightly turned a blind eye. It is acting now only because it received a complaint – a complaint that very likely had no basis in concerns for public safety, liability or legality.

    In being so impressively responsive to complaints, the City opens itself up to abuse from nuisance neighbours wishing to use it as a means to unreasonably influence the behaviour of others in their community. I’ve seen this first hand with the over-zelous use of Bylaw Enforcement services.

    Yes, the City has to balance all of the issues you refer to. But at least provide a fastracked process for resolving disputes of this kind that allows communities to pursue these kinds of communal projects and protects them from unreasonable complaints from nuisance neighbours (p.s. I don’t live in the Summerfield / Grey Oak / Pine Ridge neighbourhood).

    1. Jim Wadleigh Avatar
      Jim Wadleigh

      The Mercury picture of that illegal rink made me shudder. Seven strapping lads without face or head protection (including the goalie) and using full size nets that encourage lofting the puck face high. What could possibly go wrong? The rink in Exhibition Park uses safe, low pond hockey nets provided by the City, has a separate rink for beginners, has no structures other than snowbanks, and is maintained by volunteers who have nothing but praise for the cooperation that they have had with the City for years on this rink. C’mon guys. It’s not that hard. Quit this cowboy cheap and be responsible citizens.

      1. jim machen Avatar
        jim machen

        jim wadleigh dont go ouyside today an air plane might fall on you

      2. Tonya Avatar

        Hi Jim,
        Sorry for the delayed reply. You make a good point and the photo is deceiving. The strapping lads are from the OHL. We don’t force adults or professional hockey players to wear helmets, but we tell kids that if they want to skate they need a helmet. If a kid shows up to skate without one, we welcome them to come back another day when they do; end of story. We also don’t allow anyone to raise the puck. So far it’s worked well and no injuries… After 5 years. I think we are doing it well.

  12. Bob Avatar

    that rink looks like the one in Exhibition Park that is on city property. Have the Pine Ridge neighbourhood fill in all the forms that the Exhibition Park neighbourhood filled in and let it go. Till the forms are filled in and approved, structures like boards and lights should come down but ice surface is only temporary and should stay and be used.

  13. Steve H Avatar
    Steve H

    I think part of the problem, Cam, is the language City Hall uses to communicate with it’s citizens. Everything I have ever received from City Hall is abrupt, heavy-handed and authoritarian in nature with lots of “legalese bafflegab”. Maybe if City Hall tried to actually COMMUNICATE (ie. back and forth, offering suggestions and/or options to solve issues, etc.) with us rather than order us about, people might not react so badly? Communication with City Hall has been one of my biggest beefs with Guelph in the 14 years I have lived here. Time for a change?

    1. mikey Avatar

      i agree with Steve get rid of the Lawyers and things will work out, Lawyer have ruined enough of our fun sports!

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