Back in February I stated the following on my blog:
“The City has to balance a lot of factors – public safety, liability and legal issues, environmental concerns, neighbourhood concerns and so on. 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.”
That “work to find out” has now been completed:
After several internal meetings and discussions with the neighbours, a decision by staff has been made to not allow the ice rink to be rebuilt again on this portion of land. To read more about the decision, click here.
For some history, I was not a happy camper when I found out the rink was about to be shutdown with no engagement or dialogue with the neighbours. So staff – (rightly in my opinion) – were able to quickly reverse that decision and come up with a compromise that allowed it to run its course until the first major thaw. This included no more lights at night, no more music at night and so on…
The city promised to talk with the neighbours – and it happened.
The city promised to look for positive solutions – and it happened.
I too took this matter seriously and met tonight with key stakeholders from the community – face to face. I feel it went very well. From what I can tell, they left understanding the city’s reasoning and would relay this info onto other neighbours.
What’s the reasoning?
- Council approved policy deemed this portion of land in 1999 a “Conservation Land (P.1)” zone. This zoning allows for conservation areas, flood control facilities, recreational trails or wildlife management. Not community/hockey rinks.
- The area in question was always laid out from the beginning of designing the subdivisions, using technical data supporting an interconnected series of natural corridors that function as part of a storm management system for those subdivisions.
- There are differing liability issues associated with a rink on this land that can affect the taxpayers from across the city if something were to go terribly wrong.
What are the possible solutions?
Staff is proposing, that within a short walk away, a new community rink fully equipped with lights and the opportunity to set up nets and boards for hockey be prepared for consideration within this coming budget in December. There was already demand in this area for a skating rink (obviously) so this could work perfectly. In fact, staff told me requests for an ice rink have been coming in for about two years and was already in their 10 year forecast for possible construction. It will now be up to the greater community to see if indeed there is the support to warrant putting this new rink in place. Our engagement team will reach out over the next several weeks to this area and start this dialogue.
There are two pictures below that are important to take a look at:
- The first, is the letter sent out by the administration informing the neighbours of this decision.
- Second, a map showing the affected area with the proposed new rink that will be built and highlighting the current zoning and natural areas.
Rinks Across our City:
Across Guelph, the Community Ice Rink program brings neighbours together to enjoy the pleasures of outdoor recreational skating close to home. Last year, there were 40 outdoor rinks across the city.
The City provides the following:
· Training to volunteer groups
· Picnic tables
· Equipment such as hose(s), spray nozzle, water key, shinny nets, backflow, and lighting at some locations
· Promotions of rink locations on guelph.ca
· Weekly inspections for ice quality
· $10 per day up to a maximum of $500 in grant money for usable skating days to registered volunteer groups
How do I feel about this?
I’m pleased that the neighbours I spoke to tonight were understanding and thankful for the upcoming engagement and positive solutions that have been offered from the city.