Is casting your ballot online in the 2018 Guelph Municipal Election important to you?

On Monday April 3rd, despite learning that over 12,800 votes (33%) cast during the 2014 Guelph municipal election were submitted online, seven councilors decided they wanted internet voting removed altogether in 2018.

This was unprecedented. On a recomendation from staff to expand internet voting in 2018 to include election day, seven Councilors unexpectedly brought forward an amendment of their own.  An amendment to completely remove internet voting in 2018. And within 30 minutes they had passed it. No consultation, no notice, no public debate.

They passed this motion with full knowledge that the 2014 Guelph Municipal Election saw the highest voter turnout in 20 years (43%). Up from only 34% in 2010. In addition, they passed this motion with full knowledge that hundreds, if not thousands of new voters intended to use internet voting in 2018 (based on phone survey results).

In conclusion…they knew it would suppress the vote.

Guelph if you valued the ability to cast your vote online in 2014, or would consider it in 2018, please consider sending an email to clerks@guelph.ca to express your support. The council ratification vote is on April 24th and emails need to be received before April 20th at noon.

Council needs to hear your voice on this! 

 

Council not clicking on Internet Voting in 2018 Municipal Election

Courtesy Guelph Today | April 4th, 2017

Unless things change in the next three weeks, the city will not offer internet voting in the 2018 municipal election.

Nor will it offer a paperless voting option during advance polls.

Guelph City Council’s Committee of the Whole voted Monday afternoon to remove internet voting from the picture for 2018 but not without a lot of wrestling with the concept of making voting more accessible and convenient versus concerns about security, privacy and the possibility of voter fraud.

Mayor Cam Guthrie took to the internet later that night to criticize the move.

On his Mayor’s blog he wrote: “Let that sink in. 7 votes today have the potential to prevent how 13,000 citizens voted in 2014 and how thousands more would choose to vote in the future,” wrote Guthrie.

He urged constituents to reach out to the seven councillors who voted against the motion: Bob Bell, Mike Salisbury, James Gordon, Leanne Piper, Karl Wettstein, June Hofland and Phil Allt.

City Clerk Stephen O’Brien said at Monday’s meeting that 33 per cent of the votes cast in the 2014 election were done on the internet when it was offered during the advance voting period. He said during a follow-up telephone survey, 63 per cent of respondents said they would engage in internet voting.

It was convenient for people with disabilities, shift workers, busy families and those who travel and couldn’t vote in person on election day, he said. And internet voting took place at all hours of the day and night.

“Internet voting cast across all age groups,” O’Brien said. “We’re seeing a turn toward internet voting and away from phone and mail.”

But a number of councillors and delegates expressed concern over the security, privacy, and the very integrity of online voting as it is susceptible to voter fraud and computer hacking.

They also accused MPAC, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation of having lax rules about voter registration. MPAC develops the voter lists that are distributed to municipalities and the lists are notoriously inaccurate.

“It’s an atrocious voters’ list,” said Susan Watson, who spoke at a delegate. “No identification is required to get on the MPAC voter list. It’s susceptible to fraud. You could register your cat.”

Councillor Leanne Piper introduced an amendment to remove internet voting from the 2018 landscape. Changes to the Municipal Election Act have moved the deadline for municipalities to make decisions about their elections to May 1st a year before the election, so the decision is pressing.

“I don’t know if by 2018 the accuracy will be there,” she said.

O’Brien said that the city has its own two-step system to ensure the identity of the person registering to vote online but has no control over the list provided by MPAC.

“MPAC has to do something about voter identification,” said Coun. Cathy Downer.

Councillor Dan Gibson gave an impassioned plea to retain internet voting, stating that people shop online and pay their bills online and they should be able to vote online too. He said removing the option is a step backwards and away from democracy.

“We’re a progressive community but this is a regressive decision,” he said.

Council also voted not to go paperless in 2018, citing the comfort and security of a paper trail in the case of a recount. But they did support the use of vote scanners and tabulators to assist in the vote count.

The vote still has ratified at the council meeting on April 24.

Notice of Motion | Exploring Pathways for Aligning the Corporation of Guelph with the Low Carbon Economy

When it comes to environmental initiatives my desire is for a consistent message from municipal leaders.

That our focus, first and foremost, is to be stewards of the community’s good will toward the environment and to seek “common currency” (i.e. social, fiscal and environmental) in our initiatives that ensures transparency, trust and broad support.

And while I have no interest in repeating mistakes of the past that included unattainable and unaccountable visions; my focus remains on rebuilding the community’s trust in our municipal governments ability to implement fiscally responsible climate change initiatives that are achievable, transparent and reflect common currency.

In this context, please see attached a Notice of Motion that I will be bringing to Guelph Council in the near future for discussion and debate.

As always if you have any questions or concerns, or would like to discuss further, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Dan Gibson
Ward 1 City Councilor
Dan.Gibson@guelph.ca
519-827-6407 (c)
www.ward1guelph.ca
@DanGibsonCllr

Plan “B” for East End Commercial Development Gets Nod from Guelph Council

Courtesy Doug Hallett | Guelph Mercury Tribune | March 7, 2017

A conceptual illustration of the mixed-use node identified at Starwood Drive and Watson Parkway from a City of Guelph display board for the official plan. The existing Guelph Public Library branch can be seen at right.

Council has thrown its weight behind a “Plan B” for commercial development in Guelph’s east end, in the event that the designated mixed-use node at the corner of Watson Parkway and Starwood Drive fails to shape up as a commercial centre.

Council’s committee of the whole (COW) unanimously approved a slightly amended version of Ward 1 Coun. Dan Gibson’s motion calling for city staff to consider opportunities for neighbourhood commercial development along York Road east of Victoria Road.

Then, on a 11-1 vote, COW approved Gibson’s additional clause directing staff to report back on commercial opportunities along York as they emerge or at established reporting times for a major city-wide commercial policy review that’s underway.

Gibson told Monday’s meeting of COW that the city’s “Plan A” is still to see a supermarket built to act as a commercial anchor at the Watson-Starwood node, where a Guelph Public Library branch now sits near a lot of vacant land. However, Gibson said he fears this designated node might be “collapsing.” And if Plan A doesn’t work out as hoped, “then we as council are ensuring we have Plan B” in looking at neighbourhood commercial development on York Road, he said. Continue reading

Loblaw ‘unco-operative’ in Guelph’s east end, councillor claims

Courtesy | Doug Hallett of the Guelph Mercury Tribune

March 1, 2017

City hall seems to be losing patience with Loblaw Companies Ltd. over the lack of a Zehrs supermarket that could act as an anchor for commercial development in Guelph’s east end.

On a 10-2 vote, council agreed on Monday, Feb. 27, to refer a motion by Ward 1 Coun. Dan Gibson about east-end commercial development to the March 6 meeting of council’s committee of the whole for a full debate on the issue. But preliminary debate that happened on Monday clearly showed city hall’s frustration with the lack of progress in getting commercial development at a designated mixed-use node at the corner of Watson Parkway and Starwood Drive, where Loblaw owns a lot of land. Coun. Bob Bell, who also represents Ward 1, said the city’s plans for commercial development near this intersection hasn’t resulted so far in much more than a public library branch. And, he added, Loblaw is pressing city hall for more residential rather than more commercial development in this area. “Loblaw is at our door as we speak, wanting more residential” and wanting to “snuff out” what remains of the designated commercial land in the area, Bell charged. Loblaw is “a developer who has been unco-operative” in regards to the city’s development goals for the east end, Bell told council. Continue reading

Update on New Traffic Controls Coming to Ward 1 in 2017

Traffic control and speed on our roads has been a significant file for me since being elected in 2014 and I want to thank the many residents who have been strong advocates in this regard. Whether it be school zone safety, volume control,  pedestrian crossings or traffic signals, we are seeing signs of progress.

Here are some updates (Provided by City Staff) on traffic related files advancing in 2017.

1) All way Stop at Watson and Speedsvale
“It is our intent to have the all way stop signs, plus associated pavement markings in place by end of April of this year (2017).”

2) New Traffic Signals at the intersection of Eastview and Watson
“Due to the recommendations from the existing Environmental Impact Study (EIS) that was undertaken previously in the area we will not be able to have the new traffic signals installed and operational until August of this year as we are undertaking our work in conjunction with other capital work taking place on Eastview. It is our focus to have the signals operational before school is back in September.”
 Please see the recommendations from the study below.
9. It is recommended that construction take place between August and March (i.e. outside the breeding cycle of April through July) to allow amphibians to complete their breeding cycle;
10. If construction must take place during any part of the breeding cycle, wildlife enclosure fencing (e.g. silt fence) should be used to prevent amphibians and reptiles from entering the active construction area. An on-site environmental monitor should survey the fence daily to ensure the fence is functioning as intended. Daily surveys of the construction zone should be completed first thing in the morning and any wildlife should be moved outside the construction zone.

3) New (Temporary) Traffic Signal at the intersection of York and Elizabeth

“We estimate that the traffic signal installation (temporary design) at York at Elizabeth would be completed by August/September of this year.”  Full installation of traffic signal (permanent) will take place in during the future reconstruction of York Road. 

Again, thanks to the many of you who have been advocating with me on these files.  We’re moving forward together!

Regards…..,

Dan Gibson
Ward 1 City Councilor
Dan.Gibson@guelph.ca
519-827-6407 (c)
www.ward1guelph.ca
@DanGibsonCllr (on twitter)

 

 

Please share, retweet and forward to your friends, family and co-workers! Your voice matters!

Feel free to email me at dan.gibson@guelph.ca, and if you’d like your support to become part of the public record, please email clerks@guelph.ca.

Have a great night!

Dan

Councillor seeks to hang the ‘open for business’ sign in store-starved east end

Coun. Dan Gibson hopes his motion will help attract and facilitate more commercial development | Courtesy Guelph Today | Feb 8, 2017

———————————————————————————————————

Ward 1 councillor Dan Gibson has filed a notice of motion with the city that if successful would direct city staff to start exploring potential opportunities for commercial development along York Road east of Victoria Road.

The key element to his motion is that it happen now rather than waiting until after road improvements and a commercial review are completed over the next couple of years. Continue reading

Exploring Opportunities to Accelerate Large Neighbourhood Commercial Growth in East Guelph

In furthering my committment to advocating for East Guelph commercial development, below please find a motion I will be bringing forward for council’s consideration on Feb 27th. While I continue to champion new commercial development within the long awaited mixed use node at Watson & Starwood, I’ve always maintained that the East End needs more; and moving forward with the reconstruction of York Road presents that opportunity. After successfully getting the York Road Environment Assessment back into the 2015 budget and securing funding for a City wide comprehensive commercial policy review in the 2016 & 2017 budgets, now is the time to be welcoming expressions of interest for commercial development along York Road.

This motion sets out to acheive this and directs staff to consider other opportunities, and report back to council as these interests come in to City Hall so that we can respond as quickly as possible.

If you agree with this direction (to see commercial redevelopment occur along York Road), I encourage you to express your support by sending an email to clerks@guelph.ca.

Dan Gibson
Ward 1 City Councilor
Dan.Gibson@guelph.ca
519-827-6407 (c)
www.ward1guelph.ca
@DanGibsonCllr

Why is there no Grocery Store in the East End?

Courtesy Guelph Today

January 6, 2016


It is one of the most common complaints in Guelph.

Whenever a new store, business or service opens in the south or west of the city, residents of Gueph’s east side feel stiffed … again.

The lack of amenities, in particular a grocery store, has long been a thorn in the side of those living east of Victoria Road.

We chatted with Ward 1 councillor Dan Gibson about why there isn’t a grocery store and other significant amenities and when there might be one.

If you live in east Guelph you might not like the answers, but it might help understand the situation.

Is there enough population in east Guelph to warrant a grocery store?

Gibson says yes. He estimates 15,000 people live east of Victoria Road.

“The density is definitely there,” he said.

How many grocery stores are there in the south end?

There are five full grocery stores on and south of Stone Road if you include Wal-Mart. It will be six when Longos opens later this year on Clair Road.

“They build (in the south end) because they’re all competing for a piece of the pie,” said Gibson, who sees competition as one impetus for change in east Guelph.

There has also been appropriately-zoned land available in the south end.

Then why can’t east Guelph get just one?

Because the only remaining land big enough to accommodate a large grocery store plaza that is appropriately zoned, at the Starwood Drive/Watson Parkway intersection, is owned by Loblaws, who have not yet chosen to build there.

Why won’t Loblaws build on the land?

They haven’t said.

Popular convention, and Gibson, believe that with no competition in the area, east Guelph residents tend to frequent one of the company’s other stores anyway – namely the revamped Zehrs on Eramosa Road that Loblaws sunk a bunch of money into upgrading a couple of years ago.

As Gibson put it: “Why double down when you’ve got the customers there already?”

He believes the city has waited long enough for Loblaws and needs to be more proactive in opening up more land along York Road to allow for competitors to build.

Did Loblaws ever move ahead with building?

In the early 2000s Loblaws was moving ahead with plans to build a super centre at the location. When Wal-Mart won approval for its super centre on Woodlawn Road, Loblaws shelved its east Guelph plans.

Can’t the city force Loblaws to build or sell the property to someone that will?

No.

Why isn’t there other property where one could go?

Most of the property in the east end has been swallowed up by residential development.

Gibson believes the city made a mistake many years ago by not preserving a larger amount of land for commercial development in its Official Plan.

What’s an “Official Plan”?

The city’s Official Plan is a collection of land use policies that determines how a city grows.
It is intended to make sure a city’s land is used in order to meet the communities needs while keeping in line with guidelines established by higher levels of government.

For example, you can’t build factories on land zoned as residential and you can’t build houses on lands zoned industrial.

A grocery store needs mixed use or commercial designation.

Can’t the city just make changes to its Official Plan?

Not arbitrarily. It is a potentially complex, lengthy and contentious process.

Official Plans are reviewed every five years.

What’s the quickest solution?

For Loblaws to decide to build a grocery store at that location, Gibson said, adding that if it did it would take roughly 14 to 16 months to get a grocery store up and open.

Are there others willing to build a grocery store if land were available?

Yes. Gibson said at least two.

“Create more competition and let the free market dictate,” Gibson said.

How do we make more land available?

Gibson said he continues discussions with the city’s executives to see if there are ways to get zoning changes of existing properties along the York Road corridor that would free up more commercial land ahead of the city’s ongoing York Road redevelopment studies and changes, which are a lengthier process.

While he cautions against false expectations, Gibson remains “optimistic” that there is the possibility a “shovel could be in the ground” before the end of the current term of city council in October 2018 if there was a way to make those changes.

But at this point there are no firm plans or decisions to free up more commercial property on York Road.

Are there any positive steps happening right now?

Yes, but they take time.

The city already has plans on the books to widen and upgrade the roads and other infrastructure on York Road east of Victoria Road that would be a positive and needed step to more development along the corridor.

They have also begun a full commercial policy review of the city, which could identify the need for more commercial space along the York Road corridor.

The old jail lands on York Road are another possibility, but the dispersal of that property by the province is still in the early stages and the city might end up not owning any of it.

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