Sidewalks are For Walking

I’ve been asked by several constituents about my lone vote against residential sidewalk clearing last Monday evening…

I support the city clearing arterial road sidewalks, bus stops, central business district sidewalks and public facilities.  However, I believe residential side streets should be eliminated from the 2010 budget (not this year).  I also support an assistance program for residents who are not physically able to clear sidewalks.

My reasons for supporting the discontinuation of residential sidewalk clearing are as follows:

1.  The quality of sidewalk clearing is not adequate to make the sidewalks walkable.  The current ploughs leave a compacted layer of snow and ice, which is more dangerous to walk on than a sidewalk that has been cleared by residents with a snow shovel or snow blower.  If our goal is to keep our city walkable, we need residents to play a role.   Last year, most pedestrians (including mail carriers and school children) walked on the road, because the sidewalks were not walkable.

2.  Sidewalk ploughs currently dispatched to clear residential streets are not able to meet the established turnaround time for clearing snow.  These same ploughs can be reassigned to clear arterial roads and bus stops faster.

3.  Phase 2 of the Sidewalk Winter Control report will examine new and improved ways to increase the quality of residential sidewalk clearing, ie. using snow blowers vs. mechanical ploughs.  The report states that the use of snow blowers takes a lot more time and resources = the cost will go up dramatically!

4.  50% of residents surveyed (as part of the service review process) indicated they would be willing to clear their own sidewalks, which means we, as a community, can really make a difference.

5.  We are one of three municipalities left in Ontario that still clear residential side streets.  We need to ask ourselves, as we move forward as a growing municipality, if this is a service that is worth continuing, given rising fuel prices and increased development.  Are we creating an expectation that we will deliver a service that is not sustainable?

In the end, I respect the democratic process and the collective voice of Council. The vote passed 11-1 to continue residential sidewalk clearing and therefore, I respect the decision of Council.   We will now move forward with Phase 2 of the service review — to find efficiencies and improvements in delivery of the service.


Community Event – Order of Canada Recipient Celebrated

A Community Recognition of

Sister Christine

and her appointment to the

Order of Canada

Join us in Celebration

James Gordon

Sam Turton

Brad Wood

Dennis Gaumond
and Tales by:

Ann Estill

Brian Holstein

The Ghost of Sister Romano

Sya VanGeest

Father Bill Clarke, S.J.

Wednesday, November 26,

from 7:00 until 9:00 pm


St. James Anglican Church Hall

86 Glasgow St N, Guelph.


Admission is free,

Donations in support of “WELCOME IN”

For more information, contact

What Do Councillors Do Anyway?

It’s a question often asked — and a good one that deserves an answer.  This week, the Governance and Economic Development committee considered a report on Full-time vs. Part-time Councillors.  The report compares other Ontario municipalities and the bottom line is that all of them are very different.  Burlington (population 151,000) is the closest municipality in size to Guelph with full-time councillors.  Burlington is also part of an regional (upper-tier) municipality, which is different than Guelph.

The G & ED Committee is NOT recommending a move to full-time councillors.  I agree.  I believe we do not yet have a population that warrants full-time councillors.  If we had full-time councillors, we would not need 12 of them, which means fewer voices around the table.  And finally, if councillors were full-time it would limit the pool of candidates to those who are retired, independently wealthy or willing to give up another job and income for a minimum of four years.   I think the committe made the right decision.

That being said, what is expected of a part-time councillor?  Are part-time councillors considered 0.3 (of a full-time equivalent or FTE) or 0.5 or 0.7?  There is no definitive answer to that question.  In our current council, some have outside full-time jobs on top of their role as city councillors.  Others are retired, self-employed or have taken a leave from other work.

What do councillors do?  The list below is an attempt to answer that question using a typical week workload.  I have also added an approximate range of how many hours (per week) each activity involves.  The answers are from my own perspective and experience only.

  • Attend Council meetings, including in-camera (3-5 hours)
  • Attend Standing committee meetings (3-5 hours * I am on two standing committees)
  • Read materials, reports, studies, data, agendas, minutes, etc. to prepare for each meeting (3-5 hours)
  • Prepare for and attend appointed outside advisory committees and boards (6-8 hours)  * I sit on Family and Children’s Services, Heritage Guelph, Career Education Council and MacDonald Stewart Art Centre.
  • Attend public events ie. ribbon cuttings, flag raising, meet and greets (2 – 10 hours per week, varies)
  • Attend public consultation meetings and open house (ie. planning meetings, neighbourhood groups) (0-8 hours)
  • Community Outreach (town halls, coffee chats, Rogers TV, speaking requests)  (0-8 hours, varies)  * Last week, I was a guest on Politically Speaking, attended a neighbourhood mtg re: student housing and attended the launch of the Great Tree Hunt = 5.5 hours)
  • Constituency inquiries – answer phone calls and emails (2-4 hours)
  • Other (reading material on municipal governance, research, staying informed on issues across Canada, etc.)  (0-4 hours)
  • Council workshops – ie. budget “season”, governance and professional development workshops, etc. (0-5 hours)

That’s all I  can think of for now….I hope this is helpful in understanding the “typical week-in-the-life” of a city councillor.


Mayor Delivers Annual State of the City Address

Mayor Farbridge delivered her annual State of the City address to the Guelph Chamber of Commerce this morning, where she received a standing ovation following her presentation.

The Mayor focused on key achievements within the Strategic Plan, as well as the principles of good governance that Council follows in order to achieve our goals.

The Mayor’s State of the City address presentation is available online at: