t’s back to business as usual (or unusual as the case may be) at city council. The first Committee-of-the-Whole meeting of the year will deal with the city’s stock of religious lands, sign bylaws, and promotional expenses.
CLOSED MEETING: IDE-2018-08 Dolime Quarry – Mediation Process Update
PRESENTATION: Recognition of staff involved in the Conestoga College Internationally Trained Professional Internship Program
IDE-2018.02 Faith-Based Institutions: Response to Council Resolutions – Way back in September 2015, a rezoning proposal came before council for 171 Kortright Rd W. The applicant wanted to change the zoning for the St. Matthias church site from I-1 Educational, Spiritual, and Other Services Zone to a specialized R.4A General Apartment Zone. The concern was raised that perhaps Guelph was going to lose its stock of land that’s zoned for religious institutions, and council shared that concern and directed staff to look into it. Digging into the numbers, staff surveyed 65 houses of worship, and discovered that the majority of them have been located in Guelph for 50 years, been at their current locations for 20 or more, and have no plans to move in the immediate future. More then that, Statistics Canada shows that in 2011, 30 per cent of Guelphites had no religious affiliation, which was up seven per cent from a decade earlier. In other words, staff is recommending no further study.
IDE-2018-04 Sign By-law Project Charter – Before getting into the big job of re-organizing the present, 20-year-old sign bylaw, staff needs to lay down the charter, or the terms under which the bylaw is going to be reviewed. First of all, election signs are being handled in a separate process, mostly because there’s kind of an egg timer with the pending municipal election. For every other type of sign, staff will look at safety and placement to protect motorists and pedestrians, sensitive land uses like where commercial land meets residential, community standards, user-friendliness, technology, value for money, compatibility with the Official Plan, and compatibility with any potential lighting bylaw. The City will partner with the Sign Association of Canada as a consultant, but there will also be community engagement, and research of best practices by other Ontario municipalities. The review is expected back in the first quarter of 2019.
IDE-2018.05 Sign By-law Variance, 120-130 Silvercreek Parkway N – Silvercreek Plaza, which is across the street from Willow West Mall, is asking for a variance to install a new 120 metre freestanding sign. The sign will be installed on the southwest end of the property where there’s presently a Money Mart sign, which will be removed if the variance is approved. One of two signs advertising the Mr. Lube on the corner of Silvercreek and Willow will also be removed.
IDE-2018.06 Sign By-law Variance, 111-193 Silvercreek Parkway N – The new KFC on Silvercreek needs a new 2.5 metre illuminated menu sign for its new drive-thru. Menu signs are usually limited to two metres, you see.
IDE-2018.07 55 Delhi Street Notice of Intention to Designate Pursuant to Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act – This seems like something that should have been done years ago, but Heritage Guelph wants to protect the old Nurses’ Residence for the General Hospital under the Heritage Act. Built in 1910, the “Forsyth-Hepburn Home” was designed by architect Stewart McPhee and is a prime example of the early 20th century Edwardian Classicism style. A number of the house’s features will be protected by this order including the original wooden railing in the centre staircase, the front porch and balcony with their paired Tuscan columns, the exterior wood trim, the original windows and doors, and the two-storey oriole windows in both sides of the gable walls.
IDE-2017.130 Commercial Policy Review: Stage 1 Commercial Analysis and Background Report – (From the December council meeting report.) How is the shopping in Guelph these days? That maybe a crude way of looking at the situation, but that’s more or less the point of this report. They say bricks-and-mortar retail is going out of fashion, but the number of square metres of retail space in Guelph has actually increased by over 200,000 square metres over the last 10 years, with another 55,7000 square metres part of active development. Now, on the concerning side, is that fact that the vacancy rate for commercial space is 7.5 per cent, which is on the high side for a balanced retail space vacancy rate. Looking to the future, Guelph may have enough commercial land to meet demand by 2031, but we could fall a bit short by 2041. This is important because according to a telephone survey of Guelph residents they spend 80 per cent of their retail dollars in town, while Guelph also draws a strong percentage of shoppers from outside of town. Next, Stage 2 will commence with community engagement, development of framework alternatives, and the release of a preferred commercial policy framework.
Promotional Expense Account Policy/Members of Council Expenses – Hopefully, there will be a bit more detail added about this item at the meeting, because the material is pretty thin. It’s not even a formal report. A one page sheet identifies “Promotional Expense Account Policy/Members of Council Expenses”, and two numbers: $664.96 for Councillor Phil Allt and $325 for Councillor Mike Salisbury. The detail is followed by an email from Betsy Puthon, the executive assistant to the mayor, saying that, “The Council Office now has a dedicated Promotional Budget, which has been allocated $7000.00,” for supporting costs for councillors sitting on boards, attendance for non-training meetings, the booking of meeting space for town halls, and other event expenses. “Please let me know in advance if you plan to incur costs such as booking space for a Town Hall or attend non-training meetings or events that have associated costs,” Puthon added. How curious…