City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the July 21 Meeting?

To complete a trifecta of city council meetings in the last week before a midsummer break, we will hear about one of the most complex and controversial construction projects coming to Guelph in the next 10 years. Submitted for council approval at this meeting is the Urban Design Master Plan for the Baker District Redevelopment, which promises big economic, and environmental benefits.

NOTE #1: Delegates will be able to appear at this meeting via telephone or video, but you do have to register with the clerks office before 10 am on July 16. You can also submit written delegations and correspondences for agenda items.

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

CLOSED MEETING:

Baker District Project Update: Closed – Before getting into the open session, council will discuss the project in-camera under Section 239 (2)(c) and (f) because its about matters “related to a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the municipality or local board and advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose.”

Baker District: Project Update – For the most part this is a technical document, pretty high-level, and probably fairly confusing to anyone who’s not a planning professional, but it also gives you a pretty good idea bout what to expect from the revamped Baker Street area. This report covers what people can expect from the develop, the details about the parking requirement, and plans about the sustainability standards with the project.

As previously noted, the Baker Street project consists of two towers and a separate library building plus two new urban squares with open public access for pedestrians and cyclists. According to the Master Plan materials, the two 13-storey towers will house 371 new units for 600-plus people. The development will apparently bring in $8.8 million in one-time benefits, plus $61.3 million in construction employment, and $18.2 million in annual spending including $4.2 million in additional spending downtown.

The report also says that there will be a $1 million impact on the annual operating budget to service and maintain the district. A media release from the City also says that the Baker District redevelopment will deliver nearly $1 million in new property taxes, so the additional costs are nearly offset by the new tax revenue. It’s important to note that this does not include the additional operating expenses for the new library, which will be handled in a separate budget request once the detailed library plan is complete.

The report also outlines the parking requirement for the property with a proposed two-level underground parking structure with two entrances, one on Chapel Lane and one on Baker Street. There will be a total of 416 spaces, 156 public spaces and 260 private with the public spaces being found under the library to allow for direct access for library patrons.

The other piece of this is the Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan or SNAP. The City and Windmill Development applied for funds under the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund program to come up with a plan to reduce the environmental impact of the development, and were successful in the application. The GFM funding of $175,000 needs to be approved by council in order to claim in the money and complete the SNAP.

Detailed design on the library and parking garage will begin sometime around the start of the fourth quarter of this year, and the detailed design of the private development will begin in advance of that work. The Baker Street lot will close in the third quarter of this year, to be followed by a formal groundbreaking. Archeological clearance will begin sometime in the last few months of the year.

Council will be asked to ratify the Urban Design Master Plan, approve the $15.9 million for the underground parking structure from parking fees and taxation sources, and approve the Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan.

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