Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vandals, Evictions and Pollinators

Updates and Evictions

Despite grassroots support – and a cover story in last week’s Echo – it appears that Ray Mitchell’s fight to save the space he’s operated his Family Thrift Store from for 16 years, is over. After I interviewed Mitchell for last week’s cover story, he was handed a 30-day notice by his landlord Milan Lesic. Mitchell and Lesic were unable to reach an agreement on terms of a new lease; Lesic wanted six months, Mitchell wanted three-to-five years. Mitchell may be able to move his business into the building formally occupied by Wyndham Arts, but it would only be a temporary salvation. “We’re out of here at the end of the month, and I think we’re going out with a seven day music festival,” Mitchell told me last Thursday. “Rather than be negative, we’ll be positive because that makes city hall feel even worse.” The seven day festival is tentatively to be called “Thrift-stock” adds Mitchell.

Quarterly Vandalism spree hits core

Several proprietors and employees of 20 different downtown sites were greeted with delightful messages of "kill police and their families," "fight the pigs," "kill police," "we are winning," and "No 2010 Olympics on stolen native land," last weekend. The River Run Centre, Old Quebec Street mall, Knox Presbyterian Church and the law office of Hungerford, Guthrie and Berry were amongst the venues not sparred from the spree. Strong anti-police sentiments are a regular in graffiti incidents in town; several squad cars were spray-painted in April 2007. As for the anti-Olympic lobby, this follows an occurrence back in November where the McDonalds on Wellington and Gordon was vandalized to the tune of $5,000. There’s currently no evidence of a connection between the incidents, but police are still investigating.

It’s a (tentative) deal!

With three days to spare before a strike deadline, the City of Guelph reached a tentative deal with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) locals 241, 973 and 1946, who represent approximately 550 outside, inside and library employees. Details of the settlement will be available when all parties have had an opportunity to present the settlement to their respective principals for ratification. The CUPE locals have been working with out a contract since January 31 and a strike deadline of Friday, March 6 at 12:01 am was set.

Valeriote talks cars

Our local MP demonstrated again last week that he’s a man of parliamentary action, as Frank Valeriote was appointed to a committee studying the crisis in the auto industry. Five Members of Parliament will sit on the sub-committee which begins its work immediately and will report its findings and recommendations to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology by March 24, 2009. “The auto industry has been a driving force in Canada’s economy and has contributed to the vitality and prosperity of communities right across this country. Canadian families depend on the good jobs that have traditionally been associated with the auto sector,” said Valeriote in a press release. “This study is a welcome opportunity to study the industry, share information with Canadians about the industry, and draw conclusions as to the appropriate federal response to address this crisis.”

Pollinator Postponed

Last week, council formally approved a plan to turn part of the old Eastview landfill into a pollinator park, but cost issues in some aspects of the conversion may slow the process. The first phase of creating a community park on the old landfill site – which will include the creation of lit football fields (both kinds) – will cost about $1.74 million, an amount that’s already been budgeted. The remaining costs, totalling about $6.8 million, may have to be spread over five or six years. But at least the pollinator function of the park should proceed in a timely manner; the city’s planning chief, Jim Riddell, says that the non-profit group called Pollinator Guelph will handle fundraising responsibilities to install pollinator-friendly plantings without any direct cost to the city. The pollinator park project is part of a sustainability effort to combat the decline of pollinators like bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and moths

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