Naming Public Spaces

Should the City honour the memory of fallen police officers and firefighters who gave their lives in performance of their duties? Absolutely.

But what is the most appropriate way? Earlier this year, I moved a motion for staff to bring forward a new-and-improved process for naming public spaces. Public spaces are for gathering, celebrating and inspiring our citizens. The naming of public spaces requires a policy and process that is fair, equitable and respectful. The motion passed – and our Community Design and Environmental Services department is working on it. There will be public consultation as well as input from various advisory groups such as Heritage Guelph.

Right now, we have a policy for street naming that mandates the commemoration of our WWI and WWII veterans. This is a wonderful way to honour those who fought for our freedom. City of Guelph Parks have a policy that parks will be named for those who have made contributions to recreation, sports and/or community service (or the subdivision or street name). This too is a wonderful way to honour those individuals who have contributed in a meaningful way to our community. Last year, the Edward Johnson Music Foundation asked that the public square in front of City Hall be named after Edward Johnson. Last month, three new parks were named after individuals who were on a list of nominees. All three were in new development areas.

We need a comprehensive policy for all public spaces – parks, trails, streets, squares, downtown greenspaces, buildings, and public areas within buildings.

Today’s Mercury brings up some interesting challenges. The daughter of a fallen officer is pushing to have a central downtown greenspace named to commemorate Officers Macauley and Holloway, both police officers killed in the line of duty. But this park already has a historic name, Lornewood, (and the IODE Fountain),  and the site location is not directly connected with either officer.

It’s a good catalyst for the city to get an improved process in place. There are others in our city’s history who should also be commemorated appropriately – two fallen firefighters, pioneers, city leaders, historical figures, etc. – who do not have public monuments, streets or parks named in their honour.  One case in point is Dr. William (Tiger) Dunlop – right hand man to John Galt – who many believe had more to do with Guelph’s early development than Galt himself. Goderich has a the Tiger Dunlop Trail, a civic square and a plaque to honour his role in the Canada Company.

In summary, a truly progressive city – one that respects its founders, leaders and fallen heroes – will rise to the challenge of developing a comprehensive and inclusive policy and process for naming its public spaces.

Tell me your thoughts – add a comment.


Hanlon Changes Proposed

The Ministry of Transportation is planning some major changes to the movement of vehicles along the Hanlon – interchanges and flyovers (overpasses) at every intersection to provide an unimpeded route. Much of the northern portion (Speedvale, Willow, Paisley, Westwood) was approved back in 1995. The southern intersections (College, Stone, Kortright, Laird) are all being examined now with environmental assessments underway.

Public feedback is very, very much needed. The flyovers and interchanges will change the way some neighbourhoods function at crossing points.

Stantec Consulting is the lead for the project – see their site at

Are there alternatives? Yes – one alternatives is roundabouts. Roundabouts are quite successful in Europe with large volumes of traffic. For more information and discussion on roundabouts, see Councillor Findlay’s Ward 2 blog for information and links.

And then provide feedback to the consultants about your ideas and thoughts on the proposed changes.

Speed River Dam

I happened to be in the right place at the right time this year!  I’ve always wanted to see the dam go down behind John McCrae School and I happened to be biking by this Monday at 2:00 pm as the dam was lowered.  Very cool – very noisy!   I came back around 6:00 pm and the pond was about 80% full.  I estimate it takes  a full 4-5 hours to completely fill, depending on water volume in the river.

According to the GRCA staff on site, the dam is not for flood control – it is solely for the purpose of providing recreational use of the river.  Without the dam, the Speed – Eramosa portion of the river would not be navigable by canoe and they get a lot of pressure every year for the dam to be lowered to kick-off the canoeing season.  Makes sense.  But it would be nice if the dam could be raised for the OPIRG Speed River Clean-Up.

The Speed River Clean Up this year will be Saturday, June 9th. This is always a great family event!

Pesticide Issue To Council in May

The Draft By-Law to restrict the use of cosmetic pesticides has passed the committee stage and will come back to full Council at its May 23rd regular meeting. Still lots of time for citizen input or to sign up as delegation if you feel strongly one way or the other.

I get the feeling not a lot of people have read the draft by-law. The media keep calling it a ban. This is creating a lot of fear in the community that the whole city is going to turn into a sea of brown, dead lawns infested with grubs and weeds. This is just not the case. Property owners facing a loss or partial loss of their lawn will have the freedom to take action. But there is no doubt in my mind that vast numbers of homeowners are spraying for no reason. The by-law is designed to offer alternatives.

Read the draft by-law and then add your thoughts here.