Why 100% Renewables is right for Guelph

This week, Council voted unanimously (13-0) to strive towards meeting 100% of its energy needs using renewable sources by 2050.  It’s bold, it’s aspirational, and it’s doable.  This decision was set in motion through the great work of the Our Energy Guelph (OEG) Taskforce, a group of energy experts tasked with updating our award-winning Community Energy Initiative.  After 15 months of research and public consultation, the OEG recommended that we strive for “net zero” as a community. This includes our stakeholders: residents, business, institutions, and industries.

We – the Corporation of the City of Guelph – chose to go one step better by pledging towards 100% Renewables.  We will lead by example.


There will be those who say “that’s too much” or “what’s the cost?”  During the debate on this issue, one of the questions that circled around was “how can we set a goal without knowing how we will achieve it, or how much it will cost?”

But that’s the point of setting an aspirational goal.  We’ve done it before, with great success.  Over a decade ago we set an ambitious and bold goal “to have the lowest water use per capita than any other municipality in Canada”.  We set that goal because, as a fast-growing groundwater dependent community, we knew that our water supply would limit our quality of life and would inevitably lead to spending billions of dollars on a pipeline to Lake Erie.  When we set the goal, we didn’t know exactly how it would be achieved.  We knew that conservation, new infrastructure and new supply would be part of the solution.  We were successful — Guelph uses less water today than it did a decade ago, including new growth!  Today, we are at the same crossroads.

Today, the alternative energy economy is transforming rapidly.  The need for action on climate change mitigation is critical.  Our soon-to-be hydro utility Alectra Utilities is already talking about energy conservation and new supply generation, and they will be locating their new Green Research and Energy Technology Centre (GR&T) here in Guelph to test new innovations that will move us towards a 100% Renewables future.

The 100% Renewables movement has been embraced by over 1,000 communities worldwide and growing.  http://www.go100percent.org

Guelph is seen as an environmental leader.  The 100% Renewables pledge continues that legacy, but also moves us forward.  Being a 100% Renewables city also poises us for economic development opportunities.  We collectively spend over $500 million per year in energy costs that leave out community.  With renewables, the jobs and energy revenue stay right here.   By planning now for a future of 100% renewables, we can spend your tax dollars on infrastructure that will stand the test of time and keep us resilient when the effects of climate change mount.

The year 2050 is 32 years away.  Think back to where technology was 32 years ago.  The pace at which our world is changing is mind-boggling.  And inspiring.  One of the delegates at Council who came to speak about the 100% Renewables pledge —  Evan Ferrari of Emerge Guelph — has worked in the energy field for three decades.  In his words, “I have never been more hopeful for the future of the environment than now.”


Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan

It’s not within the boundary of Ward 5, but the eventual development of the Clair-Maltby district will have an impact on the whole city.  The area is Guelph’s largest last undeveloped tract, and is home to significant natural heritage and water recharge on the Paris-Galt moraine.   It’s important to have input on how Guelph will grow.  Learn more here.


Ward 5 Town Hall

Ward 5 Town Hall

Thursday, April 19
7–9 p.m.
St. Michael Catholic School, 9 McElderry Road


Rental Housing—What are the regulations? What are the challenges?
Bill Bond, Senior Bylaw Administrator and Pat Sheehy, Program Manager-Zoning, City of Guelph

Homecoming Update
Kathryn Hofer, Manager of Off Campus Living, University of Guelph

City-wide and Ward 5 Updates
Councillors Downer and Piper

St Patrick’s Day – What to Expect

Many Ward 5 residents expressed concerns about the safety, wellbeing and stability of their neighbourhoods after the activities on Homecoming Day, 2017. A very large party at Chancellor’s Way required extra police and bylaw resources. This left other neighbourhoods with reduced coverage.

As our residents and visitors get ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the Joint Operations Team — Guelph Police Service, the University of Guelph, the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit, Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario and City staff— has developed a plan, with lessons learned from past years and events like 2017 Homecoming, to encourage and enforce safe and responsible celebrating.

What can you expect this St. Patrick’s Day?

As in past years, the City’s Bylaw team will patrol neighbourhoods throughout the day and night with an increased Police Service presence
University student spirit teams will be visible in neighbourhoods to encourage proper behaviour and address minor waste issues
Emergency Services staff will report any concerns to Police
Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Inspectors will be available to assist
Guelph Transit will report any concerns to bylaw dispatch
Property standard concerns will be forwarded to City staff for follow up on Monday during normal business hours
Customer Service & Communications
Notices have been mailed to landlords whose residences Bylaw staff have attended in the past, reminding them of their accountability under the Nuisance Party Bylaw
Door hangers that list phone numbers on who to call and report concerns about vehicles, noise, animals, fire and property issues will be distributed this weekend in the most-affected neighbourhoods
Newspaper advertising, social media posts and Guelph.ca will also provide contact information
A bylaw dispatcher will answer calls instead of having to leave a message until 7pmClean up
Transit will maintain waste receptacles at bus stops and monitor ridership to make adjustments as needed.
The University will supply students who have registered as hosting a party with garbage bags and has made arrangements for pickup

Guelph Police Services

GPS has launched a ‘Firm but Fair’ campaign
There will be additional officers
Chief DeRyter’s message – https://youtu.be/3NRGKF4MhO4
We encourage residents to report incidents as they occur and ask for their patience as each call is assessed.

Who to call:

Noise – loud parties, alcohol on street, nuisance parties
Guelph Police – 519-824-1212
Calls are responded in a priority sequence

Vehicles – parking infractions, idling
Bylaw – 519-837-2529

Property Issues – trees, water restrictions, litter
Bylaw – 519-837-2529

Fire –outdoor recreational fires and fireworks
Fire Dept – 519-763-8111

The message is clear — be safe, be respectful and be accountable.

More Updates
The Town and Gown Committee is continuing to meet and develop further strategies for Homecoming 2018. They will have a report ready later this spring.
Ward 5 Town Hall – Thurs., April 19th, 7pm to 9pm
Topic: Student Rental Housing – What are the regulations – What are the challenges
Old University Neighbourhood Residents Association AGM –Thurs., May 10th, 7pm at Harcourt Church (gym)

Town Hall on Homecoming – Update, Questions and Answers

This letter was sent to those who attended our Ward 5 Town Hall on Homecoming.


Ward 5 Town Hall on Homecoming Issues – Update, Q & A
View this email in your browser


Dear Residents

This letter is to update you about the ongoing activities since the Ward 5 Town Hall in November regarding Homecoming and large nuisance parties.

You are receiving this update as you provided an email address when you signed into the November meeting. If you do not want to receive any further updates please click on the ‘unsubscribe’ link at the end of the email.

The purpose of this letter is to provide answers and clarifications to some of the question/issues that were raised at the November meeting.

In early March, we intend to bring you a final update of the new strategies and actions that will be implemented to address the issue. As your Ward 5 Councillors, we are committed to continue working with all stakeholders to find strategies to deal with the increasing number of large nuisance parties that are having a negative impact on the well-being of residents. It is evident that due to a number of factors, including the use of social media to promote parties, there is a need to step up enforcement and develop new approaches to both prevention and response to the problem.

The University of Guelph has set up a Homecoming Working Group 2018, chaired by Brenda Whiteside – VP of Student Affairs. On the committee, representatives from the U of G, near-campus neighbourhood groups and the City have been discussing strategies to respond to the growing number of off campus disturbances associated with Homecoming.
The Town and Gown Committee will also be meeting in February with a focus on preparing for St Patrick’s Day. This group, chaired by Kathryn Hofer – Manager of Off-Campus Living, has been meeting regularly for a number of years with representatives from By-law, zoning, U of G, neighbourhood groups, police, City Councillors and student associations.
In November, Councillor Downer participated as a panelist in a Webinar hosted by the Town & Gown Association of Ontario (TGAO) titled “How do Town & Gown communities respond to large scale post-secondary student street parties?” She and other panelists from Kingston, Hamilton and Waterloo explored the trends and best/emerging practices on how to deal with this growing problem facing University cities. Kathryn Hofer is the President of TGAO. She facilitated the webinar and will be bringing some of the suggestions back to the Working Group and the Town and Gown Committee for further discussion.
McElderry Community Meeting: Thursday, February 22, 7 pm at the Jean Little School, Youngman Drive. They have invited representatives of the Guelph Police Services and City By-Law Department to share their plans for St Patrick’s Day and large student parties. All are welcome.

November Town Hall Questions and Issues

Registered parties – does this mean it is sanctioned by the U of G?

A registered party is not a sanctioned party by the University of Guelph. Students participate in a consultation that provides students with an opportunity to ask any questions that they may have about by-laws and infractions. Tips to reduce the negative impact of the party on the community are provided, which, when followed, in turn reduce the chances of receiving neighbourhood complaints. Students also receive information and resources about alcohol consumption, sexual violence, and host liability.

When registering, students agree online to the terms of party registration, and these terms are discussed during the consultation. The terms identify that the party is neither condoned nor sponsored by the University of Guelph. The terms identify that the party host is responsible for complying with federal, provincial, and local laws, including but not limited to paying any fines or fulfilling any legal obligations that may come their way.

How many student “home visits” have occurred over the last three years?

These are the stats from the U of G.
Approximately 400 student households in near-campus neighbourhoods are visited annually, the weekend prior to Homecoming, through the Right Foot Forward program.

Fall Semester 2017
36 contacts initiated by community members, resulting in 27 visits to students homes
23 address visits initiated through joint enforcement identification

2016-2017 Academic Year
55 contacts initiated by community members, resulting in 41 visits to student homes
35 of these contacts were initiated during the Fall Semester
5 address visits initiated through joint enforcement identification

2015-2016 Academic Year
20 contacts initiated by community members, resulting in 28 visits to student homes
15 of these contacts were initiated during the Fall Semester
7 address visits initiated through joint enforcement identification

2014-2015 Academic Year
58 contacts initiated by community members, resulting in 64 visits to student homes
38 of these contacts were initiated during the Fall Semester
9 address visits initiated through joint enforcement identification

How is U of G collecting and communicating to students about the impacts (Photos, personal statements, etc.) ?

Meetings of the Homecoming Working Group are currently under way and recommendations brought forward by this group will be incorporated into the communication strategy for Homecoming.

Can students be fined by U of G?

There are a variety of outcomes and penalties through the Community Standards Protocol. The determined approach is case by case and is assessed on a variety of factors. If a case moves forward to a judicial process, receiving a financial penalty is one possible outcome.

Question: Would the U of G consider cancelling Homecoming?

The experiences from other post-secondary campuses in Ontario that have piloted the cancellation of Homecoming tell us that students will host off-campus events in response to a cancellation, resulting in a “Fake Homecoming”. A Fake Homecoming is likely to be just as large, or larger, and has the potential to be more disruptive due to the ‘backlash’ nature of events like this.

Question: Can the U of G hold all events on campus?

The strategy of hosting additional events on campus is being discussed by the Homecoming Working Group.

Question: Can the U of G suspend or expel a student who participates or organizes a nuisance party?

If a case moves forward to a judicial process, receiving a suspension/expulsion is one possible outcome, but is unlikely for an off-campus incident. Charges and penalties under our Nuisance Party by-law may be more effective.

Question: If U of G judicial/off campus protocols are voluntary, can they made mandatory?

Five of the six options on the response continuum of the Community Standards Protocol encourage the voluntary participation of students. Voluntary participation encourages active engagement in the process and follow through with a change in behaviour. If students do not voluntarily participate in the options, then a non-voluntary option comes into play. A review of the Community Standards Protocol is being discussed by the Homecoming Working Group.

Question: Why doesn’t the U of G Build more on campus housing?

The current demand for on-campus housing for students is being met. After first year, the majority of students have a preference to live off campus and will choose to do so even if on campus residence is available.

Question: Can there be student communication that pop-up parties are not permitted and use social media to broadcast consequences?

This strategy, and other communication solutions, are being discussed by the Homecoming Working Group.

Question: Can we distinguish between number of individual calls and number of ‘calls for service’?

Bylaw -If a party is ongoing and three neighbours call, this is only recorded as one incident. However, the complaints would be added onto the call for service to indicate that more than one call was received. This usually changes the priority of the call and officers are sent ASAP.
Police – If multiple people call in for the same incident then it is only entered in as one call for service. Otherwise the stats would be distorted and not in line with the requirements with Canada Stats. They do not track how many people call in for one incident. There might be an entry in the call that multiple people called but it is not captured to be made available as data.


Guelph Natural Heritage Action Plan – have your say

Ward 5 is host to a number of significant Natural Heritage features – the river valley, Hanlon Creek Park, the Arboretum. The City is looking for your help to prioritize actions and create an implemation plan for the NHAP. No expertise needed….just a desire to make Guelph a better place now and in the future.

There are workshops on Jan 16th and 18th.

More info here:


New Main Library- have your say!

Coming Soon

The Guelph Public Library Board is hosting two open house meetings to present updated information regarding a new Main Library. The new facility is intended to be part of the proposed Baker District Project. KPMG has been contracted to present a business Case for a new facility to City Council on February 13th, 2018.

When: Tuesday, January 9th 2-4 pm and 6-8pm
Where: Main LIbrary, Programming Room (2nd Floor), 100 Norfolk Street

Why come to the open house?

This opportunity is to reintroduce the idea of a Main Library. Please share what you want to see within a new Main Library.

– Bring your ideas for the best use of public space.
– We will review the major elements of our August 2017 (updated) Functional
– We will discuss examples fo how other cities in Ontario, and Canada have
developed their main libraries.

For more information:
Steven Kraft, CEO, Guelph Public Library
519-824-6220, ext. 224


The Learning Curve on Electric Vehicles


My trusted Matrix took its dying breath on the Hanlon a few weeks ago.  Saying good-bye was harder than I thought it would be, because so many memories with my kids happened in that car – road trips, camping, horse shows, and teenagers learning to drive with their G1.   But I won’t miss the roll up windows, the familiar rattles and the gas mileage in its later years.

And so I began the search for my next vehicle… and learned quite a few new things along the way.  The installation of new electric car charging stations  — Stone Road Mall, University of Guelph and the County of Wellington office on Wyndham Street  — made the idea of buying a full electric vehicle (EV) worth considering.  The more I looked at buying an EV, the more sense it made.

  • no gas!
  • up to $14K rebate from Province (lease or purchase)
  • a rapily-growing network of charging stations in Guelph and across Ontario
  • evolving technology means batteries can be swapped for higher-range versions
  • zero emissions

I’ll admit that I did have “range anxiety” at first.  This is a common initial hesitation of many potential electric vehicle consumers.  Over the course of two weeks, I did a mileage audit of my frequent trips and realized most of my driving is local, and even GTA or KW trips can be accommodated with planned parking where an EV charging station is available.  I even found a cool mobile app (PlugShare) where EV owners offer to share their home charging stations with other EV owners.

The next step was a trip to the Plug ‘n’ Drive EV Centre in Toronto.  Plug’n Drive is a non-profit organization that offers information on electric vehicles, but is not a sales centre, so the information is unbiased.  They have test drive vehicles from a variety of manufacturers (yes, they have a Tesla on site too).  I was able to test drive three different EV (Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt and BMW i3).   The staff are knowledgeable about all of the benefits, models and incentives programs.  I followed up this field trip to the closest Kia dealership with an EV in stock (Burlington) to test drive the electric Soul.

After a test drive, I was sold on the Soul.  It’s been three weeks with my new EV and so far so good.  Most public charging stations (such as County of Wellington building) were free until July 1, but are now recouping their costs by charging or flat or hourly rate.  Charging at home is now the most economical option.  As an added bonus, there is a $1000 provincial rebate for new owners to install a home charging station.  Incentivizing the purchase of an electric vehicle is based on the same principle as low-flush toilet and washer rebates — there is a great social or environmental benefit to promoting a cultural or technological shift.

Since becoming an EV owner, I have discovered even more benefits….

  • Regenerative brakes help to extend range (they recharge the battery on deceleration), so cool
  • Three different charging levels (1, 2 and 3) means I can fully charge the car in 25 minutes, or 24 hours, depending on the hook up
  • No oil changes, no engine fluids…my first maintenance check is at 30,000 km
  • So quiet!  A combustion engine sounds very noisy to me now!
  • EVs in Ontario come with green licence plates, which can be used in HOV lanes
  • There are many mobile apps that map the location of EV charging stations and I have not had any issues finding a location to charge
  • Pick up acceleration is amazing, even on the Gordon Street and Eramosa hills
  • People love to ask about the EV and I have had many great conversations with other EV owners and curious EV future owners

Transportation infrastructure is changing. Climate change and the transition to clean and renewable energy in Ontario is driving (forgive the pun) a new economy.   New EV models are coming in the fall — the VW e-Golf and the Hyundai Ioniq for example.  Auto manufacturing in Canada could see a new future if we are able to produce electric cars here at home.   Volvo recently announced it will only make EVs and hybrids as of 2019.

Guelph has always been on the forefront of the shift to green technologies.  EVs are the future in my opinion.  I see a role for the municipality in building the infrastructure to support this shift sooner than later.  EV charging stations are planned for the future Wilson Street parking facility.  This is just the beginning ….