Letter to the community from the Mayor about construction

Please find below an “open letter to the community” the mayor posted on her blog this morning (you can also read it by following the link: http://mayorsblog.guelph.ca/2011/07/29/an-open-letter-to-the-community-about-construction/ ) This letter is also being sent to the Mercury, the Tribune, City staff, and to Goetz.   Staff

An open letter to the community about construction

July 29, 2011

This is a thank you letter.

First I’d like to thank residents, businesses and visitors for their continued patience as we work to complete an unprecedented amount of work on our aging buildings, roads, sewers and water systems. Thank you for putting up with the noise, mess and inconvenience that goes along with construction.

Next, I’d like to thank each and every member of the crews working on construction sites all over the city. It’s hard work, and it’s tough to make friends when you’re tearing up roads, but rest assured that we value the work you do, and we understand how it will benefit our community for years to come.

Finally, I’d like to thank the men and women who make up the City’s Engineering team and other City employees for working together under extraordinary circumstances to co-ordinate multiple contractors, sub-contractors, and utility providers for more than 20 road reconstruction projects in the past two years. Because of your dedication, Guelph is able to take advantage of $44 million in Federal and Provincial funding, and completed almost five years’ of work last year.

Not surprisingly, City Hall is criticized for disruptions during construction projects, particularly when a project doesn’t go according to plan. We accept that. The nature of this kind of work—especially where multiple contractors and 80-year-old infrastructure goes—is unpredictable. We know this work impacts people’s lives—some to a small degree and others more significantly. While we do our best to mitigate these impacts, we cannot make them disappear.

What is surprising is that, despite doing almost five times more work than usual, the City received about the same number of complaints. On the other hand, we’ve received phone calls and letters thanking construction workers and City staff for their hard work, telling us for instance how great Norfolk Street looks with new trees and lighting, and letting us know they’re looking forward to skating on the new rink at Market Square.

Throughout recent construction, overall the people who live, work and visit Guelph have shown they understand the importance of the work being done, and support the people making it happen.

But that doesn’t mean that it has been easy.

Stories in the news recently have featured the behaviour of a few shop owners in the Market Square district.

Many have been inconvenienced by the infrastructure work in the downtown area over the last couple of years—not surprisingly this is where we find our oldest infrastructure—and the Carden Street area has felt the brunt of this work.

Since construction on Carden Street started, City representatives have regularly visited Carden and Wilson Street stores to respond to questions or comments, discuss site issues, make special arrangements for deliveries, parking and waste pick-up. City Council has unanimously supported the development of a program, in collaboration with the property and business owners in the Market Square district, to promote retail activity in the area with the opening of Market Square. Unfortunately, despite the City’s ongoing efforts to be forthcoming and accommodating, a few individuals continue to publicly condemn the project, the City and its employees.

Our focus must be on finishing the project as quickly as possible. The construction company on the site understands the urgency. Council understands the urgency. Together, Guelph residents and businesses donated more than $1 million to build Guelph’s Market Square and there is growing excitement and enthusiasm in the rest of the community.

The City will continue communicating with shop owners about upcoming construction activities, and we’ll work with businesses to minimize disruptions as much as possible as we complete the rest of the work on Carden Street and Market Square. We will work with those property and businesses owners who are willing to make Market Square a success for the residents and businesses.

Unfortunately, we have to continue to tough it out as construction continues for a few more months. I know we’ll all be thankful when it’s over. In the meantime, on behalf of Council, I thank you again for your continued patience.

Karen Farbridge

Mayor

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