Thursday, May 19, 2011

Top 5 Stories to Watch in the Summer

Summer unofficially kicks off this weekend with the Victoria Day long weekend and assorted festivities, so let’s run down the Top 5 news stories that might be making waves in the Royal City this summer.

5) Gas Prices

John Lawson may have come in fourth place in the Federal Election, but he does get first place in being able to prognosticate the future. During our interview last month, Lawson told me that he believed that that gas prices would hit $1.50 per litre this summer, and it seems he’s going to be proven right, as gas prices flirted with the $1.40 mark last week. “There’s no one in the mainline parties that [understands] that this is just the beginning,” said Lawson. “Now there are no alternatives, and what we need to begin now is looking at real alternatives. My vision for Guelph would be one that is largely self-sustainable for each house.” Of course, this isn’t an issue that impacts Guelph alone, but it will add to driver headaches on the road, which are already affected by a redux from last summer.

4) Road Construction

Granted if you head down to Carden Street it might look like the construction monster has come back to Guelph to rooster, but the city swears that this year will be a more chilled construction season. "The Guelph Remastered campaign did what typical road construction signs couldn’t do," says Tara Sprigg, Manager, Corporate Communications. "Guelph Remastered connected people to important information and helped residents understand that more than 20 construction projects were part of one huge infrastructure renewal program." Still, residents are sure to notice, especially if they take a drive downtown. Most major construction projects are expected to wrap by Fall.

3) The Gummer Building

After nearly three years, will this be the summer that will finally see some progress made on the revitalized Gummer Building. “We’re going to get going as soon as possible,” chief operations officer Jason Ashdown said back in April. “I hope to give the crane a test run (Wednesday) and be back under construction within two to three weeks.” I took that from my a post on Guelph Politico on April 6th, and unless something’s changed in the time between me writing this and it getting published in this issue of Echo Weekly, really no progress has been made. The historic Gummer Building was destroyed by fire on Good Friday, April 6th, 2007. A consortium of Skyline employees later purchased the building for redevelopment, getting tax credits form the city for preserving the historic visage. Construction ceased in the Summer of 2008 as the Global Recession started heating up and funds started drying up. The Co-operators will be the majority tenant in the building, which has now been approved to include a number of rental units as well.

2) Provincial Election

Yes friends, our election fun isn’t over, it’s just on hiatus until Fall. Come September, we’ll be gearing up for the Provincial Election, trying to decide whether or not to give Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals the hat trick, or if Tim Hudak’s PCs or Andrea Horwath’s NDPs get the nod. In Guelph, we know that our current MPP Liz Sandals will run again for the Liberals, but it’s a pretty interesting slate shaping up with the rest of the main parties. Well-known singer/songwriter James Gordon looks to be the likely nominee for the New Democrats, and will likely be acclaimed at the party’s nomination meeting on June 13 at 7:30 pm at the Guelph Youth Music Centre. Over at the Green Party, former city councillor Mike Salisbury is going up against riding association vice-president Steve Dyck at the Greens’ Annual General Meeting on June 7 from 7 to 9 pm at Norfolk Street United Church. Meanwhile, a name has yet to be dropped for the Progressive Conservatives, but a nomination meeting is in the works.

1) The Health Unit

When McGuinty came to town last week, the topic of the City’s tiff with the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit naturally came up in conversation. The Premier said that the dissolving the Health Unit, as proposed by a recent unanimous motion in city council, is not an option and that it’s his government’s job to help resolve the issue “and to do so in a way that doesn’t compromise public health along the way.” The “issue” is the WDG Health Unit’s push to build a new facility in Guelph, with the city being stuck with the cheque for $10 million. McGuinty’s comments weren’t cool with some members of city council, like Ward 4 rep Cam Guthrie. “I don’t know if the premier’s comments, to me, really can stand. We didn’t ask the premier to be the assessor… I don’t think it’s the premier’s role to jump to conclusions without have a proper process done.” The issue is far from settled.

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