LIVE BLOG: City Council Meeting for December 11, 2017

Council meets to plan again one last time before the end of the year. You can click here for the agenda from City Hall, and you can click here for the Politico preview. 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 – December 11, 2017

Live blog from the meeting starting at 6:30 pm

  1. Mayor Guthrie has called the meeting to order.
  2. Regrets from Cllr Bell, but he may yet arrive… #mysterious
  3. Update from closed session: Public Appointment to the Board of Trustees from the Elliott, and Lisa Wooley (sp?) will be added to the Board for the 3 year term is the motion. Passes 12-0.
  4. 1st up, the rezoning of 1 & 15 Stevenson Street North and 8 William Street Proposed Zoning for a condo development. Neighbour Rodney Kubis concerned about loss of privacy from such a high density development going in next door. Had hard time accessing application.
  5. Kubis says he heard from the developer today, and they had a conversation, which Kubis says was amiable.
  6. Jeff Buisman of Van Harten Surveying is here to answer any questions about the development. Says he’s talked to Kubis and assured him of his continued privacy with 6-foot high fence and maintaining the trees. Here to answer Qs from council.
  7. Next: Presentation of Draft Built Form Standards for the Gordon Street Intensification Corridor. DCAO Stewart says that staff has been working hard and good guidelines make for an easier/simpler process.
  8. David de Groot, Senior Urban Designer, begins presentation.
  9. Gordon St. designated as an arterial, OPA 48 establishes heights in the official plan, which is different. As to why now? Gordon is experience a lot of development pressure right now, and there’s more coming. City needs to make sure there’s room for open spaces and parks too.
  10. de Groot calls this a companion to the Draft Built Form Standards for Mid-rise Buildings and Townhouses, which, spoilers, is the report we’re discussing next.
  11. Technical issues concerning wastewater and stormwater need to be looked at when considering the future development of Gordon St.
  12. Public input and stakeholder interviews have already been done on this project. 60 people were at an open house in the fall. Concerns include traffic, and transitions bettered mid-rise and low density residences.
  13. Cllr Allt asks about the conversion of Gordon at Arkell Rd, 3 or 5 lanes? de Groot says it will be two lanes both ways so five.
  14. Guthrie notes that this is just a recommendation to receive. MacKinnon and Van Hellemond move, and it passes 12-0.
  15. de Groot movies on to Draft Built Form Standards for Mid-rise Buildings and Townhouses.
  16. de Groot says that as we move along, we’re going to see more and more of these types of developments, hence the need for standards.
  17. de Groot says the final will report will come back in Q1 and Q2 of next year.
  18. Cllr Piper talks about the charm of brownstones in NYC, and asks about whether or not accessory apartments in town houses. Currently barred, yes?
  19. Staff says that whether or not accessory apartments will be allow in townhouses will be part of the pending bylaw update.
  20. Cllr Gibson asks about the “townhouse mono-culture” and where staff want to go with, for lack of a better word, individuality?
  21. de Groot says there’s a fine balance, but they can take the comment back, and use it when looking at the types of developments that are coming back to the city.
  22. No further questions, and Mayor Guthrie notes that this is another receive only report. Received 12-0.
  23. Final item of the night: Guelph Innovation District (GID) – Real Estate Options. An opportunity that’s been a long time coming, says Mayor Guthrie. Peter Cartwright, General Manager, Business Development and Enterprise Services presenting.
  24. The GID lands are owned by the Province of Ontario, who has declared the land surplus and has no further interest in using them. They’ve started the process of offloading these lands.
  25. Staff is recommending that the City now explore the possibility of a direct sale of the lands from the Province to the City so that Guelph can conduct its own Request for Proposals from developers to start achieving the objectives of the GID Secondary Plan.
  26. Cartwright calls this a “bold” proposal, and it will allow staff to choose a developer that can “run the gamut” on the City’s policies and goals.
  27. If, at the end of the stage one expression of interest, it seems that there’s no way forward, Cartwright say the only thing lost will be staff time.
  28. Council been asked to approve 7 recommendations on this item:
  29. Cllr Billings asks about why Cartwright is looking for “lame duck” authority versus coming back at outline milestones. Cartwright says they’re moving at a pretty good pace with the province, and decisions *may* have to be made during that period.
  30. Cartwright also said that they may come back to council at any time to seek feedback and directions.
  31. Province undergoing EA phase 1 and 2 on the property. Provincial policy is to turn over land cleaner, and there’s apparently still some work that needs to be done on the east side in places.
  32. Cllr Billings notes that any developer that buys GID property has to follow secondary plan, anything in the agreement on top of the 2ndary plan?
  33. Cartwright” Aside form principles and priorities, no, the more restrictions you put on the site, the harder it is to find someone to develop.
  34. DCAO Stewart notes that there’s a moment to leverage here for the right partner, “We’re ready for something to happen.” The land is just more land to the Province, and they don’t care about what Guelph wants to do with it.
  35. Stewart adds that there’s *some* risk, but more opportunity. More exit ramps build it, and the city has spent millions on infrastructure in the east end to get to this point.
  36. Gibson says it sounds like there’s a lot of money at stake, is there not some costs incurred by the time Guelph gets to the “first exit” point in stage four? Cartwright says City won’t get to 4 without commitment and satisfaction in stages 1-3.
  37. Cllr Gibson notes that Guelph council’s reputation is on the line when there are deals to be struck, not that he doesn’t trust the exec team. Can’t council, future council, get more interaction?
  38. Stewart says council can ask for more engagement, they are within their to add those caveats. Staff has an interest in there not being any more surprises too. They don’t want “anymore grey hair.”
  39. Gibson says he wants more touch points embedded in recommendations 3, 4, 5, and 6. Is curious if that will create any delays.
  40. Staff concerned that they need the flexibility to negotiate with outside parties to get to a letter of intent. Say more council input around 4 and 5 makes sense, but looking to respond mostly to the opportunities as they become available.
  41. Cartwright says part of the intent of 3 and 4 is to try and negotiate things with the province, even in the midst of the council break for the municipal election.
  42. Cartwright says that if council agrees to start an RFP that’s enough of an endorsement for the business community. You don’t enter a process like this unless you’re serious about it.
  43. Cllr Downer if there may be unintended consequences for other projects in the capital budget, and Cartwright confirms that no, there this won’t affect any of those projects.
  44. Downer adds that this puts the City “a bit more in the driver’s seat” on this project and move towards getting something done.
  45. Gibson says he sees risk with this plan, leveraging the city into limiting the number of OMB appeals, but his instance is that after tonight, council will not see this again until 2019.
  46. Gibson forwards amendment to bump up approval in point #5 and 36 from DCAO to council. Piper seconds.
  47. Downer says she doesn’t feel this part will be political, this is a simple land transaction.
  48. Wettstein asks for staff input on how to de-politicize this? Cartwright goes back to Hanlon Creek Biz Park, council empowered staff for deals there, which is one example, but wondering if there’s a middle ground btw delegated authority and oversight.
  49. Guthrie says it seemed like Gibson previously asked for check-in points, not oversight, could amendment about council updates on point 5,6, and 7 be “friendlier”?
  50. Wettstein says he wants to make sure that all conditions met are through the RFP process, and that council is not interjecting as a third wheel. Guthrie says he wants to get though comments and vote on the amendment.
  51. Salisbury concerned about DCAO capacity to negotiate if the offer is less than expected. Stewart says such an offer would be rejected. If developer came back looking for money/investment from city, that’s out too until guidance.
  52. Salisbury asks Gibson, what is he hoping to achieve if the staff already has this kind of clear direction for authorization? Gibson says he wants to make sure that next council is not hit with “one of those things” that this council was hit with.
  53. DCAO Lee says this comes with a high level of transparency in terms of risk. What’s in it for the City is to guid development and take advantage of the tax base when it’s developed.
  54. Allt says that as part-time councillors they have to rely on the expertise of “our well-paid staff”, a process has been put in place to avoid micromanaging but still pause and make sure we’re still going where we’re going.
  55. Gordon says he appreciates Gibson’s comment that this is not about a lack of trust, but there may be a perception among developers that a lack of trust exists. Plus mayor and councillors were in the room with AMO, who were impressed with bold vision.
  56. Wettstein adds that council doesn’t have to put it in a motion that the DCAO can’t spend a million dollars without getting council authority.
  57. Gibson says he heard the word “we” a lot, and wanted to make the point that they were delegating the full project to staff if the amendment fails, so there is no “we”.
  58. Guthrie says again that he thinks there’s a more amicable amendment out there. Won’t vote for this amendment even though he gets the intent.
  59. Amendment fails 4-8 with Gibson, Billings, Piper, and Van Hellemond voting for.
  60. Guthrie proposes amendment for report to come back to council, an “information green sheet”, at the end of each phase that council can pull for discussion. Salisbury makes the motion to add this as point #8.
  61. Gordon asks staff how this is different from what council would do anyway? Guthrie notes that Tier 1 projects report quarterly, but this process might move quickly so the updates could come sooner.
  62. Back to the main motion. No further comments from council, except for the mayor who thanks staff and council for seeing through the long road to get here.
  63. Vote passes 10-2 with Billings and Gibson voting against.
  64. No mayor’s announcements so meeting adjourned. Next meeting is Wednesday to discuss the Alectra merger. Be back her for that at 6:30!!!

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