City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the October 5 Meeting?

The strange case of the future of Guelph Hydro Electric Systems Inc continues next Thursday with a special, albeit closed, meeting of the shareholders of Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc., AKA: city council.

Here’s what’s on the agenda:

C-GMHI-2017.3 Strategies and Options Committee –Recommendation on Potential Mergers

Section 239 (2)(f) of the Municipal Act related to advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose.

C-GMHI-2017.4 Project Governance and Budget: Negotiating Team

Section 239 (2)(f) of the Municipal Act related to advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose.

Do not look for any hard and fast details to come out of the closed session; the argument likely being that the details of whatever’s going on is far too sensitive right now, and in a purely theoretical state.

What’s clear though is that 1) the Strategies and Options Committee has a merger option (or options) that they’d like to present to council, and 2) this is far enough along that they’re looking to create an official team of negotiators. Who will take on that effort? At the last meeting on this matter, councillors were barred from sitting on the GHESI board until this process is complete, so will councillors be allowed to take part in the negotiations? Will members of the SOC?

More important than that, will there be some kind of public announcement after the closed meeting? The next special meeting of the GMHI board will not be held until December 13, so hopefully.

City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the September 25 Meeting?

This month’s council meeting covers the library, downtown expansion, and this year’s United Way campaign, as well as any lingering concerns from reports previously brought forward at this month’s Committee-of-the-Whole meeting. Continue reading “City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the September 25 Meeting?”

Review Says Solid Waste is “Competitive” on 5 Out of 6 Categories

The week began with concern that the City of Guelph was about to lower the boom on its employees at Solid Waste, but the interim report of the service review on that department says that, for the most part, Solid Waste is delivering its services “in-line and competitive” with other municipalities. At least, that’s how they’re doing on five out of six categories the review explored anyway. Continue reading “Review Says Solid Waste is “Competitive” on 5 Out of 6 Categories”

City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the September 13 Meeting?

A busy month at council rolls on with a short, but consequential, meeting concerning the organization of the Guelph Hydro board of directors. Continue reading “City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the September 13 Meeting?”

City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the September 11 Meeting?

This month’s planning will have a single, straightforward new planning application to dispatch, but how will the neighbourhood residents feel about it? We’ll have all night to consider it… Continue reading “City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the September 11 Meeting?”

Committee of the Whole Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the September 5 Meeting?

It’s time to get back to school work, with the first Committee-of-the-Whole session since July, and money matters seem to matter most in this first gathering of city council for fall 2017. Continue reading “Committee of the Whole Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the September 5 Meeting?”

City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the July 24 Meeting?

A week from today brings the final council meeting before the August break, and while it isn’t the biggest agenda of the year so far, it will have items concerning closed meetings, light pollution, and item that couldn’t come forward last week at the planning meeting. Continue reading “City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the July 24 Meeting?”

City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the July 17 Meeting?

City council is hourly trying to get things wrapped up before the August break, and this coming Monday they’ll have to act upon some urgent new business that will affect the fate of the downtown core into the immediate future. That might have been over the top, but if you read on you’ll see it’s a pretty big deal.

CON-2017.34 Parking Master Plan Implementation: Award of the Wilson Street Parkade Design-Build Contract #17-050 – You may recall that work on the Wilson St. parkade began last fall with some road construction on Wilson St. itself, all in an effort to set the proverbial table for the construction of the full parkade to begin this year. Things did not go according to plan. After the first request for proposals (RFP) was cancelled, a second request when out in April 2017 and it received one response form the Newton Group Ltd. But more than just getting someone to build the parkade, there’s also been some changes to the overall parking plan.

The original plan called for 302 new parking spaces to be added through the construction of the parkade, but it seems that there were constraints in the original RFP that prevented it from becoming a reality. So the new proposal will see the addition of another two storeys to the parkade, which will create nearly 500 parking spots in all in the new structure. There will also be a roof installed over the top deck, which will save in the long-term on winter control costs, and it could be used in the future for potential solar revenue.

This all means that there will be an additional $8.5 million cost for the Wilson lot, but $3.1 million will be saved overall from the 10-year capital budget with the Neeve St. parkade being put on ice. The addition of the two stories on the Wilson parkade will allow for 50 more spaces to be created versus the original plan for the separate Wilson and Neeve St. parkades.

The overall cost for the Wilson St. parkade project is now budgeted at $22.5 million, including $21.1 million for the parkade, $1 million for Wilson St., and $375,000 for the pedestrian bridge.

The schedule is now as follows: the design and approval phase will begin immediately and is expected to wrap in the first quarter of 2018, construction will then begin and run through to the second quarter of 2019, and the official opening of the new parkade, pedestrian bridge and road will be sometime in either the second or third quarter of 2019.

CON-2017.33 Downtown Guelph Secondary Plan – Implementation – Priority Programs of Work – There are five sites in the downtown looking to potential redevelopment: the Baker St. parking lot, the Fountain St. parking lot, the main branch of the public library, the parking lot between Macdonell and Cork St., and a stretch of Wellington across from Heritage Park at the corner of Wyndham St. that’s Guelph Fire/EMS headquarters. Which one of these might be redeveloped first?

The City has been pursuing a request for information (RFI) over the last several months, seeking input from a number of stakeholders from Guelph and the surrounding GTA about prioritizing City-owned property in downtown Guelph. The five sites mentioned above were ranked on a number of categories including environmental approvals and remediation, parking, height limitations, financial commitments from the City, approval processes, public space requirements, zoning, and whether the lot is of an irregular size. On the basis of that ranking, 50 Wyndham St. S. finished first with a score seven out of eight criteria. Every other site scored six except 100 Norfolk, which checked off five of the eight criteria. But that doesn’t mean that Wyndham is the most likely for immediate redevelopment.

This is where the big news comes in. “Aside from the RFI, staff have also received unsolicited developer/investor interest regarding the potential redevelopment of the Baker District, which in staff’s opinion are serious and suggest the need to advance the Baker District to market as soon as possible,” said the report. Who is this “unsolicited developer/investor”? As the report states, “The timing been delayed and influenced by notice provided by the Co-operators General Insurance Company (“Co-operators”) of its intention to assess head office relocation options.”

Yes, the Co-operators, who are currently based in their headquarters on Macdonell across from Guelph Central Station. Evidently, they have expressed interest in the possibly redeveloping either the Baker St. or Fountain St. lots for a new 180-200,000 square foot office building. Baker is the more likely option because 141 Fountain St. remains a brownfield in need of remediation. According to a 2015 press release, the City was accessing federal funds to test the land, which, according to previous studies, has coal tar residuals within and around the site of the former coal gasification plant that sat there.

City staff is asking council to make the Baker St. redevelopment a priority program, and to implement a request for proposal and come back with a status report in the first quarter of 2018.

***Editor’s Note: There will be no live blog on Monday’s meeting due to a scheduling conflict. Guelph Politico apologizes for the inconvenience.