What was once an oasis from urban sprawl, a developed piece of land that nature had reclaimed from a century of industry, is once again a big empty field ready for construction. For over a decade, the area residents that enjoyed this natural space, and its tress and trails, have been dreading this moment, and the journey is far from over.
Having said that, we don’t know where we’re going with the development of the so-called Lafarge lands. Despite the urgent urgency of clearing the land, evident from the sudden approval of an application to remove trees back in July, no rezoning or construction plan has been filed with City Hall. Many of the long-term residents in the area are now concerned that all that work in the past, the 10 year journey to agree to terms and conditions for development between the neighbourhood, the City and the landowners, will be paved over like so many trees. Two-thousand of them.
Considering that the question of what to do with this land goes back over a decade, it’s entirely possible that there are people reading this for whom how the start of this story pre-dates their time in Guelph. For context, what we need is to go back to the beginning. What was negotiated? When was it complete? Where are we going now? Why the sudden urgency? Who could help us answer these questions?
That last one was easy to answer. Before she was Ward 3 Councillor June Hofland, she was citizen activist June Hofland. Hofland, along with some of her neighbours, formed a group called the Howitt Park Neighbourhood Residents Association and began the long, difficult process of working with all parties to reach an agreement to development the Lafarge lands in a way that all parties would be satisfied with. The process went all the way to the Ontario Municipal Board, and then…. Nothing happened. Until this past summer.
That part, you probably know about. On this week’s podcast, we get into the wayback machine with Councillor Hofland as she takes us on a journey that lead to peace and hope for a reasonable development on the Lafarge lands, and a journey that ended up taking Hofland herself on a side trip to city council. One of the things I think people have found Politico valuable for is stopping the deluge of current events in order to provide a historical context, and here we are again.
Anyway, the wayback machine awaits on this week’s Guelph Politicast.
Stay tuned for further developments about development on the Lafarge site, and you can search Guelph Politico’s archives to get more information about where we’ve come from on this issue.
The theme music for the Guelph Politicast is from the KPM Klassics collection by Syd Dale.
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