No Jefferson Salamander on Hanlon Creek Busines Park Lands

CITY OF GUELPH NEWS RELEASE

Salamander monitoring finds no Jefferson Salamander presence on Hanlon Creek Business Park lands

GUELPH, ON, May 10, 2010 – Results of the recently completed salamander monitoring program indicate no Jefferson Salamander presence within the Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP) lands.

Natural Resource Solutions Inc. completed a comprehensive salamander monitoring program at the site between March 11 and April 30, on behalf of the City of Guelph, Belmont Equity (HCBP) Holdings Ltd. and Guelph Land Holdings Ltd. The monitoring program was developed in consultation with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Guelph District Office, City staff and Dr. Jim Bogart, Chair of the Jefferson Salamander Recovery Team.

The monitoring program included 5.5 kilometres of drift fencing, 122 minnow traps and 611 pitfall traps to monitor location and direction of salamander movement to and from potential breeding grounds. The monitoring program was undertaken during peak salamander breeding season when salamanders begin emerging from their overwintering sites and migrating to breeding ponds.

Thirteen salamanders were captured and sampled during the monitoring program. DNA extraction and analysis was then performed at the University of Guelph by Dr. Bogart. In all cases, the DNA analysis found no presence of pure Jefferson salamanders or Jefferson-dominated polyploids (Jefferson-dominated unisexuals).

“In consultation with Dr. Jim Bogart and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, we have concluded that there is no Jefferson Salamander presence on the Hanlon Creek Business Park lands,” stated Mayor Karen Farbridge. “We will move forward with our plans to service and develop these important employment lands and grow jobs in our community while ensuring excellence in environmental protection and restoration. In Guelph, sustainability and prosperity go hand in hand.”

On May 7, 2010 the City received confirmation from the MNR, Guelph District that the 2010 salamander monitoring program was rigorous enough to ascertain the presence of Jefferson Salamanders on the site. Based on the results of the program, the MNR, Guelph District also stated that there are no requirements for authorizations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the HCBP and that no agreement or permit under the ESA is required to proceed with development of the business park.

The City will be moving forward with the development of the HCBP subdivision as approved by the Ontario Municipal Board in November 2006. The 2010 salamander monitoring program has provided additional information on the location and movement of other amphibians within the HCBP subdivision. This additional information will be used to consider design refinements and to undertake measures for wildlife protection during construction activities.

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Statement from Mayor Farbridge Re: Arbitration Outcome

Statement from the Office of Mayor Karen Farbridge
GUELPH, ON, January 26, 2010

Earlier today the City and the County received Arbitrator Colbourne’s decision relating to the apportionment of prescribed costs for Ontario Works, the Ontario Disability Support Program, child care, social housing, and land ambulance between the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington.

Arbitrator Colbourne has ruled the method for apportioning costs for Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program will be based on the residence of recipients, which is how costs are currently apportioned; the method for apportioning child care costs will be based on the residence of recipients for fee subsidy and special needs resourcing, and based on the location of the centre for wage subsidy, which is how costs are currently apportioned; the method for apportioning costs for social housing will be based on the prior residence of tenants, a departure from the current 75/25 split; and the method for apportioning land ambulance average call cost will be based on location of calls for four call codes, another departure from the current method of splitting costs based on population.

We are disappointed with the decision.  While we need time to understand the full implications, at this time the ruling raises more questions than answers.

With respect to accountability and transparency for Guelph taxpayers, our concern is the situation is now worse; it’s not premature to say this will be a key task for Guelph’s new social services committee, the striking of which was approved by City Council last night.

Some of the points in the ruling are in contradiction with the recent findings of the Auditor General, as outlined in his December 2009 annual report—an obvious point of concern.

With respect to land ambulance, we do not understand why Guelph/Wellington has now become the only region in Ontario that shares costs based on location of call, which will increase administrative costs for both the City and the County.

While the City is disappointed with the decision, we feel the process has revealed important information with respect to the breakdown of discretionary versus mandatory services provided by the County, and how Guelph taxpayers’ money is spent.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Mayor Karen Farbridge
E karen.farbridge@guelph.ca

Yes, I support the Hanlon Creek Business Park

A friend asked me last week why members of Council have been “silent” on the Hanlon Creek Business Park issue. I suppose I never thought that I was being silent — because Council unanimously endorsed the project. Our collective position is very clear.

The recent events (most notably the on-site protest, injunction, Minister’s approval and the decision to resume work next year) have been widely reported in the media. No one from the media has ever contacted me, or any other member of council that I am aware of, other than the Mayor. The Mayor has the support of Council on moving forward with the HCBP, as evidenced by the vote to approve the site plan.

We are not moving forward blindly. This is a well-planned project that has been through years of extensive consultation and a thorough public process, resulting in environmental conditions that will protect and enhance the land. I attended the public meeting of LIMITS, including a second meeting where I was the only councillor in attendance, and have become well-read on Jefferson Salamander breeding habitat, among other things. I have also walked the site and am familiar with its natural heritage, beauty and features. I am deeply committed to protecting our environment, water sources, public health, trees, air quality, etc.

My support of the HCBP is not in conflict with these values. I truly believe this project is different. I believe this project balances the environment, economy and social/cultural fabric of our community. I do not believe the Jefferson Salamander is compromised by this project, nor the old growth forest or wetlands that protect our water supply. Land uses will be limited to those that do not pose a risk to the site. Significant wetlands and old growth forest areas are not being paved over. This is not a typical “industrial park” that you may think of in other parts of the city. Great care has been taken, and will be taken, to ensure the development meets the goals of the Community Energy Plan. A significant portion of the site has been farmed for the past century. The finished development will have more trees than the current site.

I am hopeful the project will move ahead successfully when work resumes in 2010. When it comes to protecting the natural heritage of our city as a whole, there are still areas that need protection and require public participation and diligence. The city has developed a Natural Heritage Strategy that will unfold over the next year. I encourage members of the community (including HCBP protestors) to participate in the democratic public process related to the NHS.

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.

LP

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:

http://guelph.ca/cityhall.cfm?subCatID=1835&smocid=2411

LP

Guelph Hydro Business Case BDR Review Summary Available

Findings of GHESIHorizon business case analysis made available

GUELPH, ON, September 19, 2008 – The City of Guelph has received agreement from BDR to allow it to release a summary of its analysis of a business case concerning the proposed merger between Guelph Hydro Electric System Inc. (GHESI) and Horizon Utilities Corp (H.U.C.).

BDR is the consulting firm retained to conduct an expert, independent peer review of the GHESIHorizon business case and accompanying analysis performed by Deloitte.

BDR’s conclusion after thorough analysis is that the business case is fair and reasonable from a financial point of view.

A summary of BDR’s findings are available at guelph.ca.

http://www.guelph.ca/uploads/administration/Guelph-Final-Presentation-single-electric.pdf

Trying to Do the Right Thing

Last night, Council voted to eliminate the cosmetic use of pesticides within the City of Guelph. There are exceptions (read the by-law), but for the most part, the days of indiscriminate spraying of pesticides on lawns in Guelph is over. Exceptions for insect infestation (grubs and chinch bugs) will end January 1, 2009.

The new pesticide-free Guelph will require a cultural and behavioural shift. I think this community is up for it – we’re a resourceful and responsible group!  So I will be joining the healthy lawn revolution too….

Although I would much rather tear up my lawn and create a lush Ontario native shade garden, the reality is that I still need a stretch of lawn. You see, I have three boys (and a daughter) and therefore, backyard soccer, badminton, volleyball and other lawn activities are still very much a part of our foreseeable future.

I’ve never sprayed pesticides on my lawn. But then again, I’ve never aspired to have the perfect lawn either. I’m okay with dandelions – they make great salad greens BTW – and the birds love the grubs.

This year, I have decided to try some of the techniques suggested by the City of Guelph “healthy lawn” education program to see if they make a difference. I completed the first step last week – dethatching and new “Eco-Lawn” seed with homemade compost. Thankfully, the rain soaked everything yesterday. So far so good….

LP