LIVE BLOG: City Council Meeting for February 12, 2018

This month’s planning meeting will feature development priorities, the state of the city’s brownfields, and the redevelopment of the Uniroyal plant. You can click here for the agenda from City Hall, and you can click here for the Politico preview. For the complete blow-by-blow of tonight’s council meeting, you can follow me on Twitter, or follow the tweets below. Continue reading “LIVE BLOG: City Council Meeting for February 12, 2018”

City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the February 12 Meeting?

It might be February, but this is the first planning meeting of the year as council will be asked to consider reports about he coming year of housing construction, the next several years of brownfield remediation, and the immediate future of one brownfield in particular. Continue reading “City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the February 12 Meeting?”

Forget Baker Street! Co-operators Moving Forward with New South End HQ

A few hours before a council meeting that would discuss the potential redevelopment of the Bakers St. parking lot for a new 200,000 square foot headquarters for the Co-operators, the insurers have reached an agreement with the City of Guelph to develop a new main building in the south end in time for a 2023 move in. Continue reading “Forget Baker Street! Co-operators Moving Forward with New South End HQ”

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.

GUELPH POLITICAST #83 – Live (ish) From National Aboriginal Day

Guelph marked another National Aboriginal Day on Wednesday bringing First Nations dance, music, culture and food to Downtown Guelph in front of City Hall for all to see. A few hundred people gathered on Carden Street to see a wide swath of Indigenous traditions brought to life, a reminder that as we strive for truth and reconciliation, there’s still a culture trying to thrive. Continue reading “GUELPH POLITICAST #83 – Live (ish) From National Aboriginal Day”

10 Interesting Factoids From Guelph150

There was a bit of controversy today with the Guelph150 banners, one of the entries being labelled taboo because the memory of the crime it references is still fresh in the heads of many Guelphites. But there’s still lots of Guelph History to learn from this interesting and informative Downtown Guelph Business Association promotion, and this is only 10 of them… Continue reading “10 Interesting Factoids From Guelph150”

GUELPH POLITICAST #79 – Hans Zegerius, Petrie Photographer

Underneath that big green tarp near the corner of Wyndham and Macdonell is a world of mystery. The Petrie Building has been a subject of intrigue, speculation and regret for years, if not decades, and it’s facelift is opening up that world as the Trycathlen partners proceed with the renovation and restoration of the Petrie, and one man has been there to capture the transformation as it’s unfolded. Continue reading “GUELPH POLITICAST #79 – Hans Zegerius, Petrie Photographer”

VIDEO: Behind the Scenes of the Petrie Building Renovations

This Saturday is Doors Open Guelph, the annual behind-the-scenes tour of all the places you’d like to see but don’t normally have access to. One of the pit stops in this year’s edition is the Petrie Building, which is a chance for the public to see the long and hotly anticipated renovation of the much neglected downtown Guelph heritage building. Due to circumstances, only the second floor will be open to visitors Saturday, but back in February members of city council, staff, and the media were given a behind the scenes tour of the work in progress, and now you can take that tour too… Continue reading “VIDEO: Behind the Scenes of the Petrie Building Renovations”

Downtown is Cool with the Change in Hillside Dates

As reported in the Guelph Tribune the other day, the Hillside Festival is conceding victory to WayHome after two years of struggle against the upstart music festival just a few hours further away than our own Guelph Lake. The 34th annual Hillside Festival will be held on the weekend of July 14-16, which is a couple of weeks earlier than normal, but does it also put Hillside into conflict with another of Guelph’s summer festivals? Continue reading “Downtown is Cool with the Change in Hillside Dates”