Courtesy: Guelph Today
Feb 11, 2016
It appears it might be time to throw in the towel on Loblaws bringing a grocery store to Guelph’s east side.
At a Ward 1 town hall meeting Wednesday night, councillors Bob Bell and Dan Gibson sounded like it might be a dead issue.
“I’ve given up on them,” Bell told a group of roughly 35 who gathered at the Italian Canadian Club to hear updates on key Ward 1 issues and engage in discussion with the councillors.
“If Loblaws was going to play ball, we’d love to have them. If not, we move on,” Gibson added. “They say they have intention and a timeline, but until Bob and I see a shovel in the ground we won’t believe them.”
The lack of a grocery store and other commercial development has long been a thorn in the side of many east side residents. Loblaws owns the key parcel of land at the intersection of Watson Parkway North and Starwood Drive, but has been sitting on it for years.
Mayor Cam Guthrie, who attended last night’s town hall primarily as an observer, told the audience he had talked to Loblaws last week but “had no more updates.”
Instead Bell and Gibson said the focus should shift to the redevelopment of York Road.
The city has started the process of widening the road and addressing potential zoning issues with the hope of making the corridor available to more retail space in the near future.
Gibson said he and Bell had been talking with “other interests” about bringing a grocery store to east Guelph. He didn’t provide any more details than that.
“As far as we’re concerned we are ready to move on without Loblaws,” Bell said.
There are a number of steps that need to be taken before York Road could take on major retail. The first of those steps, an environmental assessment, is currently underway.
Other key Ward 1 issues were touched on during the almost three hour session:
There is currently a waiting list of 250 looking for monthly downtown parking and the lack of parking is preventing some businesses from locating in office space downtown, the councillors said.
There are four parking developments expected over the next four years: A 350-space parking garage replacing the Wilson Street lot is first up in 2017, then a 250-space parking lot on Neeve Street that will in part service GO Train customers, and then refurbishments of the east and west parkades.
EAST SIDE DEVELOPMENT
The councillors said 55 to 60 per cent of all of Guelph’s new development in 2015-16 is taking part on the east side.
That includes 281 new units on Cityview Drive and a 133-unit condominium complex on Watson Road.
These new developments will put even more strain on Grange Road, they said.
The councillors also stressed the need to widen York Road to help take some of the traffic load off Grange Road, which is “at capacity,” Bell said.
“If York Road is not reconstructed it would be a huge mistake,” the councillor said.
FORMER IMICO SITE
There have been expressions of interest from people regarding the contaminated former IMICO factory site and there are currently infrastructure upgrades around the site that are needed to increase its potential.
“It’s a little piece of the puzzle for IMICO,” Gibson said of the infrastructure work.
“There’s lots of conversations happening and it’s promising. But I know you’ve heard it before,” Gibson said.
To which one person in the audience replied “yeah, for 20 years.”
Several people expressed concern about safety and traffic flow at the busy intersection.
The councillors explained that the city is trying to establish a right turn lane from northbound on Victoria Road onto York Road, but is not getting anywhere with Imperial Oil, the owners of the lot on the southeast corner of the intersection that is for sale.
The city does not want to buy the lot because it doesn’t know how contaminated the site of a former gas station is.