Royal City Park

The Royal City Park Material Management Plan went to the Community Development and Environmental Services committee this past Monday. One of the key recommendations in the plan is to remove and replace 52 high-risk trees in 2010. A full copy of the plan can be viewed at:

The loss of 52 trees will have a significant impact on the look and feel of  the park.   As a regular user of the park, I can attest to the emotional attachment that the community feels for the trees and the impact it will have on the park experience.

I also recognize that the city should have been investing heavily in the last 25 years on regular species renewal planting, tree pruning and better park management practices (ie. cutting with whipper-snippers).   This is true for our entire parks system, not just RCP.

However, “could have” and “should haves” will do us no good today.  It’s 2009 and it’s time to plan for the future of the park — now — even if we won’t benefit, our children will.


The recommended plan is a balanced approach, basically:
1. Remove the trees that are at risk.
2. Plant new trees immediately, large calliper native species.
3. Schedule succession plantings to increase tree cover over the next 5-10 years.
4. Improve maintenance practices to increase survival rates.

I agree with this plan.  I know that this will mean the park will look very different next year, and the year after and for this, I am sad.  But our children will thank us.  Here’s a good example — the naturalization efforts in Silvercreek Park (between McCrae and the Hanlon) are now reaping the benefits of a plan that was implemented 20 years ago.  In another 20 years, Royal City Park will be in better shape than it ever was — diversity of species, increased canopy and healthier trees.

Would love to hear thoughts from park users and community residents….


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.

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….


Clean & Green Our Neighbourhoods

On April 19th, consider spending a few hours in your neighbourhood or your favourite community park removing unsightly litter. You’d be surprised at the difference we can make in just a few hours when we all work together!

Saturday, April 19, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Anywhere within Guelph city limits including neighbourhood streets, parks and greenspaces. You choose the area you’d like to clean.

The clean up is open to everyone: individuals, teams, and neighbourhood and community groups are welcome!

Teams and locations must be registered by calling Karen at 519-822-1260 x 2679. Clean up kits will be provided, including safety vests for teams picking up litter along arterial routes.

After the clean up, volunteers are invited to celebrate with a free BBQ in St. George’s Square. There’ll be food, music and fun!

The Guelph Clean & Green Community Clean Up is sponsored by Guelph & Wellington Development Association, Guelph & District Home Builders Association, Guelph Downtown Business Association and the City of Guelph.

Essex & Waterloo Road Access

Dear Mayor Farbridge and City Council Members,

We are aware that a road has been proposed to be cut through the small park between Essex Street and Waterloo at the corner of Gordon Street in order to accommodate a large truck that occasionally uses the street. Apparently two large trees have already been removed to create a turnaround where Essex dead-ends at Gordon.

Guelph Urban Forest Friends is very concerned about the additional loss of trees that will occur as a result of this road. Park land and trees are precious resources that belong to all citizens of the city. We ask that a public consultation be held with respect to the proposed road and that well prior to commencement of work on the project, the alignment of the road be clearly delineated with signs and that all trees slated for removal be clearly marked with signs so that the people who use and value this park are aware of the proposal.

Thank you for your consideration.

Tara Treanor, Norah Chaloner & Judy Martin
on behalf of GUFF