Thursday, September 10, 2009

Top Five of Summer '09

With Labour Day past, it’s time to look back at the summer that was. For our friends only now returning to town after several months gone, here’s your checklist of what issues arose, and where they stand now.

1) Pissoirs

Hey, what’s that fenced off eyesore in the parking lot next to Sun Sun’s? Why that’s your brand-spanking new outdoor toilet, men’s only, and its part of a month-long project to see if their presence is going to reduce the number of incidences of people peeing in alleys, doorways and culverts. And as a bonus, they’re brand new in time for Frosh Week. The instillation of these pissoirs was a subject of much debate, the number, duration and price tag for these open-air toilets being the subject of much discussion in committees and council meetings throughout June and July. And yes ladies, despite the topic being brought up in conversation, these devices were not made with you in mind.

2) A River Runs Through It

There was an unsightly surprise for the staff of the River Run Centre when they returned from the Victoria Day long weekend to find a false alarm caused 8,000 gallons of water to rain down on the main stage. Several performances in late May and early June were cancelled, postponed or moved to another venue as clean-up and temporary repairs for safety were completed. All in all, the total bill for damage and other costs will come to about $300,000. The sprinklers have since been replaced with a fire curtain.

3) Why is this Road dug up?

The short answer is money. Lots of it. Federal stimulus money announced earlier this year trickled down to Guelph resulting in a flurry of road construction around town, with the lion’s share taking place downtown. At one point, the only access to the core was via Woolwich, and the bus transfer point in St. George’s Square was itself transferred to the road in front of the River Run and Sleeman Centre for two harrowing weeks. And speaking of buses, you may have observed that they now all have bike racks up front. It’s all part of the city’s commitment to make Guelph more bike friendly.

4) City Hall’s Grand Opening Postponed

After the sudden, accidental death of Bishop Macdonell student in a wall collapse in a public park in the south end, the grand opening of the new City Hall was deferred until September out of respect. The incident spurred a top level review of the structural soundness of many public washroom facilities in the city, a review still underway. Meanwhile, the new Grand Opening for City Hall will take place on Saturday September 19th and part of the celebrations will be free buses all day.

5) Protesters Occupy Hanlon Creek Business Park

By far the biggest story of summer was the three week long occupation of the lands of the future Hanlon Creek Business Park, and the improbable victory of those protesters in court. After the city attempted to remove them through injunction, the protesters lawyer filed an injunction of their own on the basis that the Ministry of Natural Resources weren’t given ample enough time to consider the implications of the start of construction on the probably presence of the endangered Jefferson Salamander. Two weeks ago, the MNR said it was cool for the City to proceed with phase one and the construction of a culvert in the site, but that more testing would have to be done come spring and the mating season of the salamander. Now accusations of sabotage and thievery are being brandied about as someone stole several environmental monitors at the end of August, and a large trench was redug on the site last week. This one is far from over.

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