Council decides Standing Committee, board and agency appointments

Guelph, ON, December 16, 2014 – Last night, Guelph City Council finalized all appointments to the Standing Committees, Boards and Agencies. Council has aligned its standing committees with City Hall’s new organizational structure, and appointed members for a two year term.

Council Standing Committees

Audit Committee – Mayor Guthrie and Councillors Allt, MacKinnon, Van Hellemond and Wettstein (Chair)
Corporate Services – Mayor Guthrie and Councillors Allt, Billings, Hofland (Chair), and MacKinnon
Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise – Mayor Guthrie and Councillors Bell (Chair), Gibson, Piper and Salisbury
Public Services – Mayor Guthrie and Councillors Billings, Downer (Chair), Gordon and Van Hellemond
Governance Committee – Mayor Guthrie (Chair) and Councillors Wettstein, Hofland, Bell and Downer
Nominating Committee – Mayor Guthrie (Chair) and Councillors Wettstein, Hofland, Bell and Downer

Boards and Agencies

Board of Trustees of The Elliott Community – Councillor Gordon
Grand River Conservation Authority – Councillors Bell and Salisbury
Guelph Junction Railway Company Directors – Mayor Guthrie
Guelph Police Services Board – Mayor Guthrie and Councillor Piper
Guelph Public Library Board – Councillor Gordon
MacDonald Stewart Community Art Centre Board – Councillor Allt
Well Interference Committee – Councillors Allt, Gibson and Van Hellemond
Downtown Guelph Business Association – Councillors Downer and Gibson
Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. – Councillor Wettstein
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health – Councillors Billings, Hofland and MacKinnon

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Wonder if this could work in Guelph? Cool article about Calgary’s successful city-owned home ownership plan:

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Subject: Dec. 8 City Council meeting

Mr. Mayor and City Councillors,

I attended last evening’s city council planning meeting to its very late end.  I’d like to offer a few comments about the meeting.
1)  For a first planning meeting of the new City Council, I felt that the agenda was too full.  The result was that the meeting went far too late into the evening.  I noted a few councillors trying to stifle or hide yawns during delegation presentations.  Some councillors appeared confused at times about details of the planning process, details of a development application, and possibly even on the vote for 781 Victoria Road – after a series of motions.  I don’t believe sound planning decisions can be made when everyone is tired and wanting to get the council meeting finished.
2)  During the last agenda item of the meeting, a councillor asked what the repercussions would be if the application was rejected.  Mr. Salter explained that the matter would possibly be taken to the Ontario Municipal Board, an outcome that appeared to raise concerns. I don’t believe sound planning decisions can be made based on the threat of an OMB hearing.  I understand that in this case, if the application was rejected, the staff report and recommendation on the application would be in conflict with City Council.  Staff reports cover the legal and technical specifics of an application but I feel that Council needs to consider other less tangible aspects for the benefit of the City as a whole.
3)  City Councillors have a large amount of material to read and consider prior to council planning meetings, some of which is fairly technical.  Councillors must therefore rely on the staff recommendations and reports when making a final decision on an application.  I hope, however, that City Council does not simply become a “rubber stamp” in the planning process as other aspects need to be considered that can’t always be covered by staff.
4)  I noted last evening (well after midnight) that several councillors voiced opinions and concerns about the development application for 781 Victoria Road South.  One councillor spoke against the application but when the final vote came, voted to approve the development as shown on the large overhead screen.  I thought that councillor looked confused and a bit taken aback as if the wrong vote registered.  One could attribute this to the very late hour and to the fact that it was a very long planning meeting.  There had also been two other motions made on this application prior to the final one which at that late hour might have caused some confusion.  I could be wrong but that was my impression.
It was an interesting meeting and I commend City Council for their diligence.

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The  December 9 1:30 a.m. decision by Guelph City Council to approve a subdivision of 18 luxury homes on one of Guelph’s most scenic natural areas is a bad blunder according to LRG3 spokesperson Hugh Whiteley.  Despite a plea from the Mayor for Council to defer discussion until important questions raised by delegations had been answered the majority of Council, with only desultory discussion, passed a motion to approve the subdivision.

Whiteley points to three major aspects of this proposal, not dealt with in the staff report, that strongly support rejection of the proposal and which were entirely overlooked by City Council.

(1) Protection of Guelph’s water supply

The City of Guelph has, in the past, been far-sighted and prudent in prohibiting potentially polluting activities in the lands adjacent to its water supply wells in Puslinch Township. In 1970 Fred Woods, City Administrator, commended the wisdom of an earlier City Council in acquiring a large block of land adjacent to the Arkell Spring Grounds and another block adjacent to the Carter wells on Torrance Creek. This action, Mr Woods noted,  afforded protection to a resource then worth millions  (and now worth tens of millions).

The proposed subdivision at 781 Victoria is 300 m away from the Carter wells and immediately adjacent to the Arboretum Tributary of Torrance Creek that joins the main Torrance Creek at the location of the Carter wells. These wells draw water from Torrance Creek by induced infiltration as wellas from deeper groundwater.. The approval of the subdivision poses an appreciable threat to the water quality of both the tributary and the groundwater sources for the Carter wells.

Had the subdivision not been approved all of the subcatchment for the Torrance Creek tributary would have been protected as a natural area. This would afford full and proper protection to the Carter Wells by extending the protection area around the wells (and owned by the City) to the watershed boundary.

(2) Protection of Scenic Natural Areas

The City of Guelph’s Official Plan requires the City to “To preserve and enhance the existing protected views and vistas of Guelph’s built and natural features, identify potential new views and vistas and establish means to protect these from encroachments or discordant elements.”

The staff review of the 781 Victoria proposal made no reference to this obligation on the City in the Official Plan.

No assessment was made of the scenic value of the vista across the proposed subdivision site to the Significant Woodland, Significant  Wetland and Significant Valleyland that surrounds it.

The decision to permit the subdivision removes one of Guelph’s most attractive natural vistas and contradicts the requirement repeated in another section of the Official Plan To maintain and enhance natural river valleys, vistas and other aesthetic qualities of the environment.

(3) Restoration Areas to restore bio-diversity to the Natural Heritage System

The third issue concerning 781 Victoria overlooked in the staff analysis was opportunity to enhance the Natural Heritage System by adding the meadow as a Restoration Area.

One of the major goals of the 2001 Official Plan was to “Respect and encourage the protection and enhancement of the natural environment, other distinctive features of the landscape and the associated ecological functions to support a healthy and diverse ecosystem both within and beyond the City limits.

Enhancement of the biodiversity of the natural environment in Guelph is an urgent need. Meadow areas are the least protected Ecological Land Classification unit in Ontario. Both the 2004 Hanlon Creek State-of-the-Watershed Study and the 2009 Guelph Natural Heritage Strategy Final Report emphasized the perilous state and rapidly diminishing area of meadow land in Guelph. Both reports called for enhanced protection of meadows and the 2009 NHS Report called for conservation of cultural meadows, such as the one at 781 Victoria, especially in the south end of Guelph where the rate of loss of meadow was highest.

Having documented the loss of meadow land the 2009 NHS report identified areas where naturalization and restoration could help redress this loss. The report only dealt with city owned land as candidate areas for consideration. This deficiency was identified and the report recommended that “additional effort should be put towards identification of all potential naturalization and restoration opportunities in the City, on public and private lands, as time and resources permit.”

The Torrance Creek Subwatershed Study; Management Strategy (1999) identified the meadow at 781 Victoria as one of the few areas available in the Torrance Creek subwatershed for addition to the Natural Heritage System as a Restoration Area. The meadow was described as already well advanced in naturalization (from previous agricultural use early in the twentieth century) and the recommendation was made that this naturalization be allowed to continue to add biodiversity to the natural environment.

Despite the perilous state of meadows, the importance of restoring biodiversity, and the recommendations of the 1999 Torrance Creek Management Strategy and the  2009 Natural Heritage Strategy Report City Staff made no comment or recommendation for protection of the meadow at 781 Victoria as a Restoration Area.

It will be difficult for City Council to remedy the blunder made in approving the subdivision at 781 Victoria.  Nevertheless LRG3 asks that the decision be reviewed, not only in light of the three important local issues that were overlooked but because the decision contravenes The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Provincial policy that requires the City to  Curb sprawl and protect farmland and green spaces. 

LRG3 also hopes that this blunder convinces both greenhorn councillors and the more experienced members of Council that full public consultation, comprehensive staff review,  and ample time for decision-making are essential prerequisites for wise decision making on planning issues.

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For more information contact Hugh Whiteley 519 824 935 or

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Something for the whole family at market square in front of city hall

A good family seasonal event at City Hall Thursday

A good family seasonal event at City Hall Thursday

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Ministry of Education Proposing New Process for School Closures

This could have an impact on some of our older Guelph Schools: JG

December 9, 2014

Ministry of Education Proposing New Process for School Closures

The Ministry of Education is revising the Pupil Accommodation Review Guidelines (PARG) that governs the local school board process to consider school closures. There are a number of significant proposed changes including:

  • a new role for municipal governments in the Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) process;
  • a shift away from consideration of the impact of school closures to community well-being and the local economy toward a more exclusive focus on student achievement;
  • reduction in the duration and number of public meetings required for the Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) process; and,
  • provisions to consider school closings without an ARC.

Please see the Ministry of Education overview of the proposed changes at:  Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline (PARG) Consultations.

The Ministry will accept feedback up until December 18th, 2014. The new guidelines will be released in January 2015.

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Join us for Guelph Public Library’s Evening for Book Lovers – seeking sponsors, donors,and guests

From GPL.

book lovers

Hi Friends!

Join us for Guelph Public Library’s annual
Evening for Book Lovers
fundraiser – a dinner, silent auction, and entertainment in support of the library on
Saturday February 28th 2015.

Over the past three years, this evening has grown into a much anticipated community event, helping to raise important funds for our organization. Hosted by Magic 106.1 FM’s Kevin and Lisa, attendees of this year’s spy themed event will enjoy a fabulous dinner and silent auction festivities in an exciting casino atmosphere, as we celebrate one of the most popular genres in fiction. There are lots of great items to win including a VIA Rail Getaway for two, sports memorabilia, original art work, a trip to Vegas, and lots more! Entertainment will be provided by Viva Las Vegas casino company and guests are encouraged to bring out their inner James Bond, Jason Bourne, Nancy Drew, or Stephanie Plum for this royale evening.
Tickets are $85 per person/or $600 per table of 8, and can be purchased at
or at any library location until they are sold out.

We are also currently seeking interested sponsors and auction donors for this event, and would be thrilled if you would consider joining us, as support from our community is vital – and your partnership would mean a lot.

For additional event information and ways to get involved please click
here, or contact Kirsten at or 519.824.6220 ext.302.

We hope we will have the opportunity to engage you and your organization with our cause…literacy and lifelong learning within our community.

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