RECAP: Bob Bell and Dan Gibson Hosted Ward 1 Townhall

Wednesday night, Ward 1 Councillors Dan Gibson and Bob Bell hosted the first townhall of the year. The room at the Italian Canadian Club was full, the townhall went about half-an-hour overtime, and a wide variety of issues were covered from beginning till end. If you weren’t able to attend, or want to relive the experience, the live tweets from the forum are all arranged below for your transparent delight.

Ward 1 Townhall – February 10, 2016

A recap of the live tweet from the townhall.

  1. I am at the Ward 1 townhall at ICC. Pretty full house. Only a few seats left. #Guelph #GuelphNews
  2. Bob Bell and @Ward1Guelph begin townhall with review of water rates & budget
  3. Water reserves, of the money variety, is the healthiest the city has says Gibson
  4. Gibson praise capital budget for finally finding money for some downtown parking.
  5. Well over $1 million for new fair boxes on transit buses. A worthy investment though, and long in coming says Gibson.
  6. Someone is asking how much it costs per ride for Guelph Transit. Bell says Transit is subsidized at 54%.
  7. Gibson adds that the new fare box is going answer some of those questions too.
  8. Apparently Greyhound moved in to the VIA station last week.
  9. Actual cost for the bus to city $3.80. (per Bob Bell)
  10. Gibson says he will take resident’s concern about co-ordination of street and sidewalk plows back to the city.
  11. Question from resident about York Rd. jumping to 4 lanes.
  12. Bell says road is under capacity at two lanes with new residential and the future development of Innovation District.
  13. One of the limitations for Imaco moving forward is infrastructure. Pipes too small for high density development.
  14. City will be working on that this year too. Part of water/waste water budget.
  15. “it’s going to be like an omelette down here, we’re going to break a lot of eggs.” Gibson on Ward 1’s immediate future.
  16. @TheFeenux He means construction-wise speaking. Lots of construction.
  17. Some concern about the new lights being installed at ball diamonds. They will apparently have a 9 pm cut off.
  18. I think the concern was for spring and summer, and that they’re not on all night. They can be adjusted too. 
  19. A lot of horror stories about the intersection at York/Victoria, AKA: the worst corner in #Guelph for accidents.
  20. That fenced off portion on York/Victoria? Owned my Imperial Oil. The co. won;t let city on the site to test it, but they want to sell it.
  21. Basically, Imperial wants the city to buy that land, where the old Texeco sat, sight unseen.
  22. Gibson says he and Bell are reminding city that they can’t build 1,100 new homes, all using Grange (passing thru 3 school zones)
  23. Grange Rd is at capacity. “Have to get people off Grange Rd.” says Gibson.
  24. York Rd. land will have highest concentration of residential/commercial once constructed.
  25. Discussion with Loblaws is ongoing says Gibson. No timeline. In the meantime, pushing York Rd. development.
  26. Loblaws apparently still willing to play ball. Construction could be coming in 2018.
  27. RE: Loblaws lobbying. Political initiative not staff initiative.
  28. @adamadonaldson @TheFeenux They filmed a season of Canada’s Worst Driver there 5 years ago or so.
  29. Guthrie says he was talking to Loblaws last week. “I have no more updates.”
  30. “I’m using all my energy to get you guys a grocery store,” Guthrie says.
  31. Bell says efforts to get another grocery chain didn’t work out.
  32. Gibson says there is something in progress for getting a grocery store to the East End, probably not on the Lablaws site tho.
  33. @TheFeenux York Rd. is being developed over the land further north that Loblaws owns.
  34. Did the city turn down a grocery store to go into the old Legion? Bell says Legion land wasn’t zoned, competitors ganged up to stop rezone
  35. City now doing the homework first, and then change the zoning. What’s happening on York Rd. now.
  36. 250 person wait list for downtown parking permits.
    “They all park in front of my house,” woman says.
  37. $140 Milion backlog in capital projects. We’re facing a crisis, says Gibson. Not unique to #Guelph tho.
  38. 2nd and 3rd floors of many DT buildings empty, says Gibson. Companies reluctant to relocate b/c parking.
  39. 4 new parkades coming. 2 in the next 2/3 years.
    Wilson: 350 spots added.
    Neeve: 250 spots added
  40. East parkade at Old Quebec St also to be refurbished in the next couple of years.
  41. Office space above Planet Bean been empty since City moved out.
  42. Parking situation DT also one of the hold ups on new library.
  43. Gibson: renewed paid parking downtown is “going to ramp up slowly.”
  44. Haven’t invested in parking DT since 1983, but ppl still not getting on transit.
  45. GO Transit is going to pay for a portion of the Neeve St lot.
  46. Question about stalls in the parkade for bicycles. Secure lockable room in the core for bikes is coming, says Mayor Guthrie.
  47. Going to get worst b4 it gets better DT for parking. New stock must come online b4 refurbishment of OQS lots.
  48. Gibson says he, Guthrie and Bell are unified in view that council has failed to acknowledge that capital costs were being undercut.
  49. Every year we don’t do anything, we fall $25 million further behind.
  50. Gibson says council agrees that this is not a problem they want to give to the next council.
  51. Without a plan, no use to putting money aside, Gibson says.
  52. Guelph Chamber wants an asset management plan too.
  53. Next step, Gibson hopes, is a “measured” rationalization of services.
  54. Slowing down, not cutting services, in order to allow more money freed for capital budget.
  55. There are private business interests, not a sell off, in partnering with the city on. The “Enterprise” Model.
  56. Some shaking heads, but Gibson says it’s a conversation we have to have.
  57. Question aboutt the $40 million spent on Niska Bridge and Police HQ renos.
  58. Bell says she’s exactly right, about this putting us in financial situations we don;t need to go.
  59. Gibson says he and Bell agree on 99% of everything.
    Bell: “Except who’s the handsomest.”
  60. “I’m really connected to my money”
    Overhead at Ward 1 town hall
  61. Tax levy will not be 1st resort, it will be the last one.
  62. Bell says it’s a 10% levy for 10 years. Will cost taxpayer btwn $8K-$16K
  63. Leadership is having all the conversations before the last resort, says Gibson.
  64. “A lot of great and different ways to get to where we want to be.” Gibson says this is not a cut and grab council
  65. Guthrie says historically tax levies used for hospitals. As it was in #Guelph.
  66. Capital funding of a hospital is municipal. 90% provincial, but 10% municipal.
  67. Guthrie asks if ppl would rather see tax levy for expanded emergency room.
  68. All levels of gov’t “asking for more and more and it’s got to stop” one guy exclaims
  69. About 3/4 of the crowd would be okay with 4 yr, 1-2% tax levy for new hospital renos
  70. Build hospital in the south end? Zero to do with that, says Guthrie. That comes from hospital board.
  71. $15 million upgrade to ambulatory care and emergency room needed. State of the art in 5/6 years is what hospital is looking too.
  72. Gibson has expressed his concern, and Liz Sandals told him she’s listening to those concerns.
  73. No secret we have a shortage of walk-in clinics, says Gibson.
  74. It was an answer to a question about the the over reliance on emergency rooms for care.
  75. 75 Wyndham just opened as a medical clinic and it’s already packed.
  76. Question about redevelopment of Wellington/Gordon. AKA: the 2ndary plan.
  77. Guthrie: Still some OMB issues, land owners went to the board. Not quite settled yet.
  78. The project morphed from one that move businesses closer to Wellington rather than knocking them down.
  79. Bell: Don’t want a new tax, but a reallocation of funds. Existing stormwater funding will move out of tax base, “double dip” being debated
  80. From fairness POV better to levy according to stormwater production on your property.
  81. Future council (or staff) won’t be able to politicized stormwater again, Gibson.
  82. Concern about parking behind development on Biltmore lands. Can/will the city review once the project is complete?
  83. Deal’s not perfect, but it’s better than usual, says Bell. The ward has been very reasonable in reaction, he adds.
  84. 64 units, 1 to 1.5 cars per unit is the number.
  85. A lot of these people will be on transit, which is good, Gibson adds.
  86. Traffic light installation installed according to merit FYI
  87. Any thought about reconsidering motion about Niska Bridge, given the 2% levy?
  88. “You’re not always going to agree or understand my decisions,” Gibson says.
  89. If we were building our city today I would put the bridge at Stone, Gibson says.
  90. Going to take the path of least resistance, Gibson says, Niska already there.
  91. Do you want 2 swaths going thru this valley, or just one, Gibson asks. He tho he hates it going through Niska.
  92. Did we evaluate Stone Rd? Why can’t we do Stone Rd? Those were Gibson’s considerations IE: Niska.
  93. @adamadonaldson Amen to that. Three things you should never politicize: sewage, leashing cats and stormwater. LOL.
  94. We’re building Niska within existing roadway (footprint). A bump up request is going to be about something else. Gibson doing rumor control
  95. Question about road crossings DT with increased pedestrian traffic. Trails are the cheese and traffic is the trap.
  96. Bell has a plan. With Metrolinx double tracking, and Bell is betting that the imbuttments on the bridge will have to be redone.
  97. In order to do that dams will be set up upstream, which will allow the clearance under Macdonell to connect those trails.
  98. Bell has a big vision. I can’t keep up, but he isn’t getting traction from staff so…
  99. Anyone know why the river trail is blocked off at Wyndham and York?
  100. City has right of way for city utility vehicles.
  101. Second median on Tricar development. Ppl racing down Neeve St. How to do traffic calming in that area? Practice for York Rd. closure
  102. FYI: this townhall was supposed to end at 8:30 pm
  103. Question about if anyone’s trying to replace the Mercury?
  104. Apparently, councillors are hearing a lot about getting a new newspaper off the ground.
  105. Gibson has legitimate concern about state-run news. Bell too.
  106. Question about cost of dog licensing increasing. Mayor says pet bylaw is coming up to review. Acknowledges it can be punitive.
  107. Humane Society costs $500K per year. Licensing fees bring in $70-80K.
  108. Why are we not comparing ourselves to Windsor who have had no tax increase for 8 years?
  109. Attrition, says Gibson. It can be done over time and free up money every year. Done thru service rationalization.
  110. That’s hard politically b/c your telling ppl they’re not getting as much as they used to.
  111. A lot of pressure in Windsor says Bell, economic difficulties.
  112. $850K got added to budget by 7 votes, Gibson points out. 7 votes added 3% increase.
  113. Gibson is hoping that there will be more public pressure about keeping taxes inline for next year’s budget.
  114. Council and staff don’t realize that ppl in Guelph get “Guelph wages” not “Toronto wages” one man says.
  115. Gibson: Community needs to be heard more and more.
  116. It’s not a narrative of negative, says Gibson.
  117. Q: Who does the CAO report to?
    Gibson says CAO has 2K employees, and we need to be respectful.
  118. Gibson says Guthrie has a good working relationship with CAO.
  119. Guthrie says this conversation is inappropriate for the setting.
  120. Comment: Wants to see bylaw for property owners to not push snow on the road.
  121. Bell: Bylaw already exists. Call bylaw when you see it happen.
  122. Q: what can the public do to put pressure on councillors to not come back with “hand out”?
  123. Bell says call the city councillor. Not email. Call.
  124. On an expression of policy, i.e.: don’t want an answer back, it’s better to call.
  125. Gibson: We need to have honest conversations as to whether or not we should be running the Sleeman Centre (for example)
  126. Message from the business community clear, Gibson hopes council feels the pressure.
  127. Gibson appreciates positive feedback. And criticisms.
  128. That was the plan presented, but no decisions were made. Council votes were to accept the reports presented. 
  129. Someone asks, what happens if councillors walk out? Hm.
  130. Point of order: You can’t leave when there’s a motion on the table.
  131. On budget night 2, it was known that service rationalization was off the table.
  132. Gibson hopes that the councillors that said they’d support it in 2017, come through with the service review.
  133. It’s in the plan presented to council Monday. When it approved to begin construction the sign will go in. 
  134. @adamadonaldson Windsor has declining population, negative growth. Growing cities must add 20% of growth costs onto existing tax base.
  135. @adamadonaldson @Ward1Guelph On that we agree. Nobody likes 7-6 votes, even when there is good debate.
  136. @SFrederick0 @adamadonaldson Guelph $3.80 per rider. Mississauga, $2.21per rider York Region $4.49 per rider. % about same I’ll need to dig
  137. @adamadonaldson our league has games beginning at 8:15. Lights on at Guelph Lake until 10:45 or so….
  138. @MrStaffordHT @MikeGamble @adamadonaldson that was requested from an attendee. I can imagine an auto shut off at 11pm. Not 9pm. #PlayBall


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