LIVE BLOG: Committee of the Whole for October 2, 2017

Happy October! Let’s discuss Governance, Public Services, and Infrastructure, Development & Enterprise. You can click here for the amended agenda from City Hall, and you can click here to read Politico’s preview of today’s meeting. For the complete blow-by-blow of today’s committee meeting, you can follow me on Twitter, or follow along below via Storify.


Committee-of-the-Whole Meeting – October 2, 2017

Live blog from the meeting starting at 2 pm

  1. Mayor Guthrie calls the meeting to order.
  2. No Disclosure of Pecuniary Interest and General Nature Thereof. Now on to the presentations. There are four.
  3. 1st: Recognition of the International Economic Development Council Award Peter Cartwright, General Manager, Business Development and Enterprise and staff.
  4. It stems from a newsletter that the office started to share info, business stories, foster participation, and take pride in Guelph’s business accomplishments.
  5. Committee also recognizes Michael Witmer, Development Planner, for obtaining his Master of Public Administration degree.
  6. Now an update on the Children’s Groundwater Festival. which takes place May 25-31. The event has been working to educate kids on water issues for over 20 years. Over 90 K elementary students have participated.
  7. Applause for the Children’s Groundwater Festival from council and gallery as they thank council for the support.
  8. Final presentation of the day: Gord Troughton and Erin Monoz of @Metrolinx. They’re talking about things going on in #Guelph, and the along the Kitchener corridor.
  9. Metrolinx wants to make some investments in our area because a) this is the fast growing area in the country, and b) congestion costs us between $6-$10 billion per year.
  10. Here's a slide from the presentation showing how Metrolinx is looking at growth in our area.

    Here’s a slide from the presentation showing how Metrolinx is looking at growth in our area.
  11. Cllr Bell asks if the second track will run all the way from Georgetown to Kitchener?
    Troughton: That’s the intent, details are still in the works.
  12. Cllr Bell asks if the second track will run all the way from Georgetown to Kitchener?
    Troughton: That’s the intent, details are still in the works.
  13. Cllr Downer asks about the “100 steps”, and progress in getting that bridge repaired. Troughton and Monoz say they’ll look into it and get back to council.
  14. Cllr Gibson asks if there are other partners besides Guelph with parking issues. Moroz: Ontario only modal transit system that relies on parking needs. Not a long term solution since they’re trying to quadruple ridership.
  15. Metrolinx is also looking at strategies like shuttles services to get people from parking to station, for example.
  16. Metrolinx will be looking to participate in community meetings in Guelph, as well as holding their own feedback.
  17. Metrolinx will be looking to participate in community meetings in Guelph, as well as holding their own feedback.
  18. Cllr Allt says that he’s not hearing what he wants to hear. Doesn’t want to belabour his ward when things are more than 10 years out.
  19. Moroz: There’s a commitment to build the bypasses in 7 years, the Environmental Assessment will begin in a couple of months. In other words, this is happening fairly quickly.
  20. No more Qs for the Metrolinx team, so now on to the rest of the meeting…
  21. Service Delivery Methods in the Context of Business Service Reviews and 2018 Council and Committee Meeting Calendar pass unanimously by consent.
  22. First up, presentation of Pedestrian Crossover Implementation.
  23. 5 locations from a list of 15 were approved for the new pedestrian signal beacon. Metrics for car and pedestrian traffic were satisfied for these locations.
  24. Deputy Chief Paul Martin says this is very important to get the info about the new changes out there. The responsibility of drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists to maintain road safety.
  25. Cll Salisbury asks if the city can make addition to the crosswalk signals, or do we have to follow the letter of the regs. Yellow means slowdown, but people step on the gas when they see yellow.
  26. Staff: No, have to keep the standards of the promise, and making the lights red instead might cause confusion.
  27. Guthrie says $10 K for communications seems excessive. He’s not proposing nothing be done, wants to know where comms budget is going.
  28. Staff: Video costs $5 K, which is saved because City is borrowing other videos. But this is for spots on radio and TV. If they don’t spend it, great!
  29. Cllr Bell asks if pedestrians have to clear the crosswalk at the fully signalized intersection? They can, if they do so safely.
  30. Guthrie asks if the lights are too bright in those residential neighbourhoods?
  31. Cllr Billings says that the City of Kitchener signals weren’t very bright during the day, can Guelph do something about that?
    Anderson: Yes, there are a # of manufacturers that the City can look at/ will be looked at.
  32. Cllr Wettstein asks why there isn’t a commensurate message for pedestrians to speed up as well as drivers to slowdown.
  33. Anderson says they’ve haven’t considered that, but will make a note of it.
  34. Personal note: Wettstein clearly doesn’t walk anywhere. Because drivers in many intersections make it pretty damn clear that if you don’t walk faster, they’ll run you down.
  35. Vote to accept recommendations on Pedestrian Crossover Implementation passes 13-0.
  36. Next up, Speedvale Ave Bridge Underpass. Staff is recommending that it doesn’t go forward, hence 10 delegations and 16 correspondences on this matter.
  37. DACO Clack is highlighting the three main problems with the plan. Mostly stems from this being a “One zone flood plain” which makes it very hard to build there
  38. But the skate park is also in a “One Zone Flood Plain”, but it was built before the changes to Heritage act, and is differently classified than a primary trail, which would have to be fully accessible.
  39. Clack notes that if the project could be changed per GRCA and River Systems Advisory Comms, they’d still be stuck with the other 2 issues: environment and accessibility.
  40. Allt says he’s somewhat disappoint, thought it would an easy sail-through, wonders if its appropriate to ask questions of legal staff if council chooses to refute recommendation.
  41. Downer says at some point, council could go in camera after the delegations. Could also have closed meeting before this matter comes to full council
  42. A primary trail, because there’s an anticipated high-level of use, is built to a higher standard, staff tells Bell in response to Q on the difference. Nature trails for bird watching, not primary, and not rigorously built.
  43. Van Hellmond asks about work on the retaining wall that needs to be done.
    Staff: There’s money in the 2018 Capital budget that will begin planning and address the needed repairs.
  44. Gordon says that a lot of the calls he’s been receiving has an element of confusion. Excitement is about safe access to the amenities to rec facilities in Riverside. They don’t want to recreate on the trail.
  45. Clack can appreciate that perspective. Council wanted connection to Trans Canada Trail, and make underpass part of the Active Transpo Network. Staff is responding to the direction given.
  46. Guthrie asks if staff did any work on alternatives? Doesn’t want to send them away with new directives if they’ve already been considered.
  47. Clack: It was important to bring this info back now on what they were mandated to do, and didn’t want to assume anything. Recommendation #2 directs staff to start considering alternatives.
  48. Downer asks if the report was run by accessibility advisory committee (it has). Would council need an official plan amendment to proceed (hard to answer without new council direction).
  49. Guthrie asks if the committee meetings are audio recorded in order to follow up on a point in Mungall’s presentation. Unlike council and CotW, those meetings are note recorded, just minutes. “We should change that,” Guthrie says.
  50. Next up, Ken Chupa who’s VP of Guelph Wellington Seniors Association. Is a cyclist and is interested in promoting the idea of seniors staying active.
  51. Mike Darmon is up next. He’s lived on Riverview Dr for 30 years, and observes a lot of near misses with people crossing Speedvale. Saw the pedestrian crossing used about 10 times in 20 minutes while gathering signatures.
  52. Susanne Gates is next. She’s a retiree that’s speaking to safety concerns mention in the staff report. It’s not unusual for pedestrians to get injured by cars. Even when they have the right of way.
  53. “It seems to be a greater safety concern for people to cross at Speedvale than use a trail that occasionally floods,” says Gates.
  54. And now we’re joined by Yvette Tendick of @activeguelph. She’s was at the RSAC meeting where the consultant gave the plan the thumbs up. It was the June meeting, but the consultant report is unavailable with the agenda. 
  55. Collier making the point that lights should be added at Marlborough Rd, and there should be green boxes added to the intersection like at Waterloo/Gordon. In other words, enhance safety at intersection.
  56. Stan Kozak, current member of RSAC is up to the podium. Says that there are some things with that committee that should be looked at, but here to talk about @2RiversFestival today.
  57. Kozak has a petition with over 300 signatures interested in saving this project. Urging councillors to proceed with the project while working to get improvements to Speedvale bridge underway too.
  58. Next and final delegation is Chuck Castillo. Notes that Woolwich and Speedvale was the #2 worst road for that year. And hey, Guelph Politico shout out!
  59. “Speedvale Ave is dangerous” says Castillo, the city has to provide someplace safe for families to cross he says.
  60. Back to committee, Downer says it seems like there’s a number of legal questions that might need to be addressed. Clack says it might be better to come back on the 23rd and answer all questions at once.
  61. Allt says “there’s no such thing as a simple legal question” so he’s fine with waiting for the closed meeting.
  62. Salisbury says that the City paid a lot of money for the consultant report, especially since its making a recommendation that staff is saying it cannot recommend. Asks if the consultant can be at council meeting, as well as member of RSAC.
  63. Salisbury proposes a motion to have staff continue with detailed design while the debate continues. Clack suggests that committee send it back to staff to get more answers and get the ppl requested. Bring it to next CotW.
  64. Staff doesn’t need directive on the money for the next month, it’s just going to sit there anyway. $50K was approved in the 2017 Capital Budget for detailed design.
  65. Salisbury puts forward motion of referral to the next meeting. Guthrie says he’s where Salisbury is, but doesn’t want to cut off comments and concerns.
  66. Guthrie says he’s like to see a matrix of the policy issues/problems, and the risks and liability.
  67. Guthrie adds that he doesn’t want to set up a situation where staff is pitted against consultants. Otherwise, he’s fine with the referral.
  68. Cllr Piper asks if council should be considering a motion of reconsideration in order to prepare for the outcome of the Nov. vote.
  69. Clack says they’re not taking a new direction this evening, but trying to fill in gaps in information. When that info comes back, at that point, council will have to make a decision.
  70. Gordon says staff and council needs to hear how to move things forward in order to answer the concerns of the community, and not force staff to redo all the work that they’ve already done.
  71. Clack proposes to bring everything back on one night, and not split things up between Oct 23 and then November CotW.
  72. Bell says that council has to be clear about this. Number of trails already in flood plain areas and grandfathered, number of new projects coming in the future plus Active Transpo Network. Might be setting precedence for non-compliance.
  73. Bell: “The wrong decision on this item will have long-term detrimental effects” on the City and how people interact with the environment. He thinks eventually, [council] will have to build this underpass.
  74. Salisbury puts forward notion to refer back to staff, Gordon seconds.
    Referral passes 11-1 with Van Hellemond voting against. (Gibson not here for the vote.)
  75. Mayor Guthrie proposes a 25 minute break. Committee will resume at 6:15 pm.
  76. Guthrie calls the meeting back to order, and we begin again with the Water and Wastewater Rate Review.
  77. Two changes are being proposed tonight. One is Sewer Abatement and the other is Water Leak Billing Forgiveness. The latter is self-explanitory, the former is for water not going back to sewer like in-ground irrigation and pools.
  78. The financial impact will be $720 K for sewer abatement, and perhaps $60 K for water leak but that’s unknown. If passed, both programs will go into implementation in July 2018.
  79. Cllr Billings asks about how this will be measured and implemented.
    Staff would look at end use. Compare how much water goes in versus how much water goes out.
  80. Billings asks how many of the big water users would qualify for the sewer abatement. Most likely, it would be 10-15 users.

    Billings asks if this is Sleemans? The U of G? Staff says they’re really not in a position to disclose.

  81. Billings trying to wrap her head around this matter. Guelph is supposed to be conserving water, are we going to attract big water users now becasue of the reduced rates? Are big water users going to expand?
  82. Moving on to water leak forgiveness, the Guelph plan is similar to Hamilton who has an exception after 3 vacant days. Staff: council can decide to proceed with something similar.
  83. Bell asks the question we’re all thinking: What’s the definition of a leak?
  84. Staff: If a user gets a high bill, they call in, provide the outcomes of the work the plumber did and perhaps there’s an inspection.
  85. Cllr Piper interjects. Bell’s concerns will be addressed when the terms and conditions are developed, yes? But Bell seems to not like this whole idea. Wants 25% cap versus 50%
  86. Cllr MacKinnon notes the sewer abatement is a good idea in concept, but what about those in condos with private garbage? Or the people that don’t use certain rec centres? Why should they pay for services they don’t use.
  87. Staff: This is a business case. Other municipalities have implemented these changes, and Guelph needs to keep pace. It’s something businesses have been asking for.
  88. Guthrie is thankful that Guelph is getting that industrial advantage. This has been something in the pipe (pun intended) since 2012. As for leak forgiveness, started with a condo that had a $25K bill because of leak.
  89. Allt concerned that Guelph is getting into a price war, slashing the cost of services to be competitive against other municipalities.
  90. Staff: We’re aware that we’re on a finite water supply, and that’s going to provide issues. Haven’t seen any kind of a sense that these changes create a drive for more consumption. Will make sure there’s safeguards.
  91. Recommendations pass 11-0 (Gibson and Van Hellemond have taken their leave).
  92. Next up: Corporate Project Management Office Progress Update with Tomoko King, Manager of the CPMO
  93. @dcwllms He was posing it as a hypothetical argument others will make, this is not MacKinnon’s own stance, I should say.
  94. Last week, St George’s Square reconstruction was added to the tier 1 list of projects, meaning it’s an immediate priority.
  95. Guthrie praises the CPMO for the work they’ve done in the last few years. It’s very transparent, and show’s citizens are getting good value.
  96. Last item of the night: Clerk Stephen O’Brien on Election Policies.
  97. Okay, so changes: Policy is going to make it clear now that there can be no campaigning inside city hall, and that candidates cannot use city technology, logo, flag, or anything while they’re campaigning.
  98. O’Brien warns that staff should be cognizant of any appearance of involvement in an election campaign.
  99. Also new, O’Brien is introducing a policy on how to fill a vacancy for a councillor, or the office of mayor.
  100. O’Brien clarifies to Bell that he can use his city smart phone during the election for city business. For election business, he will have to use a different phone.
  101. Allt follows up. Inevitably, someone’s going to call a councillor on a city phone, and that person will be accused of breaking the rules. How will that be dealt with other than judiciously.
  102. O’Brien says that councillors should be prepared to handle this eventuality. Including, per Allt’s suggestion, leaving an outgoing VM message explaining where ppl can direct election questions/concerns.
  103. On another matter, there’s an election sign bylaw coming forward in the near future.
  104. Downer asks if its no longer permitted that people are allowed to use a campaign picture of themselves standing outside city hall. O’Brien’s best advise is to avoid city hall period.
  105. How about #GuelphProud? Can candidates use it? Does it belong to the mayor or the City because Guthrie used it at the State of the City, a City of Guelph event. O’Brien says that’s something that may not be off limits. Focus on logo & branding
  106. Downer asks about email lists. The ones that councillors have used in city business, they are not able to be used for elxn. O’Brien agrees
  107. O’Brien says common sense will reign.
    Wettstein: Are you kidding!?
  108. Committee is adjourned for another month. Thanks for hanging in there. Good night.

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