GUELPH POLITICAST #369 – What’s the Deal with OPA 80?

This has been an exceptionally busy week for the City of Guelph’s planning department. As the staff were getting for the final approval of the new Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw this week – the first update in nearly 30 years, remember – the Government of Ontario dropped their decision on Official Plan Amendment #80, the latest version of Guelph’s Official Plan. It never rains, but it pours!

Cities, towns and villages all over Ontario were required to file updates to their Official Plan before last year’s municipal elections, and Guelph was one them. But because the Ontario government had an election last summer, it’s created a kind of backlog at the ministry, so even though Guelph passed OPA80 last summer, we only just got the provincial approval last week.

In all there were 18 changes, and none of them can be appealed because the last word goes to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The most controversial part of the decision was that the skyline of Downtown Guelph can now max out at 23 storeys, which has provoked a lot of doom and gloom scenarios in the news and on social media, but that’s an oversimplification. Today, we’re going to dig a bit deeper.

To help us, we’re joined by the City of Guelph’s General Manager of Planning and Building Services Krista Walkey and the City’s Manager of Policy Planning and Urban Design Melissa Aldunate. They’re going to talk about the impact of the changes on various other pieces of Guelph planning business and the complexity of planning downtown beyond the maximum building height. They’ll also discuss why Guelph has limited options around major transit stations, and why you don’t need to worry about Guelph growing beyond its borders in the immediate future.

So let’s get the 4-1-1 on OPA #80 on this week’s Guelph Politicast!

You can see the decision on OPA80 from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing here, and you can see the staff memo on the decision that was provided in a council information report here.

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Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.

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