City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the October 19 Meeting?

A third Monday council meeting? Not quite, it’s actually a council workshop. Some big decisions are going to have to be made about planning in the next two or three decades, a lot of people coming to Guelph are going to need places to live and to work, and this is part of the process in developing those ideas.

NOTE #1: This is a council workshop, so there will be no delegates for this meeting.

NOTE #2: The meeting will be closed to the public, though it will be live-streamed on the City of Guelph’s website here.

Shaping Guelph Growth Management Strategy: Residential Intensification – This workshop has been convened to get council’s feedback on residential intensification within the built up areas of the city. That means where we should build, how much we should build, and how high we should build it over the next couple of decades. A Place to Grow requires us to to accommodate a population of 203,000 by 2051, and we have to update the Official Plan to reach that goal post by July 1, 2022.

The community engagement portion of the study began with an online survey conducted last month, and withs a stakeholder roundtable, and a virtual town hall that were both held last month as well. Those results will be shared with members of council over the course of the meeting, and staff will also review previous City efforts to build density, the mix of build forms, and the average historical household size over the last 40 years.

After being loaded up with all that background information, council will then take part in a discussion in order to answer various questions. First, where should housing be directed in the Built-Up Areas of the City, which is pretty much most of Guelph including the downtown, and areas already identified as intensification nodes. Only the open greenspace on the periphery of Guelph’s borders are safe.

Next, council will discuss how much housing will be built in different parts of the Built-Up Area, and there are a couple of different options about how that might happen. Basically, the options are to put the majority of the intensity in one of the three targeted areas, downtown, the intensification nodes, or the rest of the built up area. Each area will require its own unique build form standards and housing types.

The most controversial bit of debate though will likely be around building heights. New minimum and maximum building heights have to be established, and the City can no longer increase height and density through bonusing. In some scenarios, a height of 10-storeys might be more common, but there might still be a cap of 18-storeys downtown, so the possibility of mega towers is still out.

After the workshop, work will continue on updating the plan through 2020 and 2021. Staff will start public engagement in November and December for the housing analysis, and in December and January for the employment lands strategy. Planning work will continue through 2021, with a draft Official Plan amendment expected to come back to council in late 2021.

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