Harper brings cash to Linamar
Last Monday, Linamar had its grand opening for the Frank Hasenfratz Centre of Excellence in Manufacturing, a new Teaching and Technology Centre at 700 Woodlawn Rd., and the guest of honour was the Prime Minister himself, Stephen Harper. Harper’s gift to the company: $54.8 million in a repayable interest-free contribution to fund the development of the company’s green and fuel efficient powertrain projects. That’s a pretty big slice of the Automotive Initiative Fund, a provision from last year’s budget that provides $250 million over five years to car and part manufacturers in order to support strategic, large-scale research and development projects.
“The auto sector is an essential part of the Canadian economy. It has created hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs for Canadians,” Harper said in his remarks following a photo opportunity. “Parts and assembly plants fuel the growth and prosperity of cities like Guelph… they are a major contributor to the wider economies of Ontario, Quebec and Canada as a whole.” Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz added that the pursuit of green technologies made good environmental sense as well as good business sense and she estimated her company will have spent a total of $365 million of such projects by 2013. “We should never wait for the good old days to come back and wait for (auto) production volumes to resume,” she said. “You have to be proactive and find new markets and new products… and continue to grow the company. You have to be proactive about staying ahead of the curve.”
Quick action saves frogs
After weeks of warm, dry weather, a rain finally fell last Monday. Now normally rain is a good thing for plants and animals alike, but for several amphibious animals in the Laird Rd. area between the Hanlon and Downey Rd. it mean a high stakes game of Frogger. Confused? Let me explain. The migratory path of several species of frogs and toads crosses from one side of Laird Road to the other. At this time of year, during particularly warm and wet weather, the amphibians travel from one side of the street to the other, retuning to the waters in which they’ll collect food and hunker down for the winter. Literally hundreds of the animals were killed by passing motorists on Laird Road at the beginning of last week until action by environmentalists and local residents forced the City to close the road to traffic last Tuesday.
Norah and Richard Chaloner along with friend Judy Martin were amongst the people trying to save the frogs and petition the city to close the road to prevent further deaths. But Rajan Philips, manager of transportation planning said that closing the road was not an option because advanced notification was required and appropriate detours needed to be established. On Tuesday afternoon, the Chaloners and Martin, along with members of the group LIMITS brought the remains of 200 dead animals to city hall to prove how big a problem it was. By late afternoon the City’s chief administrative officer, Hans Loewig, told citizens that the city will indeed be shutting down a section of Laird Road between McWilliams Road and Downey Road, from dusk till dawn, for the duration of the migratory season. A more permanent solution of a culvert under Laird Road is being considered by the city.
Other notes in brief
Ward 2 Councillor Ian Findlay posted some statistics on his blog from the first half-month of operation of the pissoirs on Macdonnel and Carden Streets. Between September 1 and 14 over 1,500 litres of urine had been collected between the two locations, over one-third of that total was collected on the weekend of September 11-13, or the first weekend after the University of Guelph opened for business again. So far the only downside is some damage to the privacy screens and one instance of graffiti on signage.
Then, last week in an act of cosmic irony, a vote to end street parking on Elizabeth St. in order to install bike lanes was defeated in a tie in a meeting of the emergency services, community services and operations committee. The tie breaking vote belonged to Coun. Maggie Laidlaw, one of City Hall’s most outspoken advocates for biking in the city, who was in Waterloo that night attending the Ontario Bicycle Summit. The Summit was billed as being dedicated to a vision of "creating a bicycle friendly Ontario for everyone.” Oh, the humanity!