Thursday, November 13, 2008

Groceries, Parking and City Hall

New Company Ready to Finish City Hall

Alberici Constructors have been given the daunting task of completing the in-limbo City Hall construction project. The Burlington-based company was officially hired Thursday October 30 to oversee the remaining 10 per cent of construction in the Carden Street building. "It's a little bit of a discovery job," Steve Moffatt, senior vice-president of operations for Alberici Constructors Ltd, told the Guelph Mercury. "I don't know much about Urbacon and what happened. What I want to focus on is moving forward." Hans Loewig, Guelph’s chief administrative officer said that the company will be paid an hourly rate till the project’s complete, but the final tally’s not expected to exceed the remaining $3.8 million in the budget. The company says that they’ll need two weeks to put together a timeline for completion.

Good News South End! You’re Getting a Grocery Store… Eventually.

The south end of Guelph is getting closer to seeing a new grocery store from the Loblaws chain of stores being built in their side of town, but the there’s still no date in sights as to when exactly that will be. City council unanimously approved phase 1 of a secondary development at Gordon and Claire Roads. Loblaw Properties Limited, in turn, withdrew their appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board which was scheduled to start later this month. The appeal was in response to a change in Guelph's large mixed-use planning policies that effectively rescinded an early 2006 approval for the site. Phase 1 calls for a bank, transit terminal and three smaller buildings, as well as some councillor added amendments to take the environment and aesthetics into consideration. Still, there’s no word on when a new grocery store might be built, and according to Steve Thompson, director of planning development and approvals for LPL, the evolving company directive is the result of changing local business competition, the declined economy and staff changes at head office.

Parking Plans Publicized

A public open house to look over the plans for a parking garage at Wilson and Carden Streets took place last week. The intention of the facility is to make sure that it fits downtown both aesthetically and functionally. Aside from six-storeys worth of parking, the conceptual design revealed features including brick and stone facades, street-level commercial space, public washrooms, LEED sustainability measures and parking for at least 30 bicycles. The preliminary plan will see construction begin next August with a completion date of May 2010 in mind. All-in-all, the projects is expected to cost roughly $14.75 million, and with a planned 395 spaces, it means a $37,000 per parking spot price tag.

Temporary Shelter Opens

In a follow-up to last week’s story about the tent city protest in St. George’s Square, the city’s temporary youth shelter on Delhi St. opened on schedule last Wednesday, November 5. The shelter, operated by Wyndham House at the Delhi Community Centre, will have 12 temporary and emergency beds for youths and will be open from 6:30 pm to 8 am daily. "City Council committed funds for the shelter during last year’s budget process in order to provide supports for local youth in need," said Mayor Karen Farbridge. "We are moving forward as quickly as possible with the permanent shelter, and in the meantime, we are pleased to be able to offer space at our Delhi Street facility."

Bodies Found (No, Not Like That)

It was a bit of a Halloween surprise for work crews repairing the foundations of the Church of Our Lady on October 23 when they came across human remains while digging in the parking lot. To answer your first question: no, they’re not fresh. The approximately 30 graves belonged to early Guelph settlers buried between 1832 and 1847 and were parishioners of St. Patrick’s Church, the first Church on the hill in Guelph. This isn’t the first time in recent years that digging in downtown has led to the discovery of skeletons beneath the pavement. A number of remains were found beneath Baker Street during repairs to that road in 2005.

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