LIVE BLOG: City Council Meeting for September 25, 2017

You can click here for the 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 – September 25, 2017

Live blog from the meeting starting at 6:30 pm

  1. The library crowd is here tonight, so you can say that things are getting pretty rowdy.
  2. Councillors are now entering the chamber, including the long lost Bob Bell.
  3. Mayor Guthrie apologies for the lateness. Council meet will start in 5 minutes, he says.
  4. First: closed meeting items. Successor to Wellbeing Grants Panel Member = council gave staff direction for a successor
  5. Also: Solid Waste Business Service Review Interim
    Report – Material Recovery Facility – Additional
    Information coming out of Sep 18 meet
  6. Council receive info on that one. Reports on those matters will be delayed till March 2018.
  7. Disclosure of Pecuniary Interest and General Nature Thereof = Cllr MacKinnon. He’s a business owner within DBA boundary.
  8. All consent items from this month’s committee meeting passes 13-0.
  9. First up: New Main Library Business Plan Development. CEO Steve Kroft and Brice Peever of KPMG presenting.
  10. Kraft says he’s here to disappoint council, but build them up again. Functional plan complete, and updated.
  11. Building condition assessment plan also complete, says Kraft.
  12. KPMG has been looking at growth of the library over the 15-20 year time span. Why that long? Crystal ball gets cloudier longer Peever says.
  13. Costing will be for recommended option, but it will not be detailed. Exact prices will come from contractor & architect.
  14. Cllr Salisbury asks if there’s been any consideration of getting “peripheral” organizations – Out on the Shelf, Ed Video – involved?
  15. Answer: Yes, the possible involvement of community partners has been considered.
  16. These considerations will be built into the model, says Peever.
  17. There will be an open house in the near future for people to offer their feedback on a new main library branch.
  18. Cllr Gordon asks about square footage. Peevers said they’ll be taking a lot of things into account: demand, amenities, etc.
  19. Programming too. All these options go into “the sausage maker” and a range in size is developed.
  20. Cllr Allt asks if KPMG is looking at needs 15 years hence that are static or changing ?
  21. KMPG always assumes things are fluid, says Peever
  22. Cllr Hofland asks for difference between functional plan, business plan, and business case.
  23. Functional Plan: What the project’s going to look like
    Biz Plan: Getting the support of stakeholders.
  24. Functional Plan: What the project’s going to look like
    Biz Plan: Getting the support of stakeholders.
  25. Hofland asks if there’ll be public input on the functional plan.
    Peever: There’s been public input for 30 years.
  26. Hofland asks if there’ll be public input on the functional plan.
    Peever: There’s been public input for 30 years.
  27. Cllr Gibson asks about how communities have funded new main library. Peever says he’s doing that research now.
  28. Nothing further from council. Guthrie adds that the banker and investors are the taxpayers of Guelph. Just a reminder.
  29. DCAO Stewart says that the business case will be brought back to council in January.
  30. It will work out with the staff plan concerning Baker Street redevelopment, the RFI will need to know possible sq footage
  31. Salibury notes the mayor might lose his cool if the new library’s a “Taj Mahal”
  32. Stewart says council does have the option of putting everything on pause till every report is complete, but the city will lose more time.
  33. “City’s build libraries all the tim,” Stewart notes.
  34. Gordon says he doesn’t call them “taxpayers”, he calls them “readers”.
  35. Guthrie commends everyone embracing a “get it right, not get it rushed” approach.
  36. There’s no motion go receive the report, so Mayor Guthrie ends will a simple thank you.
  37. Next up Cllr @CathyDowner and Shawn Finlay about this year’s United Way campaign.
  38. This year’s campaign was kicked off 2 weeks ago. A “fun” way for mayor, council, and staff to give back to the community.
  39. About 90 K people accessed a United Way service in the last year, says Finlay.
  40. .@CathyDowner says she’s looking for Euchre partners. Any takers?
  41. No questions for Downer and Finlay after a brief, impromptu sock fashion show.
  42. Last item tonight: Downtown Guelph Business Association Boundary Expansion – Report on Objections and Next Steps. @WilliamsMarty presenting
  43. Williams notes that the boundaries of Downtown haven’t changed in 40+ years.
  44. Williams runs down the accomplishments of @DowntownGuelph, and believes that the expansion will allow them to do more.
  45. Guelph’s is the 6th oldest BIA in Ontario.
  46. DGBA intern points out that that there are some areas downtown where one half of the street is in the BIA and the other half isn’t.
  47. Allt asks how much the BIA will expand in terms of people and businesses.
  48. Williams says landlords can’t give exact number of ppl (yet), but by asset value it will be a 20% increase.
  49. Only 23, or 10 per cent, of the stakeholders objected to the expansion. If 1/3 objected, it would have put a kibosh on the whole thing.
  50. Williams says expanding the BIA means increase reach and available resources. Fixed costs (admin) are staying the same.
  51. Presently, it’s about $3,900 per year to be in the BIA given current assessments.
  52. Billings asks how many property owners in the proposed area were contacted.
    Williams: All of them.
  53. Billings tries a different way: How many did DGBA talk with face-to-face?
    Williams: All of them.
  54. Cllr Van Hellemond asks for clarity about who’s paying, using the example of Market Fresh plaza.
  55. Williams: In case of that plaza, one person owns it, leases to 5 businesses, so that .39% value is split among the leasers.
  56. The assessment of the business property is done by MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corp). Like your residential properties.
  57. Williams notes it’s easier to get to the business owners then the landlord sometimes, since some landlords live out of town.
  58. Gibson notes concern among local businesses about *federal* tax changes. Are we hearing that they’re still comfortable with this process?
  59. Williams says the 2 issues are not similar. DGBA isn’t piling on, this is a response to demand to be part of the BIA.
  60. Williams says this is a modest cost for great benefit, org that’s been around for 45 years.
  61. Billings asks for clarity: in proposed area there were 16 objections and 7 in current area. Clerk confirmed.
  62. Gibson notes that there seems to be an extended period in Canada. New and existing biz making investments, so why touch tax system now?
  63. Gibson asks if council can delay this decision 4-6 weeks till we see what happens with Ottawa?
  64. Clerk O’Brien: Can’t say what the impact will be, Q for Williams. Holding vote in Oct not significant for council in terms of impact.
  65. Gibson clarifies, would this have impact on this year’s budget cycle?
  66. Treasurer Baker says local board presentations for #GuelphBudget is Nov. 15. DGBA would have to speak to own impact.
  67. Williams says the issue is convoluted. Going to be tough already
  68. Gibson stays form that he doesn’t like injecting a “new tax” when there’s uncertainty and Guelph’s economic situation is looking to rosy.
  69. Downer says that council should not bring in concerns with feds. They’ve already started this process and should string ppl along
  70. Guthrie adds to Gibson’s comments. Sure, it’s the cost of a cup of coffee, but it all starts to add up.
  71. Guthrie says he’s heard both the positive and the negative. Heard from someone that bought 1st building DT, & already struggling with Taxes
  72. Changes, this person says, adds to his tax burden by $2,000. Guthrie says that core should try & create atmo to make it easy for biz 2 come
  73. Guthrie uncomfortable adding another tax at this point.
  74. Motion passes 7-5 (Bell, Billings, Gibson, Guthrie, and Van Hellemond against; MacKinnon took himself out)
  75. Bylaws pass, and meeting adjourned. Have a good night.

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