Improved Hanlon gets approved
Despite continued public dissension over the proposed plan to upgrade the Hanlon Expressway between Wellington Street and Maltby Road, City Council voted in favour of the province’s preferred plan at last Monday’s meeting. The marathon session went until 1 am with councillors voting twice to extend the meeting so that the issue could be dealt with till its conclusion.
The timetable for the completion of the project is still to be determined, but project manager Rob Bakalarczyk of the Ministry of Transportation confirmed to council that some of the interchange upgrades on the $60 million project may take a decade to complete. Top priority will be given to the Laird Road intersection so that greater access to the future site of the Hanlon Creek Business Park can be offered. Money for this part of the project, budgeted for $17 million, will likely come out of development charges.
The Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO) will complete and publish the Hanlon Expressway Transportation Environmental Study Report make it available on for a 30-day public review period in May. You’ll be able to view the details for yourself at http://hanlonimprovements.ca/
Guelphites taxed a little less
It looks like the tax increase for home owners in the city is going to be a little less than predicted thanks to “changes in Guelph’s property value assessments, a decrease in the Province’s education tax rate, and adjustments to the City’s multi-residential tax ratio and its operating budget,” according to a city press release.
“Despite the current economic challenges facing municipalities, Guelph’s financial position remains strong,” says the City’s Treasurer, Margaret Neubauer. “The City continues to provide high quality public services and ensure good value for people’s tax dollars.”
When the budget was passed in December, it called for a 3.74 per cent increase to cover the costs associated with protecting services and responding to changing community needs. Now the increase will stand at 3.41 per cent over 2008 rates. At the same time, the Province reduced Ontario's residential education tax rate by 4.76 per cent, which made property value assessments higher than expected. Finally, the City is changing the way it taxes multi-residential properties in order to spread the tax burden more fairly across property categories and as a result is lowering the multi-residential tax ratio from 2.74 to 2.5965 this year.
So what does the tab come to? Well, for the 2009 tax year, if you consider the average residential property value is $257,000, then you will have a tax bill of $3,433, which amounts to an increase of $113. "We have approved the lowest tax increase of the past six years, while investing in priority services and infrastructure," says Mayor Karen Farbridge. "I want to thank our City management team for its diligence and hard work throughout this year’s budget process."
This ain’t over
Since the beginning of the year, Guelph Beat has covered the renewed activism to block the development of the Hanlon Creek Business Park in the City’s south end, and now a new voice has joined the call to stop development in this area. Residences and businesses in Guelph may have received a pamphlet from the Victoria, BC-based Wilderness Committee calling for action to “Save Guelph’s last old-growth forest.” The Wilderness Committee is working with Land Is More Important Than Sprawl (LIMITS), who is continuing to hold meetings, events and nature walks in the affected area to raise awareness. Visit there new website at http://www.landismoreimportantthansprawl.com/