LIVE BLOG: City Council Meeting for May 23, 2017

A short meeting to follow the long weekend. 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 23, 2017

Live blog from the meeting starting at 6:30 pm

  1. Guthrie says that thoughts and prayers of council are with the victims of #ManchesterArena
  2. Cllr @PhilAlltWard3 introduces Holly Reid, a high school student who’s been job shadowing him the last couple of weeks.
  3. Cllr MacKinnon asks to pull Elementary School Speed Zone – Update for separate vote.
  4. CAO Performance Development Plan Process, 6 Mnth Committee of/Whole Recap & Operating Variance Report Surplus and Deficit Allocation pulled
  5. There are 4 delegates on 13 Stuart Street: Notice of Intention to Designate Pursuant to Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.
  6. Cllr Piper merely asks to separate the 3 recommendations under Committee of the Whole update.
  7. Rec #1: That Guelph City Council Committee of the Whole governance structure remain in place. Fails 5-6.
  8. “I hope you realize the amount of work that’s going to take place to make this happen,” says Guthrie.
  9. Allt, Gordon, Hofland, Piper, Salisbury, and Wettstein voted against the continuation of Committee-of-the-Whole
  10. Guthrie asks how this is going to be handled now.
  11. City clerk says that his staff will have to figure out a way to transition back to a standing model.
  12. “It took us sometime to make that transition, it will take us some time to go back,” says Stephen O’Brien.
  13. Cllr Bell says supporting Recommendation #3 will force council to revisit going back to standing committee anyway.
  14. Hofland says she would support that calendar year review. Guthrie says clerk will have to come back with ramifications.
  15. Gibson’s asks what happened, 5 councillors decided to change their mind between Committee and now.
  16. Gibson proposes a reconsideration vote. Guthrie offers to let the clerk go away and come back with options.
  17. Guthrie asks O’Brien if any member of council came to him with notice of this vote. O’Brien: No.
  18. Guthrie asks if the work plans of executive teams will be hindered.
  19. CAO Thomson says the work of the city has been based on the CotW structure. Will have to look into it.
  20. O’Brien adds that notice for upcoming meetings has already been given out, will need to look at what can be/can’t be changed.
  21. Piper says that when she asked for the separation of the vote she didn’t know the outcome. Always against CotW, wasn’t at May meet.
  22. Piper says she wants to save the clerk some work, and do motion of reconsideration instead. Notes 2 cllrs absent tonight.
  23. CAO and Clerk will now take 5 minutes to confer on the situation.
  24. Procedurally, we either let it go, or suspend procedure and do notice of consideration. No meeting in June a possibility.
  25. No June Committee meet, that work would be paused, but council meets would continue.
  26. The dictionary needs to be updated with a new definition of the words “irresponsible” and “irrational”. #Guelph #council
  27. Council needs 2/3 to suspend procedural rules to reconsider.
  28. Bell offers a potential fourth motion to continue Committee/Whole till the end of the year.
  29. Guthrie says he’d like to deal with the motion in front of council.
  30. O’Brien says there’s been a considerable amount of training of staff, “a year and a half” into a transition.
  31. Guthrie: My advice let’s get this open for reconsideration and let what happens happen.
  32. Cllr Gordon asks if this vote were to happen 6 months from now, would it be the same trauma?
  33. O’Brien says they were not prepared for this vote tonight. Would have had timelines prepared about going back at end of the year.
  34. O’Brien says there’s a “significant amount of work” coming so he would not recommend suspending June meet.
  35. Gibson asks if reconsideration could be revisited. Two members not here and “I would like their votes back,” says Gibson.
  36. Council needs 9 of 11 for reconsideration motion. Two-thirds of the *whole* council.
  37. Guthrie aims to stop Gibson about what if scenarios. Wants to take each motion 1 at a time.
  38. Motion to suspend procedures passed 10-1 (Allt against.)
  39. Piper moves motion of reconsideration and revote. Doesn’t want to create policy void for next 6 months.
  40. Wettstein he’s in favour, but the message is that council is not as committed as it needs to be to keep going forward.
  41. Wettstein says there’s a lot of concern in the survey, not that it means it can’t work.
  42. Allt also notes his dissatisfaction, and that the motion has point out that council has issues.
  43. Gibson notes that he had to reshuffle his day job to accommodate CotW, but doesn’t want to pull out willy-nilly.
  44. Salisbury asks if clerk can come back with Plan B at next review. O’Brien says that’s clear.
  45. MacKinnon concerned about people changing their decision 15 minutes later without thinking about ramifications.
  46. Next Steps:
    Is council going to reconsider? (9/11 needed)
    If yes, then revote with simple majority.
  47. Recommendation #1 passes 10-1 (Piper against). “Now I’m going to breathe,” says Guthrie.
  48. And that’s that. Next up: delegations with Rotary’s Canada Day Request- Fireworks and Canada’s 150th Birthday
  49. .@MarvaWisdom presenting on behalf of Rotary Club. Now in #Guelph for 99 years.
  50. Next Rotary event is #CanadaDay fireworks. “Not unlike those in council,” jokes Wisdom.
  51. Cost of #CanadaDay festivities in park = just over $150K; about $56K after in-kind sponsorships.
  52. Rotary asking for extra money for fireworks. Just $7,000 short this year and have been struggling to find sponsors for extra fire power.
  53. Guthrie in support, but staff has asked council to figure out where money is coming from.
  54. Wisdom says that Rotary thought they would qualify for grants, but the Canada Day celebration is actually classified as a fundraiser.
  55. …even though they don’t technically raise funds from this event anymore.
  56. The $7K means that Rotary will be in deficit. Sponsors aren’t there, could be b/c there may be other #canada150 events looking for sponsors.
  57. Guthrie points out that $5K was set aside for Market Square event, hasn’t been allocated yet.
  58. Piper adds that $2K could come out of rate stabilization reserve. No precedence b/c its a once 150 year affair.
  59. MacKinnon adds amendment to limit the money to $5K from the Market Square event. No seconder though.
  60. Guthrie says that the issues at Rotary has to do with structure of Wellbeing grants. What’s going on there?
  61. Community benefit grants fund Rotary events and others, technically fundraisers, staff recommend. will be coming back later this year.
  62. Next up, the delegations on the Stuart Street Heritage matter, First up is Eric Davis on behalf of John and Pamela Rennie
  63. The Rennies own 13 Stuart St., Davis is asking the matter be deferred, and the process has come forward to council quite quickly.
  64. There’s concern that there’s been massive renovations going on inside, Davis says that no demolition permit’s been requested.
  65. Piper notes that expedited process is a result of concern that demolition was happening in the interior, can Davis say its intent?
  66. Davis says no plans to demolish, internally it was a mould problem that was being dealt with.
  67. Davis also notes that heritage designation often refers to the external, not the internal.
  68. Piper says there’s been reports that every architectural element in the interior has been gutted, even that which would not be mouldy.
  69. For clarity, Guthrie asks if the owners will not apply for demolition or touch interior for 30 days?
  70. Davis says it would take 60 days to get such a permit. Just wants time for his clients to make a decision.
  71. Guthrie asks the last time Heritage Guelph reached out to his clients. Davis: may have been correspondences, not sure when
  72. Next up, Susan Radcliffe of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario.
  73. Ratcliffe says that the owners have *not* responded to four correspondences from the city, or requests from media, neighbours.
  74. Gordon asks how this can be avoided. Ratcliffe suggests huge budget increase for Heritage Guelph.
  75. Kirk Roberts is up next. He’s the man restoring the Petrie and he lives across the street.
  76. Roberts says that 13 Stuart draws a lot of people who come by to have a gander.
  77. Roberts says the house is “absolutely” worthy of designation. There is a red stop work order on the door, but back hoes are showing up.
  78. Sulga says there were no delegations at Heritage meet, but on the same day a back hoe was dismantling the electrical.
  79. Sulga, a neighbour, says it’s pretty clear that the house is being readied for demolition. Not acting puts the house at risk.
  80. Piper/Bell move to put both staff recommendations on the floor. Piper calls it a “no-brainer.”
  81. Piper says time for comment from the property owner is “over”, staff has tried for a while to get in tough with them.
  82. Guthrie says he knows staff has reached out the owner and they have responded.
  83. The chief builder has heard from owners since stop work order issued, and after staff report written. Not spoken with Heritage.
  84. MacKinnon moves to defer the matter till the June 26 meeting. No seconder.
  85. Guthrie asks when Heritage Guelph has made aware. Many in the city assumed it was already heritage.
  86. “Why are we here today in such a rush? It seems so obvious to me that this was a heritage home?” asks Guthrie.
  87. Staff: The City has been active to preserve heritage resources, but done through “private property pride.”
  88. In other words: saving Guelph’s heritage has been a self-policing matter.
  89. DCAO says they’ve been following proper procedure. No one there in Oct, could get access in Nov and Dec.
  90. “Things happened in 1904, there’s no way we can no that automatically,” says Stewart on research.
  91. “A lot of ruckus in the neighbourhood,” says Stewart. Neighbours concerned b/c “they’re up to shenanigans.”
  92. Guthrie asks about the penalty. What happens is they designate tonight and something happens tomorrow?
  93. Penalties the same for listed and designation. $50K or up to 1 year in prison.
  94. Thank you GRCA, city staff, naming committee and #Guelph Council for officially recognizing a piece of my grandfather’s legacy. #DodgeLane
  95. Allt asks if there’s any potential penalty for utilities for violating full stop work order. (No there ain’t).
  96. Cllr Billings asks of the owner will have to restore what they might have demolished.
  97. Staff has been discussing this. Problem is difference btw Ontario Building Code and Heritage definitions.
  98. Comments. Gibson accepts testimony about intentions but doesn’t want to vilify owners, but the property is worthy of designation.
  99. Gordon asks what move the city can make to be sure “everything’s cool” if the vote is successful.
  100. There’s a 30 day appeal period, during which the property will be treated although its designated. But no resources to monitor 24/7
  101. Gordon says owners of the property have lost the trust of the community, so council has to protect it the best we can.
  102. Allt says Guelph needs to get on with the business of preserving heritage an issue that will more and more important as home buying ^^^
  103. Piper says it may be time to look at new incentives: tax incentives and penalties for neglect.
  104. She thanks the 13 Stuart property owner for bringing this matter to light.
  105. Agreed. Province needs to work with municipalities to protect cultural and natural heritage better. 
  106. Bell says the city should preemptively designate the five heritage properties that need it, and avoid future debates like this.
  107. Staff recommendations pass 10-1 (MacKinnon against – he wanted to defer).
  108. Back to Elementary School Speed Zone – Update, and a Q from Bell.
  109. Bell says there’s issues with speeders on narrow streets, Alice has become detour b/c of York contrux. How long till new speed signs up?
  110. Staff: Work plan will be initiated immediate. Signs up in Alice area around June.
  111. MacKinnon asks for amendment to follow original staff recommend for 40 km/h. No seconder.
  112. Hofland asks to refer back CAO Performance Development Plan (PDP) Process to staff.
  113. No governance committee, so council needs good understanding of this process.
  114. 2016 Operating Variance Report and Surplus and Deficit Allocation. Wettstein asks for each measure to be separated.

    2016 Operating Variance Report and Surplus and Deficit Allocation. Wettstein asks for each measure to be separated.
  115. Salisbury asks what will happen if the motion on point 1 fails, will the $3M surplus be in limbo?
  116. Staff would need a recommendation from council on what to do then.
  117. Hofland is a no vote on #1, it’s not prudent to go against staff recommendation.
  118. Guthrie says he hopes the recommendation stays the same, but notes the vote may not go his way.
  119. Gibson says Downer and Van Hellemond both voted in favour, and if vote goes another way “it would be very telling.”
  120. Gibson says council is now in sight of paying off Urbacon debt. $2.6M away from “putting it in the rearview.”
  121. Gibson notes (again) putting money in rate stabilization is an out come tax time to keep rates low and not find savings.
  122. “The Urbacon things has never been accurately well presented,” says Wettstein. (But he doesn’t want to get into it).
  123. Staff says rate stabilization reserve is in case of unforeseen issue like recession. That would be first resource.
  124. Recommendation #1 fails 5-6 (Bell, Billings, Gibson, Guthrie and MacKinnon for).
  125. The rest of the recommendations pass unanimously.
  126. Bell moves for an even split of the surplus between Infrastructure Renewal reserve and Tax Rate Stabilization reserve. Fails along same vote
  127. Going back to original motion: Infrastructure $76K, $3M to rate stabilization.
  128. Gibson will support, but won’t blame citizens for more cynicism tonight, he will carry more baggage.
  129. $76K passes 11-0.
    $3M passes 7-4 (Bell, Billings, Gibson, Guthrie against)
  130. The meeting is adjourned and this surprisingly long council meeting is over. Good night!

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