Recently an opportunity has presented itself for the Drop In Centre to consider purchasing the existing Parkview Motel in Guelph and turn it from the existing short term emergency shelter use that it’s been operating as for years, into permanent supportive housing for the same clientele.

About a week ago I interviewed Dominica from the Guelph and Wellington Poverty Task Force about what supportive housing is, and can be, in our community. For that interview and background please click here: https://mayorguthrie.com/2020/08/25/supportive-housing-updates-info-in-guelph-time-for-yimby-not-nimby/

But for today, specifically on the Parkview Motel issue, please join me as I interview Gail Hoekstra, the Director of the Drop In Centre as she answers a lot of questions regarding the potential conversion of the Motel.

Click here and consider sharing this video with others: https://youtu.be/zRwWMl1GRUo

Thanks so much,

Mayor Cam

Good day Guelph!

To start off, please click on this link below to see a layout of the work being done to date locally on making supportive housing a reality in Guelph. Here’s the link:

Info Sheet-Permanent Supportive Housing (June 2020)

Next up, is a couple of links to articles in the last 24 hours on two projects that are starting to come together. The first is about a local motel being turned into supportive housing and the second article is about a developer looking to add a fifth floor to a building under construction, and those units would be supportive/affordable too!

Link #1 https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/housing-advocates-hope-to-purchase-motel-and-turn-it-into-housing-for-the-homeless-2661769

Link #2 https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/conversion-of-former-factory-into-apartments-looks-to-add-fifth-floor-of-affordable-units-2660990

And finally, this is about 35 minute video interview I was did with Dominica McPherson who has been the Co-Chair of the Mayors task force on supportive housing, and I think it really answers a lot of questions about what supportive housing is, what it isn’t, what’s happening locally and how people can be engaged!

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO: https://youtu.be/gP3iib7nBhs 

Take care, share and be well!

Mayor Cam

Metrolinx Info for #Guelph:

Good morning Guelph,

I have found it best to look at the work being done or considered by Metrolinx by identifying two key issues.

1. Downtown Rail Line Upgrades

2. Margaret Greene Park Power Station

In regards to the Downtown Rail Line Upgrades, I’d like to address the Dublin Street closure first. Contrary to some continued misinformation circulating within the public for some time now, I’d like to state the following:

This particular portion had to be closed to meet the Transport Canada Federal Rail Safety ACT and Standards. Period. This was NOT a city of Guelph initiative. The city was told by Metrolinx that it had to close. There was detailed information about this through a report posted publicly and I’d ask people to read it to understand more fully the issues at play here: https://pub-guelph.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=4158

Lastly, regarding the other rail crossings downtown, rest assured I can confirm that there are already plans from city staff in reviewing these areas and it will include public engagement. Staff have indicated the following:

1. City Transportation Planning team will be initiating a transportation study of the neighbourhoods on the east and west sides of Edinburgh later this year.

2. The general purpose of the study is to (among other things):

·         Confirm whether a grade separation of Edinburgh Road is warranted

·         Provide the necessary data to inform the scope of a future potential EA for grade separating Edinburgh Road

·         Evaluate and propose recommended active transportation crossing locations east and west of Edinburgh and recommend preliminary design option(s) for crossings.

3. There will be an engagement component to this work, and potential to bring the report to Council for endorsement if that is desirable. (This report IS coming to Council because as Mayor I’ve requested it to).

The Terms of Reference for the study have not yet been started, so more details will emerge once the work begins.

Now let’s move on to the second issue identified which is the proposed Power Station on Margaret Greene Park:

Let me be very clear on the position of the City and myself:

Improved rail service and the associated environmental benefits from electrification are an important part of our Strategic and Community Plans, the City does not want the TPS infrastructure in a City park. Parkland is important to our community, and in fact the City wants more parkland, not less. As such, we’ll be encouraging Metrolinx to reconsider their selection.

The city has a dedicated website link for the community to gather info on Metrolinx work and will be updated as new information is known. Please bookmark this link here and come back to it often:

https://guelph.ca/living/getting-around/metrolinx-in-guelph/

Some more Q & A to consider:

This is a Metrolinx project/process:

  • Metrolinx has initiated a study (environmental assessment) for future electrification of the rail line from Kitchener to Acton, through Guelph.
  • The purpose of Metrolinx’s study is to select sites for electrification infrastructure, including locating a proposed Traction Power Substation (TPS) in Guelph.
  • Currently, through virtual engagement, Metrolinx is seeking community feedback on their preferred site for the TPS in Margaret Greene Park and other changes related to electrification of their rail line.
  • This is the second of three public information events. The first occurred in November 2019 (seeRound 1 tab at above engagement link).

What is the City’s role in the TPAP EA and site selection process?

  • The City has provided Metrolinx with technical information related to siting the TPS in Guelph (see below).
  • In April, City staff provided input on a number of possible sites for the TPS, including Margaret Greene Park.
  • In June Metrolinx advised us that their preferred site for the TPS was Margaret Greene Park and that they would be engaging the community on this location.  
  • The City can raise concerns and provide Metrolinx with feedback, but Metrolinx makes the final decision for site selection and can (if necessary) expropriate lands for this use. Our opportunity lies in ensuring that the TPS design mitigates impacts to our community.

How is the City advocating for the community?

  • Rail improvements are specifically identified in the City’s Strategic Plan as a priority under Navigating our Future.
  • The City provided Metrolinx with the following feedback on Margaret Greene Park as a potential location for Metrolinx infrastructure:
    • This site is currently zoned as parkland (1975) and is bounded to the south by the rail corridor and the north by the rear yards of houses on Ferman Drive and Lisa Lane.
    • A large portion of the park is identified as a Natural Heritage System (NHS) in the City’s Official’s Plan. Official Plan policy indicates development and site alteration are prohibited in the NHS. An Environment Impact Study is typically required when development/site alteration is proposed within 120m of Significant Woodland. Should this site be considered by Metrolinx, the following steps are required:
      • Field verify the limit of the Significant Woodland and establish the NHS boundary.
      • Assess whether any unmapped natural heritage features occur in close proximity.
      • Prepare site plan/development footprint.
      • Assess impacts on NHS, including a tree inventory and preservation plan to assess impacts to trees and establish appropriate compensation (tree planting to make up for lost tree canopy cover). 
      • Identify appropriate mitigation and enhancement measures to support the NHS.
    • There are existing trails through this park parcel that must be maintained. Parks staff has noted the sensitivity in the community to the amount of parkland and that careful communication would be required around how the proposed infrastructure affects parkland.
    • Per the City’s Zoning By-law, any structure built in a park requires setbacks of 6 metres and 7.5 metres depending on what is considered the “front yard” for the structure.
    • There is an underground sanitary sewer that more or less is installed under the existing trail.

What are the next steps?

  • Metrolinx will consider public feedback as part of their final analysis, narrow down the exact location for the TPS within the broader site, then develop conceptual designs for the TPS.  
  • The City will have a chance to provide additional feedback on the final location and design concepts as they are developed.
  • Metrolinx will host a third open house to present designs concepts with the public (planned for winter 2021).
  • After the third open house, Metrolinx will complete their study and file their report which provides another 30 days for public comment.

What’s being planned related to potential grade crossing closures?

  • Metrolinx is conducting a review of all at-grade rail crossings in Guelph and beyond, but no decisions have been made beyond the Dublin Street closure.
  • Metrolinx has agreed to collaborate with the City as the review moves forward; our next meeting to review Guelph’s at-grade crossings with Metrolinx is Friday.
  • While Metrolinx may request additional closures the City is advocating for them to explore all options before proceeding with any action, e.g., are there engineering solutions that can be done instead of closures, keeping in mind that some costs for needed upgrades to keep at-grade road-crossings open may fall to the City.
  • The City has asked Metrolinx to engage the Guelph community as part of any potential work associated with grade-crossings; if they’re not prepared to do this the City should engage around this work.

What other Metrolinx initiatives are there in Guelph?

  • Metrolinx is working on several initatives in the community that relate to asset management, improved speed/service, etc. These include:
    • Improvements to grade crossings ahead of increasing train speeds and twinning of tracks
    • Review of train warning options (to avoid the use of train whistles)
    • GO Station improvements including design of a new south platform
    • Maintenance or replacement of rail bridges and culverts
  • The City is also preparing to relocate locomotive 6167 to John Galt Park before the end of this year. The initial information can be found on here: https://guelph.ca/living/construction-projects/locomotive-6167/

Thank you for your continued engagement and remember, this is a Metrolinx process and your feedback through their process is key. Please fill out your concerns to them here: https://www.metrolinxengage.com/en/content/kitchener-corridor-guelph-wellington

Take care,

Mayor Cam

Ward 3 Councillor June Hofland has announced through a Council Notice of Motion that the fenced in off-leash dog parks located at Bristol Street and Peter Misersky should be closed just weeks after they are to open for public use.

City Council unanimously approved the construction of these two fenced in parks. Misersky Dog Park opened to much fanfare because there has been pent up demand for fenced in dog parks in Guelph for years. It was the only fenced in off-leash dog park in the entire city so many were using it. Council was made aware of further mitigation measures in February to make the experience better. These measures may include the moving of a fence, soft close gates, trees installed for buffering, better monitoring of the site through bylaw and technology, better signage and changes to hours of operation.

The Bristol Street fenced in dog park is currently under construction. We are waiting for the final construction to be completed at this location so that we can open both facilities at the same time, which will be very soon.

In the middle of May the Province announced that during Phase 2 of COVID-19 re-openings that dog parks could be used. Since then, many off-leash dog users in the city have been waiting graciously for these two parks, even though they’ve technically been allowed to be used.

There is also no requirement for the municipality to alter the design of the current off-leash dog park facilities – similar to the entrances to locations like libraries, municipal facilities, shopping centres and other retail locations, it is up to the individual resident to be mindful of sanitizing their hands after touching high contact surfaces like door handles and gate latches. Likewise, it is also up to everyone to maintain physical distancing.

There are also no additional provincial or public health requirements to alter these two existing facilities. City staff have confirmed with Public Health that our off-leash dog park facilities are permitted to reopen under their current configuration with no alterations.

There’s also a couple of outstanding motions from City Council on dog parks.

1. That staff be directed to explore the feasibility of a fenced dog park located in a non-residential area, with the report coming to Council for consideration in the 2021 budget.

2. That staff be directed to report back to Council by the end of Q2 2020 on potential options and costs to lock fenced dog park gates daily from approximately dusk to dawn, which is when the facilities are considered closed to the public.

The first motion will be responded to through an information report in the fall which will provide Council with time to consider any recommendations in advance of the 2021 budget. Info on the second motion has been delayed due to COVID, but staff will report back as soon as they can.

Now that you have that background information, let’s examine the Notice of Motion:

Here it is:

Any member of Council has the ability to bring forward such a motion. This is our process. It will require 7 Councillors to agree to refer this motion for final approval in September. If those 7 Councillors are found, then these facilities will be locked up, closed, sit empty and unused right after they were just opened until info is received on another park.

I certainly will not be one of these 7 votes. There are no concerns from the Emergency Operations Control Group Public Health contact related to the operations of these parks due to COVID-19. NONE. Mitigation measures are being implemented at Misersky and Bristol is about to open. A larger non-residential area park is already being examined and reviewed by staff because of the current approved Council direction to city staff to do so.

The referral motion to another meeting in September will be formally debated at Council on August 24th, but no delegations are allowed as is our process on notices of motions. However, if you want these fenced in off-leash dog parks to stay open as I do, email: clerks@guelph.ca so you can tell Council why.

Thank you,

Mayor Cam

Over the last two weeks I promised our community that I would listen, be intentional and both focused and learn of the issues surrounding systemic racism and intolerance towards our Black, Indigenous and People of Colour community within Guelph. And I have done exactly that.

Conversations have only just begun and I am committed to continue having respectful dialogue on these issues that result in both understanding and meaningful positive change.

I have a dual role. Responding to these issues as your Mayor, and as a member of the Police Services Board. In everything I do, in either position, my desire is to bring about action.

My first step in taking action will occur tomorrow June 18th. I will be bringing forward a series of motions or clauses to the Police Services Board for consideration. You will see them attached.

This is only the beginning.

As Mayor, work is already underway to re-evaluate options through our Community Plan. As more information becomes available I will keep everyone up to date.

My hope is that you see many of your own questions, requests for change and your desire for real action embedded within these motions and clauses. If supported by the Board I believe they will form a foundation for furthering these conversations and taking action.

I’m honoured to be in this position as we make Guelph a role model for other cities on how to embrace our diversity, bring about acceptance for all and eliminate racism in all its forms.

Keep your ideas coming, because I most certainly can’t do this alone. This needs to continue to be a community led journey and we’re all invited. And yes, it may be bumpy along the way, but I’m in it for the long haul. So let’s get going.

Thanks for listening,

Mayor Cam Guthrie