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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 elected 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 in Guelph 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 an Agenda Item I will be bringing forward during the June Committee of the Whole Meeting of Council for discussion.

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

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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.

From our family to yours Merry Christmas Guelph

IMICo Update: Where we’ve come from and where we’re going

These are exciting times for the Ward’s IMICo property. Last night council unanimously approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understading (MOU) between the City, Habitat for Humanity Wellington/Dufferin/Guelph Chapter and ARQi R&D developers for the future redevelopment of the property. At this stage, in order to keep everyone up to speed on what’s been happened over the past 13 months I wanted to share some history,  in order to set the stage for next steps.

Following the 2015 federal election and the renewed optimism around federal infrastructure funding for affordable and social housing, many city’s began building bold proposals in an effort to attract federal funding. One proposal which caught my eye came from the City of Vancouver which I continue to follow closely.

See link here: Vancouver offers city land in bid for social housing funding from Ottawa.

In this context, I believed Guelph should be no different and the IMICo property presented such an opportunity.  As a City owned property which has sat vacant for 20+ years, I believed IMICo (which is almost 14 acres in size and steps from our Downtown) could be leveraged for federal brownfield funding in exchange for a commitment to an affordable housing component within future developments (in addition to many market based developments).  In essence, a truly mixed used community that the City (as current owners) could steer in the appropriate direction.

During the February 11th, 2016 council meeting specific to Guelph federal infrastructure proposals, I raised this concept for IMICo and on February 12th, 2016 sent the following email to council and the executive team in order to start an internal discussion on the file.

img_0401

Fast forward 11 months and I am extremely pleased that we (collectively) are taking positive steps toward realizing this future for IMICo. In closing, I’ve included my speaking notes from last evenings council meeting in order to express my sincere thanks to all who have played important roles to date and to set the stage moving forward.

“I want to thank Mr. Howard and the local Habitat for Humanity Wellington/Dufferin/Guelph chapter as well as Dr. Obeidi from Arqi Developments. I’d also like to thank Mr. Cartwright and the Guelph economic development office, our planning staff, our Guelph executive team, and our intergovernmental affairs team for their efforts and involvement to date on this file. To the Mayor and Council I thank you for supporting this vision for the prosperous use of the IMICo lands into the future. It goes without saying that there are tremendous gains from moving in this direction on IMICo, especially when considering the many socio-economic and environmental multipliers that will be generated from construction activity like this in the Ward. I’ve always believed that the factors unique to IMICo create the types of conditions our federal and provincial governments are looking to support (through social & brownfield infrastructure funding) in order to grow our economy and support the social wellbeing of our country. For these reasons I commend intergovernmental relations staff in their efforts to highlight the IMICo proposal in Guelph’s portfolio of strategic infrastructure projects presented to the federal government ealier this year. We need partners to make this project reach it’s full potential and to this end I’d also like to thank our Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield for being a welcoming and engaged ear on this file. I believe this MOU lays the foundation for welcoming those partnerships with senior levels of government and (as owners of the property) the city can build in assurances that the vision will be carried out. So, today marks a significant hurdle being crossed, and now we can move forward to the next one.”

 

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