As a resident of east Guelph the question of WHEN comes up on a weekly basis. Some have been asking for 15 years. Others ask as part of their decision to buy here. Still others ask as they wait on their new home to close. Regardless, as I review the 2015-2017 proposed Capital Budget and reflect on this question, I’m encouraged. Encouraged because I can see the WHEN quickly converging with the NOW in East Guelph.
With over 5,500 homes (in Ward 1 alone), and a fourth elementary school coming east of Cityview (Couling Crescent to include French Immersion in 2016) the growth projections in East Guelph continue to defy expectations. Perhaps the greatest example of this is currently underway in the Starwood/Watson area. Where between 2012 and 2015 Council is set to approve upwards of 1,000 new residences (detached, semis, towns and condos), all within a 5-7 minute walk of the Watson/Starwood intersection. These plans are projected to add an additional 3,000 residents and over 30,000ft2 of commercial retail on Starwood; all while maintaining the potential for an additional 100,000ft2 of commercial retail on the Loblaw property south of Watson. Once established, this diverse Mixed Use Node will serve as a benchmark for sustainable suburban communities in Guelph. Further, upon completion this walkable urban node will also be one of the most tax productive suburban areas of the City; generating millions in tax revenue annually from a concentrated footprint. And all this in advance of the incredibly ambitious Guelph Innovation District to the south; a development that will one day see a further 5,000 residents living within the York Correctional Lands (currently owned by the province).
It’s with these growth projections in mind that I commend City staff for the community investments proposed in the 2015-2017 Capital Works budget. With $9.9M earmarked for modernizing the Victoria Road recreation center and $5.7M earmarked for the new Eastview Community Park (including beach volleyball courts, tennis courts, basketball courts, a natural ice rink, splash pad, concessions, washrooms and change facilities), these community amenities (a decade in the making) are a welcomed return on the tax investment made by residents of one the fastest growing and underserviced areas of Guelph. These investments will significantly move the bar forward for the East Guelph community and should be the pretext to other important infrastructure initiatives; namely the York Road corridor.
York Road (Watson to Victoria) is the City’s Eastern Gateway and is identified as an intensification corridor in the Official Plan. It continues to generate investor interest in anticipation of the Innovation District moving forward but is in genuine need of upgrade (plans were finalized in 2007 but remain in queue for funding). This type of infrastructure investment (i.e. modern streetscapes, bike lanes and sidewalks) is a proven strategy for attracting commercial investment (as experienced at Paisley/Imperial and Clair/Gordon) and could be leveraged in a similar way along one of the more underdeveloped and heavily traveled corridors in Guelph.
Despite this however, today I’m encouraged. And while I’m sure I will continue answering the question of WHEN from time to time, I’m encouraged that the NOW is closer than ever in East Guelph………………with or without a grocery store;)