LIVE BLOG: City Council Meeting for June 27, 2016

It’s going to be a busy one at council tonight with transit issues, budget variances, and maybe a *whole* new way to conduct the business of council. 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 – June 27, 2016

Live blog from the meeting starting at 7 pm

  1. No further motions/announcements, but Guthrie acknowledges Clack for first meeting as DCAO.
  2. Allt brings special resolution to declare Old Quebec St food court open land and up for sale. Passes 12-0
  3. Gordon moves that Jim Crocker be appointed to the Elliott Board for a three year term. Passes 12-0
  4. Allt asks Meagher if he thinks this problem can be solved with what’s being offered and he does.
  5. Gibson encourages ppl having trouble with transit to send him an email
  6. Gibson says half his complaints don’t come outside peak hours.
  7. Council needs to direct staff to look at re-activating peak service, says Thomson.
  8. CAO Thomson says staff was in a quandary, can’t recommend something council voted against. The request had to come from council.
  9. Billings recounts the decision in committee, says her motion at committee was to do as Gordon suggested. Plan will cost $75K
  10. Gordon asks why peak service can’t be restored.
  11. Buses on those routes will head out 5 minutes ahead of them to make sure people along route make connections at GCS.
  12. Some routes will have helper buses all day long; others only during peak times.
  13. Most impacted routes were analyzed, 2,3,5,8,10,11,13 are all affected.
  14. Meagher says revenue is off by 1.7%, but doesn’t have exact figures handy.
  15. Meagher says there has been a reduction in ridership for May over last year, in response to Salisbury Q
  16. “This is a small scale way to mitigate that,” Clack adds.
  17. “Residents have been challenged,” Clack says.
  18. Salisbury, this is a reaction to the short comings of that service. “Is this a reaction to the storm we created?”
  19. Clack adds that a conversation was had with communications already, city will make sure that’s clear.
  20. Meagher confirms this is an adjustment, not a return of service.
  21. Hofland wants to clarify that the city is not reinstating peak service for the rest of summer.
  22. On extra buses, Hofland says it’s good news, and she’s glad there’s a report.
  23. Motion on statement to be read after “O Canada” and silent reflection about Indigenous territorial lands. Allt hopes it’s unanimous.
  24. Clack says this has been in the works for a while. Legal, culture and tourism have been at this fore a while.
  25. Gordon asks for acknowledgement of meeting on traditional First Nations land, and to coordinate with wording with appropriate groups.
  26. Amendment for report back in 6 months, passes 11-1.
  27. Back to Bell’s idea: outcome of #1 will dictate direction.
  28. “it’s a mish-mash that doesn’t give us any benefit,” MacKinnon says.
  29. MacKinnon can’t support that amendment tho. It runs into meals, and it runs the same detriments.
  30. Gibson didn’t endorse the decision, but wants to amend #6 that CotW take place at 3:30 pm instead of 2.
  31. Guthrie asks for vote to suspend procedural by-law, than a vote to reconsider. For now, vote to go past midnight.
  32. Bell, Billings, Gibson, Hofland, Piper, and Van Hellemond voted against the original motion back in April FYI.
  33. “I hate to use the word ‘pilot project'” but that’s what he’s getting at.
  34. Would it feel better if you could views this direction as a way to try something new + 6 month follow-up with data, Guthrie asks.
  35. Guthrie tries again to find consensus. Are we agreed that we’re worried about the unknown, he asks.
  36. Salisbury says voting against #4 kills CotW. Doesn’t know why a line can’t be extracted and voted on separately.
  37. Wettstein: 4 and 5 are “fundamental reconsider motions” he says. Need a motion to reconsider if they’re on the table.
  38. Piper wants to support many recommendations, she doesn’t want to vote against the whole thing,
  39. Matter of procedure. “I can’t allow this to fly, it’s so contradictory,” Guthrie says.
  40. Guthrie concerned with what’s about to happen. “We need to do a motion to reconsider […] we are completely contradictory to the direction”
  41. Still, Piper not convinced the problems will be solved with CotW…
  42. Piper says Downer has raised a really good point. It’s council’s conduct, and she’s guilty too.
  43. Downer says transit issue earlier was a great reason why this needs to move forward. Some of the same Qs asked at committee as tonite
  44. Piper moves to pass Recommendations 1-3,7,8, 12-21 now.
  45. Decision was made in April for CotW to start in September. Would need a notice of decision, which could not be passed tonight.
  46. “The direction in April was to do this” says Guthrie. Will need a motion to reconsider.
  47. Piper suggests that maybe the change be held over until 2018 rather than changing “mid-stream”
  48. If 4 is voted against, then CotW will basically be defeated.
  49. O’Brien says they need an implementation plan if they’re going to move forward with this in Sept.
  50. 15) That Council meeting as a shareholder be held as special meetings on separate dates.
  51. 11) That the reporting schedule for the remainder of the Council term be approved.
  52. 9) That Council appoint Chairs to handle the material coming forward to Committee of the Whole from the Services Area departments.
  53. 6) That Committee of the Whole meetings start at 2 p.m. on the first Monday of the month.
  54. 5) That staff be directed to proceed with the Committee of the Whole implementation plan.
  55. 4) That staff be directed to amend the Procedural By-law & the Council Terms of Reference to implement the Committee of the Whole structure
  56. Piper thinks CotW works better with a small board, not a board of 13.
  57. Piper says there are 6 recommendations she doesn’t support: 4,5,6,9,11, and 15.
  58. Recommendation #10 voted 11-1 to be eliminated by council. MacKinnon sole no vote.
  59. Gordon wonders if there’s a way to train delegates.
  60. Gordon think one meeting rule is unenforceable unless there’s some kind of judge to decide.
  61. Downer says the public can self monitor on what is new information.
  62. MacKinnon amends to delete item #10, the one meeting one. He’s for it, but wants the discussion now to save time.
  63. MacKinnon puts the motion to implement recommendations on the floor. Downer seconds.
  64. Guthrie looking for feedback on the speaking twice issue, and delegation priority.
  65. Pritchard also likes Breezy Corners breakfast with Allt/Gordon, wishes more councillors crossed wards for similar meets.
  66. Likes CotW structure, and likes 1 meeting per delegate.
  67. Seen improvements in transparency, not efficiency says Pritchard.
  68. But seriously, Pritchard wants to hear source of rumour of cap on delegations.
  69. The single most efficient thing council could do is eliminate delegates like me, says Pritchard. Turn it all over to Hugh Whiteley, he jokes
  70. Ted Pritchard is the last delegation of the evening.
  71. Whiteley likes CotW b/c it provides 2 stage decision making.
  72. How can the community make their case best, asks Whitely.
  73. Whitely says the CotW structure is of benefit, it helps to build a coalition of groups and individuals to help council make a decision.
  74. Whitely says the 1st principle of community engagement is that everyone as a opportunity to take part. This did not happen.
  75. Hugh Whitely is now up after Petric’s short and sweet delegation.
  76. Council is walking a fine line with Charter rights, Petric adds. Someone may submit a complaint.
  77. “Defining new information” is a concern, Petric says. Staff doesn’t know everything on the internet.
  78. Wasn’t in the staff recommendations, but it was in the report.
  79. Guthrie says there’s no where in report that says the discussion will be limited to 3 people on each side. That’s contested.
  80. “Facade of fairness” Holstein notes about issues being limited to 3 delegates on each side.
  81. “Since when is the prime interest of democracy to save time” Holstein says.
  82. Holstein says that council should hear from delegates 1st, then come back and discuss the issue.
  83. Brian Holstein up next, happy that he’s still awake.
  84. Watson concerned about people trying to be strategic, council not getting enough info at committee.
  85. Allt tries to press Watson on the preference, would she rather delegate at 11:15 or 5:15?
  86. Sense of being heard important to democracy and fair and tolerant society, says Watson.
  87. Delegations are here for community as well as council, says Watson.
  88. Watson asks how often ppl talk at both council and committee now?
  89. “Should be celebrating the fact that citizens are giving up their time to be civilc engaged.”
  90. Watson notes initiatives for council to engage citizens, but message of either/or delegation is anti-democratic.
  91. O’Brien says a year seems fair. Delegates, chairs, a lot to consider.
  92. Guthrie asks if a year is valid following on Downer’s point.
  93. There’s going to be difficulty defining new info, says Downer.
  94. Amarosi says council meets will be shorter because CotW do the heavy discussion. That’s what happens in other communities.
  95. O’Brien says that “may or may not happen” depending on issue. Maybe council gets it out of their system at CotW
  96. There were some Mm-Hms from the gallery on that one 😉
  97. Wettstein asks if giving all the councillors “two bits” at CotW, won’t that increase the time of the meet, not decrease.
  98. O’Brien says there may be that assumption now, there may be a need to educate the public further.
  99. Wettstein may there may be confusion about whether or not the decision will be perceived to be made at CotW. Ppl may not wait to delegate.
  100. O’Brien says he encourages staff to take flex time, but that’s not always possible. Esp. for IT staff. RE:saving on overtime.
  101. Piper says she remembers voting for an expansion package for electronic agendas. O’Brien doesn’t know about that, but will look.
  102. O’Brien says the intent is to have a mandate for ongoing training, but chairs are priority.
  103. Gibson asks if training be extended from chairs to councillors so everyone aware of procedures.
  104. Gibson asks if 2 pm is make or break. O’Brien says it was feedback from council/public on late meetings. “Decision fatigue”
  105. An item on info report wouldn’t be extracted “in the moment”, public would see in advanced it would be extracted following a deadline.
  106. The electric correspondence between council and staff on Friday will then be shared with media so we get heads up.
  107. Salisbury asking about info reports. Would they be available to public as well through agenda package.
  108. Billings asking about “new info” caveat. Won’t be able to delegate on same issue with new info and make a different point.
  109. Council will still have the ability to extract reports – like sign by-law variance and demolitions – if they choose.
  110. Average length of a committee meeting: 1 3/4 hours.
  111. Hofland asks if people were made away council is PT job, thus difficulty making meets in the afternoon for those with FT jobs.
  112. Hofland says many of the changes could be implemented with current structure. About 80%
  113. MacKinnon asks if money saved from going paperless might be reinvested in tech for accessibility. Will be part of consideration says CC.
  114. Gibson asks if changing chairs early given change to CotW might be advisable. O’Brien says those app’ments happen at end of year with others
  115. Gibson asks if a countdown clock might be part of the consideration. It can. Maybe even for councillors too, jokes O’Brien.
  116. Feasibly, the message would be getting to council as a whole anyone, just a two week window btw CotW and council
  117. Allt with “devil’s advocate question” when does someone present to council vs committee?
  118. Existing chairs will chair their section of the CotW.
  119. Right now, the agenda is a massive .pdf. Tonight’s agenda is over 350 pages.
  120. Revisted landing page for the agenda. Click not the report you want, and the link will take you there.
  121. Rogers will be able to broadcast all committee meets at 2 pm. Bingo permitting.
  122. There will be opportunities to delegate to the whole council at two difference opportunities now.
  123. new schedule is familiar and predictable, O’Brien says.
  124. Currently, a quorum of council attend standing committees.
  125. Looking to move receipt itemss to a regular info dump every Friday to media and public.
  126. Public, council and staff engagement been key to developing this.
  127. Okay, Stephen O’Brien to talk about implanting Committee on the Whole
  128. 1 Minute Warning. Then, Committee on the Whole presentation.
  129. Transit report passes unanimously. Now a break.
  130. Guthrie says there needs to be a customer service focus in this.
  131. DCAO says there’s a review of affordable pass, that review could look at new student pass.
  132. Allt says other sectors might make a case to get free transit for them. Wants to see overhaul of whole fair structure.
  133. Salisbury said this is a convo that’s happened before, can it be included somewhere else?
  134. “There is no free ride, if you’ll pardon the pun,” says Allt.
  135. Guthrie asks if that’s something to be brought to council on a committee level.
  136. Clack: it would be nice to have specific direction from council on that, not sure if that was part of broader work.
  137. Is that something staff could look at, and not like a HS bus pass equivalent to UPass.
  138. Guthrie wants to look at free transit for school children. Kingston started with grade 9s and are now up to grade 11s.
  139. That would captured #3 right now, talks with engineering, and traffic says Clack.
  140. Guthrie wonders if bike land could be moved to other direct routes, which would allow for BRT. Doesn’t want this seen as “this or that.”
  141. you’d think we made cars in this city or something … provide/make transit a viable option and people will use it 
  142. Guthrie wants to ask a few “bank shot” questions.
  143. @adamadonaldson well that’s up to Council to give transit resources to promote transit better to the community.
  144. Bell wants to know what Transit’s “commitment to service” will be.
  145. “It’s not going to come to us just by spending money on it,” says Bell. “You’ve got to show us the brilliance.”
  146. Bell is “happy to get on the bus” but building an effective transit system is “extremely difficult.”
  147. Wants to know city is “buying something” with increased funding.
  148. Bell would like to see forecast/commitment that extra $ will = extra riders.
  149. Guelph seems to get in a “traffic jam” on transit. Other cities see it as investment, not cost.
  150. People want to get out of their cars and get to where they’re going safely and comfortably.
  151. Allt says he and Gordon hear about transit issues and traffic jams all the time.
  152. Vote passes to refer clause 5 to Sept. Bell, MacKinnon and Van Hellemond vote against.
  153. Guthrie: I would hope some of the ppl around here would support it in a few months if staff recommends.
  154. Guthrie going to support the referral, but there’s validity in pushing it off to Sept.
  155. So was the exec in favour of having Transit part of the pilot, asks Guthrie for clarification.
  156. Convos about service reviews started in last council, but staff has always looked for efficiencies.
  157. Cllr MacKinnon, who’s joined the meeting, wants transit on the list today.
  158. Difference btw waiting till Sept or starting to scoping over the summer.
  159. If clause 5 passes, DCAO will put “more meat on the bones” in terms of developing a plan.
  160. Council gets 2 for the price of 1. Will finish service review framework, and there will be nothing more till Sept.
  161. Bell asks for staff to comment on the amendment, how it will change things.
  162. Allt: major concern is service is review isn’t singular, it’s plural. Other areas might be considered as well.
  163. I lost my train of thought at end haha just so tired of Councils over last 2 decades not moving Guelph forward w/ transit @adamadonaldson
  164. Piper amends to refer clause 5 to the service review process.
  165. Piper would like to know alternatives to comprehensive plan, and would like to see scope of other priorities.
  166. Various motions will be separated out for voting.
  167. Guthrie throws it to Downer for recommendation, and then to Wettstein for comment.
  168. Selling point of GCS is getting on GO train and Greyhound, but “spine” won’t go to GCS.
  169. LRT though he won’t see it till 50, says Petric.
  170. Piper asks for one singular recommendation that he’s excited about.
  171. “I want this city to approve this and move forward,” Petric concerned about comments from council on Uber. That 1 component
  172. Petric tired of seeing Guelph take a step forward and two steps back.
  173. New “spine” route is not what the city wants, it what it needs, says Petric.
  174. Frequency and coverage is what this is trying to do, says Petric.
  175. “This is what we should have had years ago,” says Petric. “It puts us on track wot where we should be going.”
  176. @adamadonaldson @steven_petric could by-pass Norfolk, go down Wyndham to GCS. I live near Arkell/Gordon. A bus every 10 mins. appeals to me.
  177. Guthrie trying to rally council. There’s still a delegate to be heard, right @steven_petric?
  178. “This might have been solved if we had moved to Committee on the Whole” says Downer, foreshadowing.
  179. @adamadonaldson @steven_petric Mind Mixer results don’t necessarily correlate with final recommended changes to transit routes.
  180. “They’ve been doing work on something we approved a little while ago,” says Guthrie. Amarosi says that is correct.
  181. Staff working on service review shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, says Guthrie, part of the CAO mandate for 2016
  182. “There’s no funding in anyone’s budget to do this,” says Amarosi.
  183. First meeting today, looking at stake holder depts that *have to* be a part of this service review.
  184. Amarosi says staff is coming to council in September with service review framework. Transit will be one of the pilots.
  185. Piper looking to make the community engagement document more available online. Clack says comm team will make that available.
  186. Cllr Piper asking how citizens might learn the results of the “mind mixer” (sp?)
  187. “We have another side here,” notes Guthrie.
  188. “Transit never fully pays for itself,” notes Meagher.
  189. “We expect to experience [overloads] when the students are back in school” says Meagher.
  190. “What I’m hearing just now makes me more interesting in digging down to see what that subsidy should be,” says Gordon.
  191. “We always look at fare increases,” says Meagher.
  192. Meagher “We feel there will be increased revenue in 2017.”
  193. “How am I assured you’re picking the right cherries?” says Bell.
  194. Meagher reminds, “this is not a cherry picking episode […] this is a holistic system.”
  195. $3.7 million the total cost, but Meagher says he needs notes to get how that breaks down.
  196. How much are we trimming, and how much for the new service, Bell asks
  197. …there’s a cost that he’s wondering if whether or services trimmed in non-productive areas to pay for it.
  198. Cllr Bell: On side with proposals, thinks city should have done it a long time ago. But…
  199. July 13 will provide council with 10 year history on capital, and demonstrate the gap.
  200. Hofland asks about what council will talk about at upcoming capital budget workshop. Need to have “big discussion” on transit.
  201. Step 1: Base 2016 service
    Step 2: Return to 2015 level
    Step 3: Expanded service.
  202. Hofland trying to get her mind around what happens next year.
  203. Cllr Hofland: double checks start date of changes.
  204. Meagher: “We’re providing ppl a different option.” More options to get where you’re going.
  205. “I think what we’ve found is that the star don’t align,” adds Salisbury.
  206. Salisbury: on budget night is was “well communicated to council that this had to have the stars align to make this work.”
  207. … when the spine is implemented (I meant to add)
  208. Be able to go north and south “pretty fast” says Meagher.
  209. We’re running a “just in time” operation says Colleen Clack. The route has to go perfectly for bus to stay on time.
  210. Salisbury: “I’ve got a lot of calls with people that are dissatisfied with the connections in service”
  211. Cllr Salisbury says he’s having trouble feeling confident talking about reducing peak service given this summer.
  212. Amorosi wants to see a long term capital funding expectations, so no false hope is raised.
  213. DCAO: there’s an annual replacement budget for buses.
  214. Cllr Salisbury following up on Billings Q about financial plan.
  215. A modal split is the % of travellers using a particular type of transport or # of trips using said type.
  216. $125M is over 5 year period too, Meagher notes.
  217. 2017/18 a total study will done for transit along with trail and active transport.
  218. Meagher: Guelph portion of expanded gas tax will be $4M more/year.
  219. Meagher a lot of things to take into consideration, transit looking to take advantage of fed/prov infrastructure funds.
  220. Billings notes “this is a massive financial undertaking” wonders what staff is thinking.
  221. Meagher: “This is a comprehensive package” Some routes are underperforming, so changes are being made.
  222. Staff says it will be one package presented in totality, but it will not be a “shopping list” what council can “cherry pick.”
  223. The 2017 budget will be presented at 2016 levels, and expansion package will be presented separately.
  224. Cllr Billings asks whether this is above and beyond what’s in the 10 year capital forecast.
    A: Yes.
  225. Opportunity through Federal budget for Transit funding (nation-wide) is over $125M over 10 years.
  226. A new facility for housing and maintenance of vehicles will also be needed as service expands.
  227. 24 new buses and 40 new operators will be needed for expanded service.
  228. Also looking to the future and inter-city transit system…
  229. BRT and LRT not immediate option for #Guelph, says Meagher. but he wants to open the conversation.
  230. Ppl surveyed did not want to remove bike lanes for transit only lanes, says Meagher.
  231. @adamadonaldson with no service to Guelph Central. Have to transfer or walk to stop on Norfolk
  232. Transit recommending 10 minute “spine” route north-to-south on Woolwich, Norfolk and Gordon.
  233. Transit hasn’t be able to see “all changes through to completion,” says Meagher.
  234. 2010 review of service: 81 recommendations, 44 achieved.
  235. City will move forward with renewed vision for transit in 2017, says Meagher.
  236. Recommendations for service expansion in 2017 in this report, plus long term plans.
  237. Back to Public Services, Guelph Transit Growth Opportunities.
  238. Cllr Hofland asks to pull report for Extra summer buses.
  239. No one council wants to extract report on Snow Disposal Facility.
  240. Cllr Downer presenting Public Services Committee report.
  241. Tender for Parkade will go out in September… 2/2
  242. Now on to Infrastructure, Development & Enterprise Committee. Tender for Wilson St construction will go out next month… 1/2
  243. Operating Variance Reporting Recommendations and 10 Carden Shared Space Inc. – Community Bond and Tax Incentive Program Request
  244. Corp. Services Comm: 2015 Final Year-End Report on Operating Variance Surplus Allocation and Deficit Funding… 1/2
  245. Audit Committee report accepted, now on to the Corporate Services Committee.
  246. @elizabethmcgee That’s so weird because they usually don’t rip the chicken till the second hour.
  247. Guthrie praises Museum staff for their outreach and drawing attn to #Guelph and honouring John McCrae.
  248. Presentation of Museum Award for Excellence in Community Programming.
  249. Now a presentation for @guelphmuseums for the “In Flanders Field” 100 year commemoration.
  250. As we wait for athletes, Guthrie thanks @cityofguelph and @gpsmedia for participating in Special Olympics last month
  251. Financial Statement and Auditor approval passes 12-0
  252. Motion to receive GJR Report to City passes 12-0
  253. True Confession: Cllr Salisbury reads a lot of annual reports (the put him to sleep).
  254. GJF lost a couple of customers in 2015, hoping to get them back despite CN competition.
  255. Mayor Guthrie notes that #Guelph is number 1 in Canada for number of B Corps.
  256. Cllr Allt asks how GJR can be used to the benefit of the city.
  257. General Manager of Biz. Develop. Peter Cartwright praises the work done by GJF.
  258. True Confession: @PhilAlltWard3 living the dream as member of railway board!
  259. Allt asks for “optimistic outlooks” for the future
  260. Allt says GJR is “ubiquitous” in the city, the main artery through Guelph.
  261. “Significant” investment in Eramosa Bridge. Biggest liability of 5 bridges owned by GJR, says Brown
  262. “It’s been an interesting year,” says Brown. Restructure and planning for focus and direction planned.
  263. Ian Brown, Chair of GJR Board, now going over the numbers.
  264. Council will now sit as shareholder of Guelph Junction Railway. Cllr Allt will present.
  265. Report on acquisition of DT property – motion coming tonight
    Council privilege advice – info received.
  266. Closed meeting:
    Solid waste mgmt – received info
    Appt to Elliott Comm Board – Direction, motion coming
  267. For the record, Gordon and Wettstein have gone full Sipowicz tonite. (Dress shirts with short sleeves)
  268. Waiting for Mayor, MacKinnon and CAO (or deputy).
  269. What’s the deal with that one? Apparently, the 30 min sked is a fuster-cluck, as I’ve been reporting for 2 months.
  270. A new agenda item’s been added: “2016.35 Guelph Transit – Extra Buses”
  271. So far, the only 2 council reports for extraction are Transit Growth and Meeting Mgmnt.

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