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.
The councillor said he is not looking to “inject false hope” into the minds of east Guelph residents, who have been begging for more commercial services for many years, but to help facilitate and hopefully speed up the process.
“This is a municipal issue that has been loud and clear for a long time,” Gibson said.
“The next logical progression in making this east end corridor a reality is to put the ‘open for business’ sign up. Put the feelers out,” Gibson said.
“We’d like to know that if those interests that were around 12 months ago, if they’re still wanting to come to the table. This is a strong signal to the business and the development community.”
A city-wide commercial policy review is expected back to council in 2018 and reconstruction of York Road is expected to reach that area in 2019-20, Gibson said.
Rather than wait for those two important ingredients to be completed, Gibson wants the city to get ahead of the game by starting to seek interest from commercial developers so that any interest there can help “inform” the commercial review and road reconstruction.
“We could show the interest is there so that would obviously influence the commercial policy review.
“I want to send a strong signal to the development community,” said Gibson, who has discussed his motion with senior city staff in advance.
He also wants any interest to be reported to council as it is received.
“That puts things in real time,” he said.
Although Gibson didn’t say it, the motion could also be interpreted as a warning shot across the bow of Loblaws, owners of the only large commercially-zoned property in the east end at Watson Parkway/Starwood Drive.
Loblaws has so far decided not to build on that site.
Gibson said his first choice is to see Loblaws build a store on its property.
“I want to be clear, I’m still very bullish on the Starwood and Watson property going up as a food store. That’s what I’d like first and foremost,” he said.
Even if Loblaws moves ahead with its plans, Gibson said there are still merits to his motion because more commercial development is needed along the corridor.
“I’ve had support from council on this to date. All of council sees this as a city-wide issue.”
The notice of motion will likely come to council on Feb. 27.
Gibson’s full motion reads as follows:
1. That, in conjunction with the ongoing comprehensive commercial policy review, staff be directed to consider other opportunities for neighbourhood commercial development along the York Road Intensification corridor (east of Victoria Road) with the intent of attracting further commercial investment to East Guelph (East of Victoria Road), and
2. That staff report back to Council on these opportunities as they emerge or, at established reporting milestones for the commercial policy review.