Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guelph of Tomorrow and Commuter Challenge

Envisioning the Guelph of Tomorrow

For three nights last week, members of the Guelph community were invited to city hall to get a frightening glimpse of the year 2031. Well, it wasn’t so much “frightening” as it was daunting. Several large maps covered the walls of Meeting Room C in City Hall, while several slide cards were on display at the front of the room giving the reader a bullet point breakdown of the plan. On each table were several copies of the revised Official Plan and always nearby was a City of Guelph employee ready to decode an aspect for you educational pleasure.

So what’s in store for the future? Well, to begin with, the fine art of balancing various mandates on all three levels of government. Ontario’s “Places to Grow” legislation says that we’ve got to cram 50,000 more people into our fair city in the next 21 years, but we can’t grow past our set borders. So in short there’s going to be a lot of intensification. In fact, the Official Plan identifies several areas in the City where intensification will be intensified. But what does “intensification” mean? For starters increased residential/employment density since the City is aiming for 57 jobs for every 100 residents. It also means a mix of office, institutional and commercial space with an array services like park land, rec and cultural centres.

By now you’re wondering if you are in a potential intensification corridor. Well, if you live along York Road (between Watson and Victoria), Silvercreek (between Willow and Speedvale), Stone (between Hanlon and Gordon), Elmira (between Delhi and Stevenson) or Gordon (between Stone and Clairfields), you do. Also, look for Silvercreek Junction, the so-called Lafarge site, to move ahead with its redevelopment plan, which includes commercial mixed, high density residential and significant natural areas.

Of course, in the age of great environmental sensitivity, great strains have been made to make the new plan more green conscience. From new bike lanes and trails to methods to decrease light and noise pollution to maximizing energy conservation efforts, the new Official plan pulls out all the stops so far as satisfying those with a slant towards Mother Earth. As well, efforts will be made to preserve the City’s architectural heritage while ensuring that new buildings blend well with the existing ones. Also, an official plan specific to downtown will be drawn up later.

If any of this has got you interested in seeing the official plan for yourself, you can at

We accept your Challenge!

I wasn’t sure who challenged us and why, but arrived in my inbox was notice that the gauntlet was thrown down for Guelph to save mass quantities of energy this summer, and it has been picked up. Between now and August 11, the City of Guelph is asking residents to take the Power Pledge and reduce energy use as part of Ontario’s Community Conservation Challenge, said the city press release. “Guelph has participated in this Challenge since the first anniversary of the blackout in August 2003," says Mayor Karen Farbridge. "Guelph is committed to energy conservation and fighting climate change as part of our Community Energy Initiative. The Community Conservation Challenge reminds each of us that we have a role to play in building a sustainable energy future for Guelph."

The Community Conservation Challenge is province-wide. Challenge winners earn “green” awards and the chance to be named Ontario’s most conservation-conscious communities. Last year’s Community Challenge winners were Sioux Lookout for most participation and Kingston for total megawatt reduction. As for who’s putting this on, the Community Challenge is a collaboration of the Ontario Power Authority, the Independent Electricity System Operator, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Electricity Distributors Association and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and their associated members, according to the same release. Learn more at

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