Thursday, September 17, 2009

City Hall Official Opens While HCBP Battle Continues

Reminder: The Opening’s Official this weekend

The New City Hall will get its official christening this weekend as city staff and dignitaries roll out the red carpet at 1 Carden Street on Saturday. "Everyone is invited to be part of this historic occasion, as we officially open our new City Hall and come together to celebrate this remarkable new civic facility," says Mayor Karen Farbridge in press release. Farbridge will kick off the festivities with an official greeting at 10:20 am. From 10 till 4 there’ll be entertainment of all sorts and a barbecue lunch that will be served starting at noon. Farbridge will be joined by our local MP Frank Valeriote, Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong, our MPP Liz Sandals, Executive Director Association of Municipalities Ontario Pat Vanini, as well as members of Heritage Guelph and Moriyama & Teshima Architects. And bonus, city buses will run for free from dawn’s early light till 6 pm. So there’s no reason not to go. Ahem.

War of Words or Much Ado About Nothing?

The Hanlon Creek Business Park pot continued to stir last week when things seemed to get a little personal. As you’ll recall, the Mayor said in a city press release about the cancellation of this year’s phase of the project that the city was “held hostage” by a group that occupied the site to stop construction. Next up to bat where a group called “Friends of the Hanlon Creek” who delivered by hand a letter to the home of the owner of Drexler Construction in which they ask him to reconsider doing business with the city on this project. Next thing you know, a police press release said that these Friends, “Verbally and in a written warning, they advised that ‘it would be in his best interests to cease dealing’ with the city on this construction project.”

And now we’re off to the races with police saying “Attempts to intimidate or extort are criminal acts and will not be tolerated by this Police Service,” the release said. “Guelph Police are taking this issue very seriously and appeal to those associated with the protest to cease, desist and discourage this type of action.” And then they asked for anyone with information to call either Guelph Police or Crimestoppers.

Last Wednesday evening, two of the Friends tried to turn themselves in but found the doors to the station locked. Then when they called to switchboard they were told that the investigating officer was not on duty. Julian Ichim and Kelly Pflug-Back were accompanied by their lawyer Davin Charney, and when they couldn’t get into the station, they read the so-called intimidating letter and told their side of the story. “We wanted to go and inform Mr. Drexler about what is going on and appeal to him as a person. There was nothing illegal in our actions,” said Ichim. “We read the letter to the person that answered the door, we gave them the letter, wished them to ‘have a nice day,’ he did the same and then we left.”

The home visit occurred late afternoon on the Friday before the long weekend, and Ichim said that the exchange with the person that answered the door at Drexler’s home was cordial enough. “There is no intimidation in this at all,” Ichim said. “It was an appeal from one concerned citizen to another concerned citizen.” Charney however was less diplomatic in his remarks to the press. “This, to me, seems like another example where the Guelph Police are taking on a political role rather than simply a law enforcement role,” Charney said.

Guelph Police told the Mercury that they’d be having the investigating officer follow up with Ichim and Pfung-Back the next day. Stay tuned for more wackiness on this issue and go to Guelph Politico at for background info.

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