Thursday, October 22, 2009

Money Problems, Pissoirs Pulled and Climate Change

No Money, Mo’ Problems

It appears that despite rumours to the contrary, the economy hasn’t quite reached recovery status quite yet as it seems the recession is taking a sledgehammer to coffers city wide. A summary report prepared by the City’s chief administrative officer Hans Loewig was released a few weeks ago showing that the city’s revenues were entering into serious deficit territory, though not quite the $8.1 million as initially reported. The forecast deficit will probably be closer to $4 million, but don’t think for a minute that that’s got people sweating any less about the financial forecast. There’s talk of their being less money to go around in the form of cuts to grants and other expenditures, and the governance committee last week nixed the idea of spending $5,000 on a consultant to analyze the citizens’ committee findings for the scheduled market review of council remuneration.

Additionally, last week at the annual meeting of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, local chamber president Andrew Anderson had this to say about this year in business for Guelph: “Obviously, the last year has been less than stellar for most.” Anderson made these comments to the Mercury after the Chamber’s meeting at the Delta Hotel on Gordon. Keynote speaker, and Ontario Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive, Len Crispino told the audience that there’s room for optimism because our pre-recession domestic economy was strong and he endorsed the integration of Federal and provincial sales tax scheduled to be phased in July 1st as a good move to help businesses’ bottom line.

Of course, this discussion of recovery/not-recovery situation comes mere weeks after the Guelph Community Foundation’s second annual Vital Signs report card that gave the city Cs and Ds for the growing gap between the poor. Amongst the statistics presented: the richest 10 per cent of families earns more than six times the amount of the poorest 10 per cent; the Guelph and Wellington Ontario Works caseload increased by more than 30 per cent between April 2008 and April 2009; and the unemployment rate in Guelph since June 2008 has increased by 84.8 per cent. So is the economy recovering? I guess that depends on where you stand.

Pissoirs Pulled

Looking to pee downtown? Well, you’re stuck again with the indoor variety as the outdoor pissers, sorry: pissoirs, have been pulled with the conclusion of the two month-long pilot project. As you’ll recall, the controversial project was brought to city council by the Downtown Night Life Task Force which includes representatives from downtown businesses, the Downtown Guelph Business Association, Guelph Police Service, the University of Guelph and the City of Guelph. The pissoirs (I hate that word) were part of a three pronged assault on public urination downtown, which also included heightened awareness and greater enforcement of by-laws against peeing where you feel like as if you’re a common dog. City staff monitored the level of use, the number of by-law infringements and number of calls for maintenance during the pilot. Reports will be made to City Council on the assessment of the pilot project in the coming weeks, so look for that information when it comes across my desk.

Fight Climate Change this Weekend

Guelph will be holding its own celebrations in recognition of the International Day of Climate Action this Saturday at St. George’s Church. From Noon to 4 pm there will be several activities in order to promote “fun and reflection on how we will create a sustainable future.” Amongst the all ages activities will be arts and crafts, face painting, music and other entertainment (like story telling), an art show featuring local talent and information from local organizations dedicated to sustainability and environmental protection. When the sun goes down, come back to St. George’s for a public presentation by David Noble, a Guelph-based entrepreneur, author, and climate change advocate recently recognized by the Guelph Mercury as one of the city’s 40 Under 40. There will also be a musical performance by James Gordon. For more information, check out the Guelph Climate Festival on Facebook at

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