Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hanlon Drag and Mayor Blogging

The Hanlon becomes mainly a drag

The Hanlon Expressway made the news a couple of times this week, neither necessarily in a good way.

First, a number of by-invitation-only workshops began last week to discuss concerns about the Ministry of Transportation Ontario’s plans to upgrade the Hanlon. Basically, the current MTO proposal says that all traffic lights are to be removed from the Hanlon so that they can turn it into a high-speed connection to the Highway 7 expansion to Kitchener-Waterloo.

Now, this may come as something of a shock to the hundreds of people that use the crosswalks at the Hanlon everyday, all over Guelph, from north to south. Well, you haven’t been forgotten in the plan. The original version unveiled in December called for the development of a whole new interchange at Stone Rd., a partial redo at Kortright/Downey and an underpass at College St.

But aside from access for pedestrians and cyclists, residents’ concerns also include questions over how these changes will affect business and services at several intersections and general concerns about noise impact and property values. Questions of necessity have also been raised in council. Ward 3 Councillor Maggie Laidlaw, for one, has been very vocal about her opposition to expanding the Hanlon.

The MTO has said that if it’s deemed necessary from the workshops that significant changes need to be made in order to address residents’ concerns, then a new public consultation process will be struck.

Meanwhile, the Hanlon was at the centre of another protest on Monday April 29 when a group of 20 people blocked the southbound lanes near Paisley to show camaraderie with the Tyendinaga Mohawks who are involved in a land dispute near Deseronto, Ont. The group placed branches on the road and set them on fire while displaying a banner declaring “Solidarity with Tyendinaga.” Both the Guelph Police and the OPP attended the scene, but no arrests were made.

This was the second protest in Guelph that was committed in the name of the Tyendinaga. The Friday before, three Bell Canada vans on Cork St. had their tires slashed. A post written anonymously on the website stated “SOLIDARITY FOR TYENDINAGA! 2 BELL TIRES FOR EVERY PRISONER TAKEN!"

Brant Bardy of the Bay of Quinte Mohawks told the Guelph Mercury that when it comes to this kind of solidarity it’s, thanks, but no thanks. “We're a peaceful people . . . and conflict and violence do not move our claim forward. The issue is a lawful obligation owed by the Crown to the Mohawk people. It's not about protests and blockades."

Blog with the Mayor

Last Friday, the City of Guelph officially launched Mayor Karen Farbridge’s blog, which the Mayor herself believes is a “great way to boost the accessibility and transparency of the Mayor’s office.”

The Mayor’s blog can be found at, and so far it’s covered about a week’s worth of activities for Farbridge including last Friday’s trip to Queen’s Park with members of the Guelph community. The delegation met with several Ministers and attended Question Period in the Assembly. Readers are invited to leave comments in order for the Mayor to “engage citizens in a positive dialogue about the issues and opportunities in our city,” said Farbridge

But Guelph’s Mayor needs to be careful. The New York Times reported last week that blogging might be dangerous to your health after three well known bloggers suffered heart attacks, two fatal, citing crushing deadlines and competition pressure as stress factors. Many bloggers have spoken out though saying that there’s no evidence that blogging directly leads to death, so the Mayor is safe… for now.

But what about Park Place?

As water once again makes it back into the headlines (see last week’s Guelph Beat), the Guelph Waterworks is opening its doors to the public this Saturday. The City invites everyone to come out to the facility at 29 Waterworks Pl. (off York Rd.) to learn how Waterworks, well, works and get handy tips on conservation. There’ll be refreshments, door prizes and fun stuff for the kiddies.

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