LIVE BLOG: City Council Meeting for July 24, 2017

This is the last city council meeting before summer vacation, so you definitely don’t want to miss it. 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 – July 24, 2017

Live blog from the meeting starting at 6:30 pm

  1. Closed meeting: Proposed Downtown Zoning By-law Amendment = council received info
  2. 1229 Victoria Road Zoning By-law Amendment, Ontario Municipal Board Appeal, and York Road/Victoria Road South = direction given to staff.
  3. No Disclosure of Pecuniary Interest and General Nature Thereof, but regrets from @DanGibsonCllr
  4. Billings asks Stormwater to be held in separate vote, Wettstein pulls Woornerf for separate vote.
  5. Stormwater service votes passes 11-1 (Billings against)
  6. Woornerf pilot project passes 8-4 (Wettstein, Hofland, MacKinnon and Allt against)
  7. All other items from the consent agenda passed unanimously.
  8. First full items up: Corporate Administration Plan update with Derrick Thomson, CAO.
  9. Thomson says his 1st year has been one of stepping back and renewing focus.
  10. Corporate Admin plan launched last September, meant to speed up organization and put customers and citizens first.
  11. Thomson says they’re making good progress, majority of CAP initiatives on schedule with budget to be success.
  12. Thomson going down the list of accomplishments in the last year: transit realignment, new bus schedules, VRRC re-opened, etc.
  13. Staff laying out new community plan, the second phase of which will start after the next election.
  14. Cllr MacKinnon says the last year has been “tremendously successful”. Thanks Thomson for his hard work.
  15. Allt says this has been a dense report and difficult to get through, asks Thomson to expand on leadership roles.
  16. Thomson: Been openings on exec team & legal team. Been filled, and the candidates received were “first class”
  17. All asks about “organizational readiness”, the budgetary, HR stuff that will need to be addressed in budget.
  18. Thomson: As municipalities involve, we will need to look at processes to see where we need to as a city.
  19. Allt asks about how staff will seek the data? Focus groups will be used, also hard data thru Stats Can and other sources.
  20. Wettstein asks Thomson about managing the transition between councils in the middle of this process.
  21. Staff: There will be 1 to 3 sessions for council to provide the data in a “synthesized format”
  22. Cllr Piper feels that the timelines aren’t realistic b/c council will site Dec 2018, and then 2019 1st priority. May not be time to focus
  23. Guthrie says its been a pleasure working with Thomson and exec team, “thrilled” by what’s accomplished.
  24. Next proposed Downtown Zoning bylaw. This was the matter at the last council meeting that was deferred about 1 hour closed session
  25. AV has apparently gone boink for this agenda item
  26. The bylaw is the result of 2 years of work consulting the public and stakeholders
  27. One of the changes is to move some items to site control rather than bylaw.
  28. Delegation on this matter: Jason Ashdown, of Skyline.
  29. Ashdown is one of the founding partners of Skyline, they have $140 million invested in #Guelph, $55 million downtown.
  30. Ashdown says the bylaw changes (removing residential component) will affect two Skyline properties downtown.
  31. For instance, the Co-operators HQ, the changes could stop them from turning it into condos when they move in 2023.
  32. Skyline intends to keep these buildings as office space, but you know, got to keep the options open.
  33. There are difficulties in leasing office space in downtown Guelph, he says. Old Fountain St office sat empty for 3 years.
  34. Residential option is a safety net, says Ashdown. Asks council to leave zoning alone.
  35. No questions for Ashdown. He doesn’t seem terribly pleased that no one had any.
  36. MacKinnon/Wettstein put motion on the floor. MacKinnon has amendment to exempt Skyline properties.
  37. MacKinnon says it doesn’t benefit the city to rezone those properties now, better to retain the current bylaw.
  38. Allt asks staff to provide broad strokes about the proposed amendment.
  39. Staff: Council has legal authority to pass amendment as they like. Staff recommendation is best advice, implements 2nd plan completely.
  40. Cllr Downer says she respects recommendation, but concerned about not letting significant piece of property to have flexibility.
  41. Guthrie says they have to be seen as willing to make these compromises and take the time to make things work.
  42. The recommendations “as amended” passes unanimously.
  43. Next up, Guelph Active Transportation Network Design Guidelines and Feasibility Study.
  44. Jennifer Juste, program manager, hopes to offer some clarity tonight.
  45. ATN study focuses on how to connect the various trails, work on individual trails is technically part of trails masterplan.
  46. Cllr Downer asks about the best way to consider winter maintainance budget.
  47. CAO Clack: Staff will do that automatically, an expansion pack will be brought forward at budget time (Even though there may not be support)
  48. Clack adds that staff was looking for endorsement of principle at CoW, but would still need to be moved in budget.
  49. Of the $270K for maintenance, $170K is already in the base budget.
  50. Members of GCAT rode the entire route to do a report card.
  51. Tendick says that developing a commuter trail system and making it impassible 4 months are year doesn’t make sense.
  52. Hopes the ATN passes today. Tendick also hopes a creation of trails or active transport committee might follow.
  53. Next up, Jake DeBruyn, an agricultural engineer and regular committee appointee.
  54. DeBruyn thinks that this report lacks vision though. Doesn’t do enough to separate cars and bikes
  55. Cllr Gordon says that a detailed design stage is coming (to assuage DeBruyn’s concerns).
  56. Allt has a point of order. He’s got something to ask staff, should he wait?
    A: Yes, he should.
  57. DeBruyn says the path along Woodlawn is a good example of something he’d like to see for cycling “on road”
  58. Van Hellemond expects a bike to be on the road, not “flying by” on a sidewalk.
  59. Van Hellemond says the city doesn’t want to go backwards considering all the work done on College and Silvercreek on bike lanes
  60. Next up is Jordan Richard, board member of @activeguelph asks for the recommendations be approved, and get to work immediately
  61. Richard says that the city has failed to meet the needs of an ATN until now as outlined in Official Plan.
  62. Next up is Patrick Sheridan. Has a picture of someone biking through a trail underwater.
  63. Sheridan says “something is better than nothing” has been city’s cycling policy. These changes should move past that.
  64. Plan should also include a program for feedback and accountability, says Sheridan.
  65. Final delegation: Michael Darmon. He’s advocating for the need of the trails to be maintained year round.
  66. Allt says this is important, the ATN is more than just bikes https://t.co/xGuKv27AuO

    Allt says this is important, the ATN is more than just bikes pic.twitter.com/xGuKv27AuO
  67. There are also mobility issues to consider with this. How can people with walkers, scooters, wheel chairs, use these trails?
  68. Salisbury notes that this is a visionary document. Clack says council might want to refer this to operations.
  69. “And refer to the operating budget for future deliberations” is a line being added. An amendment for the amendment, if you will.
  70. Downer says its redundant. It’s going to come in with an expanded budget package anyway.
  71. Bell doesn’t like placement of future trails, so he will not support the future winter maintenance of them (?)
  72. Wettstein confirms the impact on the budget will be $25-35K?
    Clack: There’ll be 2 packages: trails coming online, trails maybe online
  73. Amendment for outmatch budget referral passes 9-3 (Downer, Van Hellemond, and Wettstein voted against)
  74. Guthrie asks how the city will track # of trail users in the winter.
  75. City has developed a way to track, but unless on country skis or snowshoes, ppl won’t use trail not maintained.
  76. Hofland amendment passes 11-1 (MacKinnon votes against)
  77. Gordon concerned about including the Gordon/Water crossing alone in recommendations. Should come with detailed design stage.
  78. Hofland won’t be supporting #3 and #4, thinks they should come under the design stage.
  79. Allt says “we need to put on the table out best game,” encourages colleagues to keep in mind this is a living doc.
  80. MacKinnon has strong concerns about motions versus actions. Shouldn’t have a motion where staff is going to do it anyway.
  81. Has no problem with staff doing what they need to be done. Problem with staff bringing winter maintenance at budget despite being voted down
  82. “I don’t want to be ask for my opinion and it not to matter,” MacKinnon.
  83. Clack: If council gave us direction *not* to do winter trail maintenance (explicit), they’d do it.
  84. Clack says in the absence of direction, it would be brought forward.
  85. Bell says recommendation #4 is the highest priority item.
  86. Still, Bell doesn’t think the plan is good enough and it’s not going to accomplish the things it wants to do.
  87. Bell moves to refer clause #1 back to staff, Salisbury seconds.
  88. Staff: We don’t design unsafe facilities. If we had an unlimited bucket of money there are things we can do but reality = budget limits.
  89. Oops! I need to be careful when speaking to avoid giving impression I’m making insulting connections between sitations. Apologies to staff!
  90. Wettstein: My sense is if we send this back, are we opening ourselves to talking about a bunch of one off aspects.
    Staff: Yes.
  91. Piper says the public is hungry for this loaf, plus other priorities coming in cycling plan update and trails master plan
  92. Salisbury: From Ward 4’s perspective, this is a no loaf scenario.
  93. Salisbury says concern goes beyond 1 issue, thinks doc isn’t visionary enough too pragmatic.
  94. Allt: “I don’t want to be loafing around on this”
  95. Last week Allt said a parking garage might be their legacy, should be an active transport component.
  96. Allt believes the principles should move forward, the land for the Hanlon portion privately owned so what can they do?
  97. Referral back to staff fails 4-8 (Bell, Billings, Salisbury and Van Hellemond vote in favour).
  98. Downer says the Gordon/Water signals be studied as it wasn’t mentioned in the original outline.
  99. DCAO Stewart says there’s more to Hanlon trail that throwing cash at it.
  100. There’s more work to do than just the two pieces.
  101. Stewart reminds that these decisions will also come up at budget time too. “You are so close,” he adds.
  102. Salisbury says he doesn’t want to get bogged down in implementation, but this is a *policy* document. Hanlon piece isn’t a detail.
  103. Salisbury: “I have seen this council spend hours debating motions that mean nothing… I’d like our motions to be action oriented.”
  104. Guthrie says he thinks we’re landing somewhere, wants to keep moving forward. Respectively.
  105. Piper says that staff asked council to find gaps. They found gaps.
  106. Wettstein asks if he should put motion on the floor about unsafe bike routes from Clair to the river.
  107. Staff: Hoping that cycling master plan might have an alternative.
  108. New amendment for item #2 staff directed to bring forward priorities list of capital projects. (Essentially).
  109. Guthrie asks staff if it’s appropriate now to talk about adopt-a-trail initiatives. Maybe something for Trails MP?
  110. Staff says it can be referred to Trails Master Plan. Updates coming in 2018, report in Q1 2019.
  111. Cycling Master Plan schedule has not been fleshed out yet, Transportation MPlan will touch on it.
  112. How ridiculous would it be to take $10Mn for paint on roads and gave it to ATN?
  113. Staff: There’s a specific role for the on-road lanes. In other words: kinda.
  114. Clause #2-6 pass unanimously
    Clause #1 passes 11-1 (Bell against)
  115. Final item: Closed meeting investigation report. Downer will chair this portion as Guthrie presents.
  116. Guthrie would like to release publicly the minutes from the Nov 28, 2016. One of 3 meets about Brant Community Hub a complaint was filed on
  117. Guthrie says this is the 3rd closed meet investigation. Suggested by investigator council should be conscious on use of closed meet policy
  118. Hofland concerned that a precedence being set. Clerk O’Brien says this council has a good track record, but precedence being explored.
  119. Guthrie reads from closed minutes: 2 motions. !) staff be directed to draft non-bonding lease or letter of intent for Community Hub.
  120. 2) Previous direction to staff be rescinded from the October meet.
  121. No mayor’s announcement except to have a happy summer, even the media.
  122. Meeting adjourned! That’s a wrap on council till September.

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