Carden Street re-opens to traffic on Saturday, August 13

One-way traffic and parking on-street as construction continues
in Market Square

GUELPH, ON, August 12, 2011 – Starting tomorrow evening,
vehicles will be able to travel on Carden Street while construction continues on
the rink, water feature, pavilion, seating areas, trees and landscaping in
Guelph’s Market Square.

“Crews are still working on site, so we ask that people drive
carefully in the area,” says Richard Henry, City Engineer. “Drivers will be able
to travel one way, eastbound, between Wilson Street and Wyndham Street, and
there are more than 30 parking spaces in front of the shops and

When Guelph’s Market Square, rink, water feature and pavilion
are completed in December, Carden Street will accommodate two-way traffic and

“We are very excited to see the square taking shape,” says Ian
Panabaker, the City’s Corporate Manager of Downtown Renewal. “At this point we
can begin to see how big and beautiful it will be when it’s finished. This
December, we get to skate in the square for the very first time and people will
keep coming downtown, year after year, to skate in the winter and cool off in
the summer. It will be the perfect spot to enjoy a festival, special event, or
to just hang out.”

The City plans to pour the concrete for the rink next month, and
is already working on the oval-shaped glass pavilion which will house public
washrooms, lockers, seating and a drinking fountain. The pavilion will also
store the zamboni and the controls for the rink and water feature.

“Unfortunately, initial submissions to build the pavilion
exceeded the approved budget,” add Henry. “We had to re-work the design of the
building and re-tender this part of the project, and that’s set us back by about
three months on the square.”

The City is already making plans for a grand opening and other
events to welcome people to Guelph’s Market Square. Event announcements and
project updates will be available

Guelph’s Market
Square is designed to create a beautiful community space that will serve as a
year-round setting for civic and cultural events and daily shopping. In front of
City Hall, the square will feature an outdoor rink and water feature, seating
areas, trees and landscaping and an oval-shaped glass pavilion to house
washrooms, lockers, seating and a water fountain. The rink is funded in part by
Federal and Provincial Recreations Infrastructure Funds. As part of the project,
the City is completely renewing Carden Street including watermains, sewers,
sidewalks, landscaping and a new paver brick surface. Construction started in
August 2010 and will continue through December 2011.

– 30 –

Richard Henry, City
Engineer/General Manager
Engineering Services, Planning
& Building, Engineering and Environment

T 519-822-1260 x 2248

Ian Panabaker, Corporate Manager
Downtown Renewal
Office of the CAO

T 519-822-1260  x 2475

Stacey Hare, Senior Communications
and Issues Management Coordinator
T 519-822-1260 x
C 519-829-0999

108 Forest Perspective

Preamble: Infill and intensification are widely-used buzz words these days. Places to Grow and the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan (GGHGP) will put pressure on municipalities like Guelph to grow smarter. Terms like “mixed-use” and “walkable communities” are being used by planners and the development industry to describe desirable forms of growth. But it remains unclear — in Guelph at least — what that means on the ground. What does it look like and what impact will it have in established neighbourhoods? Like everything in life, there is good and bad in everything. There is good development and bad development. Such is the case with infill and intensification projects.

In the case of the proposed development of 108 Forest (former site of St. Pauls School), it is really important that we get this right. It is one of the first infill development proposals to come to Council since the GGHGP came to light.

The site developers (Dr. Doug Friars and Thomasfield Homes) have come forward with a plan that includes six medical offices, nine loft apartments and 12 stacked townhouses on a 1 hectare site.

View the proposal.

On the surface, it sounds great. It has the “mixed use” component, and provides a medium-density form of housing that adds diverse housing forms to the neighbourhood and helps to achieve intensification goals. What’s so wrong with that? Nothing really. Guelph needs more office space for medical doctors and more housing within walking distance to shopping, schools and ammenities.

So what’s the problem?

Each site is unique, and this proposal is specific to the 108 Forest property. So the question is whether or not this specific proposal fits on this specific property?

Good Points

To be honest, the proposal has some good points.

1. Both developers are local reputable chaps. Dr. Friars has been involved in developing medical offices in the past (Dawson Road). Thomasfield Homes (Tom Kriszan) is a quality builder with an excellent reputation.

2. They’ve assembled a good team – architect Lloyd Grinham, planning consultant Nancy Shoemaker and engineer Chris Sims are all tops in their field and have done many quality infill projects in Guelph in the past.

3. The site has two mature elms that have been spared in the plan.

4. Medium density housing adds a new mix to the neighbourhood – which is mostly single family detached and large apartment building complexes.

So What’s the Bad News?

1. The school additions are overdone – a parking garage and two floors on top. Technically, the top level is one-and-a-half story lofts, but the visual effect will be three stories from ground level. The apartment entrances and another second parking garage will be on the eastern property line where the neighbouring home owner will be negatively impacted. The windows of the proposed apartments will look into the backyard, which contains a pool.

2. The term “medium density” does not equal affordable housing. Each unit will be more than 2000 sq ft with a projected selling price in the $450K range. This is not the type of infill and intensification that the GGHGP encourages. Granted, there is a market for retirement housing within the community as the population ages and that’s fine – but let’s just not pretend this proposal contains affordable housing for seniors.

3. Second and third floor balconies on the townhouse units will overlook existing private backyards.

4. The site needs severe grading. Retaining walls will not be small landscape features – there will be extreme grade changes and 8 ft high walls in some places.

5. Office uses within a residential street is precedent setting. The city’s official plan prescribes mixed-use commercial and office uses on arterial and collector roads. Forest Street is neither. The fact that it’s only five houses away from an arterial road is not a valid argument. There is a complete mixed-use node less than a block away that is ripe for intensification. The Edinburgh-Municipal node should be intensified in order to accommodate additional needed office space.

6. The neighbourhood is already mixed-use. Within a 5-10 minute walk: beer store, convenience store, hair salon, gas station, vet clinic, doctors office, optometrists, restaurants, fitness centre, and much more.

7.  Streetscape.  There is none.  The view from the street is a parking garage.  The development turns its back on the community and does not integrate with existing streetscape or complement the park across the street.  This is an urban design issue.

Is there a solution?

I think so. Let’s avoid going to the OMB. In my opinion, we can do better with some compromise from both sides….

* How about 21-24 smaller medium density units?

* How about the one-story school building retrofitted as apartments, with medium density townhouses all around?

* How about live-work studios or loft apartments in the school building?

* How about senior’s flats in the school building and smaller retirement townhouse blocks?

* How about removing the parking garage from the front of the building and making a streetscape entrance?

* Other ideas?

As with all issues, I am interested in hearing what others are thinking? Can we do better on this site? Share you ideas…