LIVE BLOG: City Council Meeting for May 9, 2016

After the big meeting of just a few weeks ago, we get ready for something a bit more sedate: planning matters. You can click here for the amended agenda from City Hall, and you can click here to read Politico’s preview of tonight’s meeting. For the complete blow-by-blow of tonight’s council meeting, you can follow me on Twitter, or follow along below via Storify.

Guelph City Council Meeting – May 9, 2016

Live blog from the meeting starting at 7 pm

  1. Long line-up of people signing in for tonight’s meeting.
  2. “Downtown property”, “staff correspondence” and “CAO contract” on tonight’s closed meeting agenda.
  3. It’s now 7 ‘o’ clock, only staff in the council chamber so far.
  4. Mayor Guthrie says council needs 5 minutes to “get themselves together before starting.”
  5. Council received info on Downtown matter, and direction given on CAO. Correspondence will be discussed after open meeting.
  6. Guthrie wants to talk about #FortMacFire. Extending thoughts and prayers on Guelph’s behalf.
  7. All aspects of consent agenda to be voted on. Passes 13-0
  8. That was for rezoning Guelph Place, the car wash next to Boston Pizza and the demolition of a Metcalfe
  9. First up, development of 19 homes on Hyland Rd.
  10. A total of 10 homes along a new cul-de-sac will be built north & 9 homes will be built on a similar cul-de-sac on the south side.
  11. There will be one designation about this development, and one correspondence.
  12. Cllr Van Hellemond is asking about the adjusting of surrounding yards.
  13. Cllr Salisbury quotes a correspondence regarding the tagging on the property. Staff believes that’s happening already.
  14. Cllr Piper asks whether this development will be on public roads. Staff member believes that’s the case.
  15. Cllr Gordon says there aren’t any difficulties on paper with this development, but worries about traffic flow on a nearby road.
  16. He’s also concerned that nearby wetland might be compromised.
  17. Chris DeVriendt says that this is a key aspect that will have to be explored.
  18. DeVriendt adds that traffic will be looked at as the application moves forward.
  19. Cllr. Billings asking about a particular spot in the plan, it may be unusually configured.
  20. That’s it for staff report. John Dunnink the developer will speak now.
  21. Dunnink (pronounced Done-ink) has been building homes in #Guelph since 1970.
  22. Dunnink says they’re aiming to keep home size the same for the whole neighbourhood.
  23. In other words, the new homes he’ll build will be the same size as older homes.
  24. Dunning says he wants to give the city at least 2 hectares of land back to protect wetlands.
  25. Also going to try and transplant as many trees as possible to the boundaries of the site.
  26. New development is going to “an asset to Guelph” says Dunnink
  27. No council Qs for Dunnink. Eric McCraney is the only designate.
  28. McCraney is speaking to the protection of the wetland.
  29. “Wetlands can’t be defined by the water’s edge,” says McCraney.
  30. “A slopping wooden grassland” says McCraney. Ideal ground for snapping turtles, he adds.
  31. McCraney says he’s surprised to be here to speak against the application.
  32. McCraney invites everyone to come out the area and check out its natural beauty.
  33. Mr. Galway a last minute development. Lives next to the land slated for development.
  34. The view McCraney mentioned was “very impactful” in decision to move there.
  35. Concerned that all trees behind the home will be removed. So very large and mature trees set for destruction.
  36. A lot of grading will have to be done. How will this affect run-off?
  37. Loves his backyard, has a pool and enjoys the privacy. Because of slope, his yard will look up at a wall.
  38. Cllr Bell asks to see an overlay of the land and where the lots will be.
  39. Next up, 671 Victoria Road North. They want to build a “mixed use development”…
  40. …with commercial space and 124 apartment units in two six-storey buildings and another one-storey building on the site.
  41. The proposed commercial space seems likely to be a pharmacy, and the plan also includes 147 surface parking space on the site.
  42. There’s at least one delegation and 20 correspondences for this one.
  43. A drive thru for a bank is also part of the plan.
  44. There will also be 199 spaces worth of underground parking.
  45. Cllr Van Hellemond asks about the grading since Victoria Rd slopes.
  46. Vic Road is 5 metres higher at the front of the site than it is from the back.
  47. Van Hellemond also asks about the one exit from the underground parking. There may be blind spots created.
  48. Van Hellemond “surprised” how many big trucks use that road, thinks that traffic lights may have to go up.
  49. As currently zoned, nearby apartments could go up to 8 storeys.
  50. Cllr Billings questions the compatibility btw 6-storey towers and neighbourhood full of houses.
  51. Currently, zoning allows 2-storeys, an urban design brief has been asked for.
  52. A traffic study has been submitted and will be reviewed by staff.
  53. Cllr Gordon says there’s a common theme from residents was pre-knowledge that 2-stoeys would be max. “This is pretty radical”
  54. The slope “looks problematic” says Gordon. But there will have to be a “monster buffer” to be adequate.
  55. Cllr Piper asks about the mixed use zone. The priority of the site shifted from commercial to residential.
  56. Staff says the development has asked for 6 meters instead of the usual 12 for 6 story buildings.
  57. Cllr Van Hellemond asks about whether people in the northern most building will look into the yards of neighbours.
  58. Astrid Clos and Saad Faraj will speak for 1830334 Ontario Inc.
  59. Close they’ve received the correspondence and they are here to listen.
  60. Placement of the bank is because staff wanted to have a building right at the corner.
  61. Clos says that 5th and 6th floor are set back so they don’t look right down into neighbouring back yards.
  62. The principal commercial function is maintained b/c apartment parking is underground (to answer Piper’s Q).
  63. Because of the setback of floor 5 and 6. It’s only *technically* 4 storeys hence an 8 meter buffer rather than 12.
  64. Architect Saad Faraj now presenting. He’s been working on the project for 3 years.
  65. Promises to try and address the concerns of all of the neighbours.
  66. “The site has to be developed, it can’t stay the way it is.” Faraj showing ariel photos of the grass and sand on site now.
  67. Cllr Billings asks if this is the shadow study. It is not.
  68. Upper floors set back 9 meters from the face of the building. A woman chuckled at that behind me.
  69. Van Hellemond asks if Clos client built the houses next to the property. Clos says they’re aware of the slope there tho.
  70. Cllr Salisbury asks about difference between drive thru for bank and for fast food outlet?
  71. Clos says more cars. The zoning only allows for financial institution.
  72. The likelihood of rezoning for fast food drive thru in future is unlikely.
  73. Paul Harrison is the only listed delegate to speak on this matter.
  74. Harrison talks about finding garbage along there. “More and more garbage” each day, plus vandalism.
  75. Had a whole bunch more concerns since finding the plans.
  76. “This is going to be a white elephant” Harrison says. His neighbour feel the same.
  77. He says his neighbours aren’t here tonight b/c they think this is a done deal.
  78. Harrison says he was told be realtor that areas was zoned commercial, meaning businesses.
  79. Asked about apartments, and realtor and builder said it was “highly unlikely.” That weighed heavily in their decision.
  80. “Traffic will happen a lot,” Harrison says.
  81. Between 6 and 10 hours of shadow in neighbouring backyards says Harrison.
  82. This many more cars in the area, pollution will go up. People are not going to be living and working in area.
  83. Average life in apartment 1-2 years, Harrison says. Source: Google.
  84. In other words, they’re not going to have same care about the neighbourhood.
  85. New tree line will provide “cover for vandals” Harrison says.
  86. “I’m not against change, I’m not against a commercial building,” he says.
  87. Cllr Gordon says there’s a pretty good process at the city, and public input is asked for at every level.
  88. Cllr Piper asks if neighbourhood has an association. A group working with a developer can be facilitated. Harrison welcomes that.
  89. Another area resident comes forward, Jignesh Nayak.
  90. He lived in Alabama for a while, came to Guelph looking for best city near Milton.
  91. Concerned about the safety of the kids playing or riding bikes nearby.
  92. Most of the pop. in the area are young families or people near retirement.
  93. About 30 people in the gallery to hear this issue, so if there are people holding back…
  94. Andrew Billick (sp) will live in the shadow of the buildings. The slop will make this more of a 7/8 storey building.
  95. The height is the largest issue says Andrew (and the crowd).
  96. Only receiving the application tonight. NO FINAL DECISION TONIGHT!
  97. Cllr Piper looking for comment of impact on CEI, waste and snow removal.
  98. Piper wonders if an initial meeting between neighbours and developer might be warranted.
  99. Guthrie says they can’t force parties together, but city can facilitate discussions.
  100. Cllr Van Hellemond asks for a “finished” picture of the landscaping.
  101. Cllr Bell notes developer is asking for additional amendments, not sure why the developers asking for them.
  102. Bell also concerned about safety of pedestrians at the mouth of the underground parking.
  103. “An appetite for compromise” Bell says, hopes they can reach it.
  104. Cllr Downer notes that this is also a gateway into the city.
  105. Guthrie wants to see about lighting (as usual) and willingness of developer of permeable surface parking to help with stormwater.
  106. Gate noise and garage door noise also be investigated, asked Guthrie.
  107. WIMBY/NIMBY? No Guthrie wants QUIMBY (Quality in My Back Yard.)
  108. Cllr Downer speaking to Association of Municipalities of Ontario re: Support for Fort McMurray – Call to Action
  109. Fire still not under control she says, and asks “What would that be like for us here in Guelph?”
  110. AMO could leverage that, but they might now. Could be $5K direct to Red Cross.
  111. Cllr Allt point out that there are a number of Indigenous communities in the area. Perhaps $8K would not be out of Q.
  112. Cllr Piper wonders if there’s ways to offer in kind support. Other resources.
  113. Ann Pappert says Emergency staff in contact with Fort Mac counterparts. No request made yet.
  114. Mayor Guthrie asks if there’s a way council can engage local community for matching funds.
  115. @adamadonaldson Fort Mac FD has commissioned a statue. Maybe Guelph could chip in.
  116. Allt says council should encourage Guelphites to beat the city’s $5K
  117. Allt also suggests that #Guelph could raise Fort Mac flag at city hall in show of support.
  118. Downer says Guelphites have probably already donated more than $5K.
  119. Gordon says Cllr Gibson attacked him for making political attack on him, “abusive and insulting words”
  120. It was a misunderstanding, Gordon says. It’s a matter of impugning Gordon’s integrity.
  121. Gordon says it’s with regret he’s doing it. Says Gibson is one of the best on council at looking out for taxpayers but…
  122. …he plans on taking this to integrity commissioner w/o an apology.
  123. Mayor Guthrie says he has to make a ruling about whether point of privilege is necessary. Wishes Gordon/Gibson could have settled this.
  124. Guthrie says he doesn’t want a back and forth.
  125. Guthrie says he doesn’t want a back and forth.
  126. Gibson says he and Gordon has had some back and forth, failed to accept and won’t let it go.
  127. Gibson quoting a guest post on Gordon’s Ward 2 blog.
  128. Hofland calls point of order. Guthrie threatens to use “Thor thing”
  129. The can of worms Guthrie didn’t want to open is opened. “We need to rise above this.”
  130. “I don’t want to hear anything from 6 months ago.”
  131. Gibson apologizes, but thought tweet fit into Gordon’s narrative.
  132. “In the future, please, I’ll buy the coffee, but let’s do this outside the public realm.” – Guthrie.
  133. Motion to back into closed meeting passes. That’s it from council tonight.
  134. “Councillors, back room now please.” Guthrie snaps.


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