Guelph seeking to leverage social infrastructure funding to reclaim IMICO and advance affordable housing strategy

Guelph pursuing mixed-use development for 200 Beverley Street Inclusive of Affordable Housing 

Guelph, Ont., May 19, 2016–Guelph City Council supports the idea of a mixed-use commercial, residential and affordable housing development at 200 Beverley Street—the former International Malleable Iron Company (IMICo) property.

City Council has asked City staff to prepare the business terms for a mix of commercial, residential and affordable housing development and report back by the end of the year.

“Preparing the property for this kind of development aligns with Guelph’s affordable housing strategy by making good use of surplus real estate assets,” says Peter Cartwright, general manager of the City’s business development and enterprise department. “Also, with Provincial and Federal governments showing support for brownfield redevelopment, infrastructure renewal and affordable housing initiatives, we’re in a good position to take advantage of potential funding opportunities from other levels of government.”

At this point, the City is not approving a specific plan; it will prepare business terms and conditions with potential investors who have expressed an interest in developing the property.

The City is looking forward to working with the County of Wellington on this and other potential affordable housing initiatives.

Related Links

Environmental condition of 200 Beverley Street
Questions and answers about 200 Beverly Street
Site history and related reports
Benefits of brownfield redevelopment
For more information

Peter Cartwright, General Manager
Business Development and Enterprise
519-822-1260 extension 2820
peter.cartwright@guelph.ca

Q&A with GMHI CFO Sardana on District Energy from May 16, 2016

Full audio of the May 16, 2016 meeting on District Energy can be heard here.

The presentation provided to Council (GMHI Shareholder) can be viewed here.

http://guelph.ca/wp-content/uploads/special_council_agenda_051616.pdf 

Q&A

My questions for CFO Sardana were as follows.

1) What are the cornerstones of a successful DE system when implemented correctly? Continue reading

Future of Guelph’s failing district energy initiative could be in doubt

Courtesy: Guelph Today on May 17, 2016
There was no sugar coating it Monday night in the council chambers at Guelph City Hall: Guelph’s district energy initiative has been a huge failure thus far.

So much so that its future may be in doubt. Continue reading

Changes to Silurian Drive On-Street Parking

On May 3, 2016 a City Notice was sent to homes along Silurian Drive notifying residents of upcoming changes to on-street parking.  Specifically, the notice was in response to a resident concerned about the ability for emergency vehicles, buses and waste collection vehicles to access the street when vehicles are parked on both sides.  I investigated this for myself on Friday May 6th and followed up with staff for a more thorough explanation (See staff responses below). Continue reading

My Thoughts on the Guelph Energy Efficiency Retrofit Strategy (GEERS)

The GEERS program is an exciting and ambitious endeavor that I am in support of if implemented correctly. To protect the universal benefit to all in Guelph however, Council needs to ensure the administrative burdens of the program are in line with realistic revenue projections. In short, it must be revenue neutral or revenue positive for the city.

Construction worker installing solar panel on roof

Continue reading

My Thoughts on Updating the Community Energy Initiative

After reading a fair bit of commentary about Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc and it’s relationship with the CEI in recent weeks, I felt it necessary to clarify some of my positions and further explain my motion on Feb 22, 2016 calling for an independent investigative audit of large capital CEI projects.

As part of my commitment to transparency, I accept the fact that my support for the Community  Energy Intiative (CEI) and it’s ambitious environmental and economic goals must include a willingness to evaluate its progress.  To this point, I believe taking stock in the CEI’s strengths and weaknesses in a transparent manner is an integral process for our community to undertake. This type of critical evaluation safegaurds us from leaning solely on the vision of the CEI, and allows us to progress to the question: After almost 10 years, are we achieving our goals? Continue reading

York Road open house signals progress in east end

Courtesy: Guelph Today

February 22, 2016

On the surface it’s a rather mundane open house regarding environmental impacts to possible road widening, sidewalks and sewers along the York Road corridor.

But in the big picture Tuesday’s open house on the York Road Environmental Design Study is a publicly visible sign that potentially big changes are on their way to that area of town.

york-road

Continue reading

Councillors address key Ward 1 issues at Town Hall meeting

Courtesy: Guelph Today

Feb 11, 2016

It appears it might be time to throw in the towel on Loblaws bringing a grocery store to Guelph’s east side.

At a Ward 1 town hall meeting Wednesday night, councillors Bob Bell and Dan Gibson sounded like it might be a dead issue.

“I’ve given up on them,” Bell told a group of roughly 35 who gathered at the Italian Canadian Club to hear updates on key Ward 1 issues and engage in discussion with the councillors.

“If Loblaws was going to play ball, we’d love to have them. If not, we move on,” Gibson added. “They say they have intention and a timeline, but until Bob and I see a shovel in the ground we won’t believe them.”

Continue reading

Ward 1 Town Hall Meeting | Feb 10, 2016

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Is Guelph’s Sleeman Center Wasting it’s Potential

Courtesy Guelph Mercury | January 26, 2016
By James Campbell-Prager

Every year, London’s Budweiser Gardens opens its doors over 200 times to host everything from OHL hockey to the Royal Marine Band to tapings of auditions for “So You Think Can Dance.” Within the next few months Kingston’s K-Rock Centre will host the Frontenacs, a Star Trek tribute concert, and the band Death Cab for Cutie. Municipalities all over Southern Ontario enjoy the pleasures of these multi-purpose performance spaces, and the benefits are clear: not only does the city-as-landlord reap the financial rewards of ticket sales, but the city-as-society gains a communal centre, an indoor, well-furbished, well-equipped space in which citizens can come together not merely for sport, but for music, art, and spectacle – for, in other words, culture.

Every year Guelph’s Sleeman Centre opens its doors about 35 times for OHL games. The other 300-odd days are largely taken-up by private events such as hockey, skating, and sometimes hockey – give or take a Hillside Inside. I’m speaking hyperbolically, but the contrast between Budweiser and Sleeman could not be starker. The city operates the Sleeman Centre as though it were a village arena, an appalling waste of a facility that seats almost five thousand people. It was poor ticket-sales that forced the Centre’s original owners to pass it along to the city in 2005, yet the city has done nothing to diversify Sleeman’s event calendar in the decade since. Its revenue still comes from ice sports, and almost exclusively ice sports.

What would it take to change this? Guelph may not be as big or wealthy as, say, London, but if we cannot ape London’s size there’s no reason we cannot emulate its style. The big infrastructure is already in place – the Centre has four walls, a ceiling, and plenty of seats – what is lacking is the smaller infrastructure. The Centre needs plug-and-play architecture for visiting talent: a decent lighting rig, a proper sound-system, a technical set-up to stop an incoming performer from having to haul a small theatre with them just to play a gig. Acquiring this will require two things: money and political will.

Marty Williams, executive director of the Downtown Guelph Business Association, does not think that money would be too great a hurdle. An investment of $250,000, he says, could bring in “potentially millions of dollars in revenue.” Williams believes that the Budweiser Gardens is good example of a similar investment that made-good, for London is using the draw of the Gardens to fuel business in its downtown core.

It’s a view that Ward 1 Coun. Dan Gibson shares. “Look to Oshawa,” he says, where the General Motors Centre is creating a boom in hotels and shopping centres. Thousands come to the GMC for a show, but stay for the amenities Oshawa has to offer. While the redevelopment of Baker Street may currently hold the attention of council, Gibson believes that for a “fraction of the investment” council could spend on Baker Street, Guelph could make the Sleeman Centre “the iconic, downtown destination of our City.”

It’s reasonable point, and with an economic engine like that enriching the City of Guelph’s coffers, more expensive and extensive redevelopment (such as Baker Street or St. George’s Square) might become more fiscally palatable, not to mention sustainable. After all, there’s little point to rebuilding the downtown if nothing is going to draw people there.

The City of Guelph is very cagey as to whether or not the Sleeman Centre is solvent. I suspect that in good hockey years the Centre breaks-even while in bad years it hemorrhages money. A city asset does not have to be profitable, but it should have more stable finances than the capricious whims of the sporting gods.

I beg council to set aside dreams of a Baker Street Eden and focus on something achievable now: for a few hundred grand and a couple months work, Guelph too could be visited by Death Cab for Cutie. At the very least, this town deserves better than an over-sized arena that drains city coffers every time the Storm’s shots go wide of the net.

 

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