The new Market Parkade on Wilson Street opened with unusual fanfare Saturday morning as representatives of the City of Guelph, the Downtown Guelph Business Association, and the regualr crowds making their way to the Farmers’ Market took a few minutes to take in the ribbon-cutting of Guelph’s newest parking amenity.
“It’s a little bit quirky – ‘Guelphy’? I don’t know what it is – to be at a celebration for the opening of a parking garage, and I wonder if we Google that if there be any others in the world, but we don’t care,” said Marty Williams, the executive director of the Downtown Guelph Business Association.
“Thanks to all the merchants, the business and property owners in the area and beyond for their patience and, mostly, their positive attitude,” Williams said in his remarks. “This was a little short term pain for long term gain. This is going to make a real difference in downtown quality, and we hope that it’s going to see significant increases in customer traffic.”
Along the with the new parkade, Saturday marketed the first time that Wilson Street has been re-opened to traffic in a year-and-a-half. Between the new pedestrian bridge to Northumberland, the numerous new pieces of public art, and the various vendors and musicians in Market Square, there was so much to see and do after a few words from the mayor and others.
“No one could be happier than me that this day has arrived,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie. “Today we’re celebrating 498 new parking spaces in our downtown. […] My hope is that we are able to draw more people to our downtown core, because many people may have been hesitant to try to come down here in recent years, just because they were concerned with trying to find parking, and we want those people to come back.
“This is a chance to discover or rediscover all of the fantastic unique shops and restaurants that we have in our downtown core,” he added.
Yvette Tendick, the president and co-founder of the Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation was on hand to open a particular feature of the new parkade, the secured bike parking, which has room for 40 bikes. “Of course, we wish that the facility was built entirely for bike parking, as they do in the Netherlands. The most recent bike parking garage in Amsterdam has room for 12,500 bikes,” she said.
“It’s not a secret to anyone that bike theft is a serious problem in Guelph, particularly for those who leave their bikes for long periods outside,” Tendick explained. “With secure bike parking more people will be able to bike downtown, knowing that their bike will still be there when they come back for it at the end of the day.”
“If we can get more people to bike downtown to get the GO train or GO bus instead of driving by providing secure bike parking, then this will be a real bonus for the city because it eliminates some car trips downtown and eliminates the need for even more parking,” Tendick explained.
Along with 498 new parking spaces and the secured bike parking, there’s also two spots with EV chargers, and 500 solar panels installed on the roof generating almost 240,000 kilowatt hours per year.
The Government of Ontario’s Main Street Revitalization Initiative also funded four new art projects including “Sudden Garden,” which features four bronze deer statues at the corner of Wilson and Gordon by artists Robert Cram and Eldon Garnet. Along Wilson Street, under the railway bridge, and by the Farmer’s Market there are four murals by Pellvetica, Cheka Creative Inc., Kenneth Lavallee and Emmanuel Jarus.
Check out the slideshow of images from the opening below: