AA+ credit rating reaffirms Guelph’s solid financial foundation:
Guelph, Ont., August 15, 2018 – The City of Guelph’s credit rating remains strong at AA+ as announced today by S&P Global Ratings (S&P).
“This is great news for ensuring the long-term prosperity of Guelph,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie. “This rating not only reflects the City of Guelph’s solid financial position and practices, it also speaks to our vibrant economy, ability to attract new residents, employers, and investment opportunities.”
S&P is an independent company that looks at corporations around the world and analyses their capacity to meet financial obligations. The City of Guelph’s AA+ rating signifies its ability to meet its financial commitments is between very strong and extremely strong.
Council and City administration’s management of its finances is a big part of why the City’s credit rating has remained at AA+ for six years in a row, but there are other factors that contribute to a high rating. S&P considers Guelph’s proximity to the Greater Toronto Area and location along the Highway 401 corridor to have economic benefits; its fairly high median household income; its high growth in population; and its sizable public sector employment consisting of the university, schools, hospital and government offices that help to balance the large manufacturing sector.
“Our ability to meet our financial obligations is paramount for both Council and staff,” said Derrick Thomson, chief administrative officer for the City. “A great credit rating is our financial foundation that allows us to strategically plan for the future, and a testament to continuous good work.”
Read S&P’s report on Guelph’s 2018 credit rating.
About S&P Global Ratings
S&P Global Ratings is a leader in independent credit risk research and market intelligence including credit ratings, research, and thought leadership. It has offices in 26 countries and more than 150 years of experience.
It needs to stay.
A few months ago many local stakeholders got together to determine what more could be done to help those in our community with the wave of the opioid crisis now on our city’s doorstep.
I want to first acknowledge those stakeholders for their care and ongoing work they do in our community. Thank you for all you do!
There are many tools in the toolbox to help those in need. From increased enforcement, a rapid access addictions centre, education on safe needle disposal, a community outreach van for assistance, counselling, mental health awareness and much much more.
But another tool was recently added to the toolbox:
An overdose prevention site.
This temporary site is fully staffed with a nurse, supportive counselling and more. To date, there has been over 1000 visits, engagement with over 150 unique individuals, 7 overdose reversals, and 2 assisted onsite medical emergencies. The opening of this site has taken away the cloak and dagger aspect of using these drugs, hiding in the shadows where there was zero opportunity for safety to those addicted, or any opportunity to build relationships to give users the ability to obtain the resources required to remove themselves from their addictions.
Recently I’ve heard that the Province is reviewing the evidence behind these sites, and that there is a risk of them being shut down prematurely.
This is wrong.
Perhaps the current location isn’t the best. Or perhaps this site may never need to be a permanent one in our community. But taking it away now, at the height of need during a crisis in our community makes no sense.
I often talk about infrastructure needs in our community. The roads, pipes, bridges and city buildings that need attention. How much more important are the lives of people in our community, that at this time in their lives need help? Taking away this site, which is their infrastructure, cannot and should not happen.
Addictions do not discriminate and we shouldn’t either.
I call upon the Province and The Minister of Health to allow this site to remain. This temporary site is an immediate response to the current crisis we’re in. We need to see this through to the end where we can establish the metrics and measure the impacts we all require, and to continue to positively change and save lives along the way.
Mayor Cam Guthrie
In late March we hosted a “Let’s Talk Transit” town-hall here at city hall. Approximately 80 people attended and I want to thank everyone for coming and taking the time out of your evening to let us know how you felt about transit in Guelph.
As promised, I had indicated that I was having each issue raised that evening compiled and then sent to staff to respond.
We are committed to continue to improve the transit experience for our citizens. So much so, that as many of you know we are in the middle of a complete service review which is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. This review brings together everyone both internally (staff and union), along with external consultants and the public to give us the feedback required.
Soon, the review will have a public engagement part that is vital to the review and to the recommendations that will eventually flow from it. When these engagement opportunities present themselves I would encourage everyone to speak up and continue to share your feelings about how we can make transit better for all involved.
The link to the service review page can be found HERE
Below are the issues raised and responses from staff.
A link to this and further info is HERE
What is Parkland Dedication?
The Planning Act allows municipalities to require that land for park or other public recreational purposes be given to the City as part of the approval of a development application. The contribution can come in the form of land for a future park or payment in lieu of land.
Sections 51.1, 42 and 53(13) of the Planning Act provide the full definition.
Why do we need a Parkland Dedication Bylaw?
Section 42 of the Planning Act requires the City to have a bylaw in order to require parkland dedication as a condition of some types of development or redevelopment in our community.
Why is the City updating the Parkland Dedication Bylaw?
The bylaw has not been fully reviewed and updated since 1989. The bylaw is being updated to ensure that it is consistent with the Planning Act and the City’s Official Plan. The Parkland Dedication Bylaw ensures that as the city grows, our parks and opens spaces grow with it.
Updating the bylaw also increases certainty, predictability and transparency in the parkland dedication process for all stakeholders.
How does Parkland Dedication work with the City’s Official Plan?
The Official Plan, required by the Planning Act, describes what the City’s Open Space System is and provides guidance on parkland targets for the entire city based on the population of Guelph.
The following parkland targets were incorporated into the City’s Official Plan:
- Neighbourhood Parks – 0.7 hectares per thousand people
- Community Parks – 1.3 hectares per thousand people
- Regional Parks – 1.3 hectares per thousand people (encouraged rather than required)
Section 7.3.5 of the Official Plan sets out the Parkland Dedication policies for the City.
Is Parkland Dedication the only way the City can acquire new parkland?
Parkland Dedication is just one method the City uses to get new parkland. Relying only on parkland dedication through the approval of development applications is not enough to achieve the parkland targets outlined in the City’s Official Plan because of the maximum limit for dedication is set by the Planning Act.
Is there a City-wide shortfall in parkland?
No, there is not a City-wide shortfall in parkland.
The City has approximately 450 hectares of parkland which consists of neighbourhood, community and regional parkland. As per the 2017 Growth Monitoring Report, the population of the City of Guelph is 135,000. This represents approximately 3.33 hectares of total parkland per 1000 residents which meets the Official Plan’s parkland targets.
Will we continue to achieve the Official Plan City-wide parkland targets?
With the current provision of 3.33 hectares of parkland per thousand people, the City is meeting parkland targets. However, if the City uses parkland dedication as the sole method to get new parkland, it is possible that the service level will decline over time.
In the Official Plan, there are three sections that outline other ways of acquiring parkland:
- Section 7.3.4 Parkland Deficiencies
- Section 7.3.5 Parkland Dedication
- Section 7.3.6 Other Agencies
Will the Parkland Dedication update ensure the city meets its parkland targets?
The Parkland Dedication bylaw is only one method of acquiring parkland. Parkland dedication establishes criteria and rates for parkland dedication that will determine how much parkland or cash in lieu of parkland should be given to the city for any specific development.
How does the City determine the amount of cash in lieu a developer should pay instead of dedicating parkland?
The Planning Act outlines the maximum rate allowed for parkland dedication. The city, through its bylaw and as part of staff review of development applications, determines the rate of cash in lieu for parkland depending on the type and size of development.
Some are based on an appraisal of the development at current market value where others have a set fee based on the application type and the proposed density of the project. Most fee calculations are based on a percentage of the total value of the developable land, which means that the larger or more valuable the proposed development, the larger the parkland dedication requirement would be.
You can view the parkland dedication bylaw online. You can also read the draft Parkland Dedication Bylaw that’s still in progress to see the proposed, updated rates.
Will the Parks and Recreation Master Plan help us to reach our parkland targets?
The Parks and Recreation Master Plan which is being started in 2018, will review current parkland supply levels, assess the City’s active recreational needs and review the current parkland provision targets. Until then, it is too early to determine to how targets will be adjusted and the parkland funding strategies that will be investigated and recommended.
Did the Official Plan reduce the parkland targets during the 2012 update (OPA 48)?
While the 2012 Official Plan has lower targets, they are now specific to parkland only and exclude natural heritage features or areas. This allows the City to separately focus on identifying and protecting areas recognized as natural heritage features or areas.
When the Official Plan was updated, the City’s Open Space System was defined more clearly to include parks and trails. Environmentally sensitive lands which meet the criteria to be considered Natural Areas or Significant Natural Areas are not included in the Open Space System; they are now a part of the Natural Heritage System.
What is the difference between the Open Space System and the Natural Heritage System?
The City’s open space system accommodates recreation and compliments the City’s natural areas. The open space system consists of parks, trails and open spaces that separate, interconnected or supportive of the Natural Heritage System.
The City’s Natural Heritage System (NHS) is comprised of a combination of natural heritage features including natural areas, ecological linkages, restoration areas and wildlife crossings. Together these elements maintain local biological, hydrological and geological diversity, ecological functions, connectivity support viable populations of indigenous species, and sustain local biodiversity.
Prior to the 2012 update, were developers allowed to dedicate Natural Heritage Systems or open spaces as a portion of their required parkland dedication?
No, they could not. As a part of the Official Plan, developers were always required to dedicate land that would be suitable for parkland. The Official Plan has a list of criteria for what the City considers to be suitable parkland on page 158.
Why did the draft Parkland Dedication Bylaw not go to Council in spring 2018?
During the engagement process, stakeholders requested more time to review the bylaw and we agreed. The new parkland dedication bylaw will be presented to Council in early 2019.
We want this bylaw updated just as much as our community, so it’s important that we take the time to get it right.
Did the City take funds from the Parkland Dedication Fund to pay for recreation services?
Yes, $500,000 in funds from the Parkland Dedication Reserve provided additional funding for the Victoria Road Recreation Centre.
The Planning Act allows these funds to be used to buy parkland or for recreation purposes, including building, improving or repairing existing infrastructure that support recreation.
How much parkland is Clair-Maltby required to set aside?
The parkland that Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan is hoping to achieve has not been specifically defined at this time. The parkland provision criteria of the Official Plan have been followed regarding the layout and location of proposed parks. Specifically:
- Neighbourhood parks that are walkable and a minimum of one hectare in size
- Community parks that are 10 hectares minimum in size
This results in approximately 18 hectares of parkland. However, through future development applications, parkland will be acquired in accordance with the Planning Act (through draft plan of subdivision or in accordance with the City’s Parkland Dedication Bylaw) and may include additional neighbourhood parks or urban squares.
Many of you have been asking questions around the proposed glass plant. So I thought a quick video might be the best way to address what we know so far!