Gow’s Bridge Closure Update

Frequently Asked Questions about the closure of Gow’s Bridge…

Q:  Why is the bridge closed? 

A:   The bridge is closed to vehicles as result of the York Trunk Sewer and Paisley-Clythe Feedermain project.  This is a major infrastructure renewal project and the area under the roadway will be excavated and sewer, watermain and storm sewer replacement will occur. 

Q:  What exactly is the part that is closed?

A:   Only the section of McCrae Blvd on the NORTH side of the river is closed, technically speaking.  The bridge will remain open for south bound vehicles to exit Royal City Park and go over the bridge to Water Street.  This is a temporary reversal of the current one-way bridge traffic.

Q:  How long will the bridge be closed?

A:  The bridge and roadway will be closed until mid-August.

Q:  Can cyclists and pedestrians use the bridge?

A:  Yes, the bridge is open so that cyclists and pedestrians can cross and then meet up with the Royal City Park trail between McCrae Blvd and Gordon Street (eastern portion of the park only).  The park trail between McCrae and Edinburgh is closed on the north side of the river.  The trail on the south side of the river is open.  

Q:   Is park access open on the north side of the river?

A:  Yes, the park access road on the north side of the river is open to pedestrians and cyclists — but only on the EAST side between McCrae and Gordon.

Q:  Where can I find further information?

A:  Go to the City website HERE for further information.

Here is a MAP of the traffic impacts.

YorkTrunkDiagramforWeb

Posted in Operations | Leave a comment

Mayor Karen Farbridge Recognized for Leadership

We often don’t recognize how well-regarded our city and our Mayor are until we leave the city limits.  The Canadian Urban Institute knows that great cities are no accident.  Leadership at all levels — politicians, staff and community — work together to develop and achieve great things.

Mayor Karen Farbridge has championed Guelph’s interests for well over a decade, much of it paying off this term.  Read about the City Builder Award that will bestowed upon our Mayor by the Canadian Urban Institute.

Congratulations Karen!

LP

Posted in 2014 Election | Leave a comment

A Race to the Bottom: Public Sector vs. Private Sector

Ontario’s economy shifting from “stable full-time jobs to shaky part-time jobs”? Toronto Star

“The wage and pension divide between public and private sector is growing.” Globe and Mail.

The latest election trend demonizing public sector workers is disturbing.   Perhaps it’s the ‘Rob Ford’ effect, but it appears that the wages and pensions of public sector workers will be fodder for the upcoming municipal election debate. For it to have any traction, there must be a wedge, a crisis, and demon to hate, so that a candidate can come in and solve it all. The solutions are usually the same old tricks — privatize public services, cut jobs, slash benefits, get tough with unions, open a snitch line to ‘out’ all the abusers and turn full-time jobs into part-time positions.

How does this help our community? Well, it doesn’t.

Public sector workers are our neighbours who live in and contribute to our community. They are the skilled, hard-working citizens who pick up our waste, process our ‘biosolids’, maintain our parks and trees, fix our potholes and plough our streets. They deserve respect. And a living wage.

The gap between a public sector and private sector job used to be the other way around. The recession economy has shifted the paradigm. The result has been to protect corporate prosperity, but has done little for private sectors workers who have seen frozen wages, layoffs, off-shore production, and pension and benefit erosion. The widening gap is not because the public sector is out of control, but because the private sector isn’t keeping pace.

Rather than focusing on the race to the bottom, why don’t we look at it another way…

What if we focus on creating a local economy that attracts and retains employers who offer stable and quality jobs?

What if we create value-added jobs and policies that support local business and economic development?

What if increase the value of public sector investments (capital and labour) so that we lower operating expenses (ie. increased transit ridership)?

It’s time to stop the race to the bottom by blaming the public sector.

LP

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“Why Didn’t You Just Say That in the First Place?”

Yesterday, in response to a question from a local resident, I tried to explain that “Tax-Increment-Based Grants” (TIBG) were not giveaways, nor are they paid for by current taxpayers.

TIBGs are the most misunderstood term in the world. We really need to invent a new word for TIBGs. As part of the conversation, I gave an example of a vacant property paying $1000 in taxes per year in its current undeveloped state. Then, after it was fully developed, it would generate $32,000 in taxes per year (32x its current value). Then, after it is built and we get the tax revenue, we give some of it back to the developer for a fixed time (eg. 5 years) to offset their cost of cleaning up the vacant lot. After that, we keep all the revenue and the money goes back to lower tax increases across the whole city.

She responded, “So you’re just giving the developers back their own money?”

“Yes, exactly,” I said.

Well why didn’t you just say that in the first place?” was her response.

It’s that simple.

LP

Posted in Finance | Leave a comment

Rental Housing Licencing Update

LEANNE’S 2014  ELECTION SITE CLICK HERE

In a surprise twist, City of Guelph staff are recommending that licensing of rental housing be abandoned, and that the city continue enhanced enforcement and education initiatives in its place.

The Rental Housing Licensing report is to be presented to the Planning, Building, Engineering, and Environment (PBEE) committee on Monday, May 5 at 2:00 pm.  Any member of the public who wishes to comment or speak to this report should contact the Clerks office at clerks@guelph.ca.  

Read the full report here.

Although there has been success with enhanced pro-active enforcement in the last two years, licensing was never intended to deal with tenant behaviour issues (noise, property standards, garbage, etc.).  We have by-laws for these concerns.  Licensing was intended to protect tenant health and safety, and prevent neighbourhood destabilization.  Licensing is a different tool with its own distinct purpose, separate from by-laws.

There are great landlords in Guelph who comply with regulations and offer safe, clean and affordable housing to our citizens.  However, there are others who knowingly and willingly rent sub-standard accommodations to the most vulnerable in our community, and should be held accountable.

Without right of entry to inspect, and in the absence of prohibitive fines for the those who knowingly rent illegal accommodation, the abandonment of licensing is simply the status quo.  We owe our tenant-citizens better.

I would love to know what you think?   Abandon the idea altogether?  Defer licensing, and then pursue right of entry and stiffer fines?  Or full steam ahead on licensing?

LP

Posted in Housing | Leave a comment

Happy St. George’s Day!

April 23 comes and goes each year and Guelph, like most cities, hums along as if it is any other day.  St. Patrick’s Day gets all the partying!  St. George’s Day, not so much…

April 23 honours the patron saint of England, Saint George, slayer of dragons.  It also marks the date that Guelph was founded by John Galt, who ceremoniously chopped down a tree and proclaimed his new city.  Galt tells the story best in his autobiography:

“It was consistent with my plan to invest our ceremony with a little mystery, the better to make it be remembered. …The tree fell with a crash of accumulating thunder, as if ancient Nature were alarmed at the entrance of social man into her innocent solitudes with his sorrows, his follies, and his crimes. I do not suppose that the sublimity of the occasion was unfelt by the others, for I noticed that after the tree fell, there was a funereal pause, as when the coffin is lowered into the grave ; it was, however, of short duration, for the doctor pulled a flask of whisky from his bosom, and we drank prosperity to the City of Guelph.

The name [Guelph] was chosen in compliment to the royal family, both because I thought it auspicious in itself, and because I could not recollect that it had ever been before used in all the king’s dominions….

It may appear ludicrous to many readers, that I look on this incident with gravity, but in truth I am very serious ; for although Guelph is not so situated as ever to become celebrated for foreign commerce, the location possesses many advantages independent of being situated on a tongue of land surrounded by a clear and rapid stream. It will be seen by the map of the province, that it stands almost in the centre of the table-land, which separates four of the great lakes, namely, Ontario, Simcoe, Huron, and Erie, and though its own river, the Speed, as I named it, is not large, yet at the town it receives the Eramosa…advantages which few inland towns in the whole world can boast of at such a distance from the sea. In planning the city, for I will still dignify it by that title, though applied at first in derision, I had, like the lawyers in establishing their fees, an eye to futurity in the magnitude of the parts.”

I hope we’ve done you proud Mr. Galt.

LP

Posted in Heritage & Culture | Leave a comment

TIF Grants: Giveaways or Good Policy?

A recent letter to the editor in a local paper decried the use of brownfield grant incentives given to Tricar, the developer who is building on the former Marsh Tire site on the corner of Wellington and Macdonell.  See letter here.

This is the not the first time I have heard the sentiment “we shouldn’t be giving away taxpayer money to developers.”   But is that really what we are doing?  In reality, grant recipients give much MORE back in taxes than they receive from the city.

The Downtown Activation Grants and brownfield grants are tax-increment financed (TIF) grants.  This means that:

a)  the grant amount is calculated based on future taxes generated from the site post-development,

b) grant money is not paid until the site begins generating revenue through new tax assessment,

c) grants are time-limited,

d) grants are earmarked for projects that have barriers to construction (such as contamination, bedrock, risk), and

e)  if the site does not generate the anticipated assessment, the grant is adjusted.

TIF grants are risk-free, pay for themselves, and pay back into the city revenue stream over the long-term. Let’s take a closer look at a project (simplified for clarity):

  • Site P is a brownfield, a former gas station, that must be cleaned up prior to development, and has been sitting vacant for over 10 years.
  • Infrastructure adjacent to the site (water, wastewater, hyrdro, roads, transit, etc.) is underutilized, but already fully paid for.
  • Current tax revenue generated by the  vacant, contaminated site is $1,000 per year.
  • The owner plans to develop a 25-unit, 4-storey stacked townhouse on the property, which will generate $15,000 per year in taxes to the city once constructed and occupied.
  • A portion of the increased tax revenue, $10,000 per year, generated from the developed site is granted back for 5 years ($50,000) is granted back to the developer in the form of a TIF grant.
  • The city still receives additional revenue ($4,000 per year) and yields the full benefit of increased taxation after five years and in perpetuity.
  • The developer receives the money after construction is complete and the site is generating the anticipated assessment.

CONCLUSION:   TIF grants are a win-win-win.  The city wins because a vacant and contaminated site is cleaned up, the developer wins because the project moves ahead and the grant offsets clean-up costs, and the taxpayer wins because increased revenue is generated and contributes to the cost of infrastructure and future operating budgets.

 

LP

 

Posted in City Services, Economic Development | Leave a comment