Downtown redevelopment brings out crowd
Last Tuesday, it was a full house at a City Council meeting as councillors approved the new variation of the C2 plan to build the new main branch of the public library at a site at the north end of Wyndham. Good news for fans of a new library, but really bad news for the business owners and patrons of the current occupants of the four properties that’ll need to be demolished to make it happen. In fact many of the people in the gallery, along with six delegations that spoke at the meeting, were there to support Ray Mitchell and his business, the Family Thrift Store, which Mitchell has owned and operated for the last 16 years.
Despite the interest and the speakers, the motion passed by a vote of 10-2 with only Gloria Kovach and Christine Billings voting against. The vote seemed to come down to more a matter of supporting the new library that’s been in the works for years, rather than being against the businesses on that corner. In s city press release, the Mayor touted the vote as a measure to help rejuvenate the city’s core. "I am delighted that after years of work and study, we are moving forward with a design concept for our much-needed new central library. This design concept is the best choice for the library, and the best choice for the revitalization of the north end of our downtown," said Karen Farbridge.
The property between the Family Thrift Store and Cowboy Bar has been in limbo for the last few years as debate over library plans raged. One of the block’s biggest tenants, Wyndham Arts, moved to another location on Wyndham last fall, seemingly in anticipation of this decision. As for Mitchell and other business owners, the Guelph Downtown Business Association says that they’re going to assist displaced business owners and tenants, but that won’t do much for the artists and musicians renting studio space above the Family Thrift Store, or those living in about 30 affordable apartments in the same buildings. We’ll be covering this story as it develops.
Feel like a municipal strike?
It could be in the cards as the City of Guelph continues its collective agreement negotiations with Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) locals 241, 973 and 1946. The unions’ previous contracts expired on January 31. A provincial conciliator has been requested and appointed to provide mediation services to both parties in an attempt to reach a settlement. The next meeting is set to take place on March 2; a tentative strike deadline of Friday March 6 at 12:01 am has been arranged. CUPE locals 241, 973 and 1946 represent approximately 550 outside, inside and library employees.
Hanlon improvements mean headaches for some
The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario unveiled its latest plan for upgrading the Hanlon Expressway for the consideration of city council in March. So you can only image what happened next. If you said, somebody’s against the plan, you’d be either a lucky guesser or a long-time resident of Guelph. Yes, residents on Old Colony Trail are quite displeased with the plan which calls for a service road on the west side of the Expressway connecting Kortright/Downey to Stone Roads, to be built right behind their homes. The MTO says that the plans, if initiated, would not encroach on the properties on Old Colony Trail, with the exception of three at the south end near Woodland Glen Drive. Further, the MTO has pledged to work with affected residents on a one-to-one basis, but they are firm in their contention that this is the best of all options following public consultation and feedback last Fall.
The LIMITS (Land Is More Important Than Sprawl) press conference scheduled for last Thursday (February 19) was postponed until Friday because the group didn’t want to compete with U.S. President Barack Obama’s official visit to Canada. But due to the move, the conference was held a day too late for Echo’s deadline, so for details head to “Guelph Politico” at http://guelphpolitico.blogspot.com for more information.