About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gordon Opens Campaign Office with Tunes (and Speeches)

There were cupcakes with orange coloured icing, orange coloured punch, and, of course, oranges. So it must have been an NDP campaign event. 
James Gordon and staff officially opened their campaign office tonight offering a cozy atmosphere, light refreshments and some tunes in the old Alma Gallery space. Considering that Mayor Karen Farbridge used the space last fall in her successful re-election campaign bid, perhaps the Gordon crew are hoping the good karma will rub off. 
"It's new what we've got here," said Gordon kicking the night off in front of over 100 supporters and well-wishers, "It's democratic and it's a party."
Keeping that democratic spirit, Gordon introduced several key members of his campaign staff who then talked about their role in trying to colour Guelph orange on the electoral map this fall. Campaign manager Ravi Joshi said that he's going to do his part to make sure the Royal City elects an MPP that doesn't "bring Queen's Park to Guelph rather than send someone from Guelph to Queen's Park."
"James Gordon is a guy who can actually take our voice to Queen's Park and it's my job to amplify it," later added Communications Co-ordinator Erinn White. 
So far Gordon's off to a promising start. It was announced that to date, his campaign had raised $8,000 and there are already two more fundraisers scheduled to help carry him through to Election Day. Supporters were also encouraged to volunteer their time including helping out in the office and assisting the distribution of lawn signs.
Charlie Angus, NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay, was also on hand for the opening. Angus played some music, along with the candidate himself, and local favourite Tannis Slimmon. "Suddenly it's okay to for a musician to be an MP, and it's okay to bring music to politics," cheered Gordon before he broke into his first song of the night.
Check out a few pictures from the evening's festivities below.

Summer Editorial Series – The List

There’s nothing like a little time out of town to give you perspective and appreciation. Last weekend, I was in downtown Indianapolis for GenCon, a convention of gamers that’s the largest of its kind in North America. This was the weekend after that whole debt ceiling nonsense had been resolved and the same weekend that saw the United States lose its prestigious AAA credit rating, which it had possessed for nearly 95 years.
But on the streets of Indiana’s state capital, where a homeless individual or other needy person seemed to be taking up residence on every corner at the intersection of Washington and Capital, none of that mattered. Better still, none of that seemed to matter to the people handing out postcards outside the convention centre, advising people going in of the importance of living, and if necessary dying, by the word of The Bible. Perhaps they hadn’t heard that connections between Dungeons & Dragons and Satanism had been debunked decades ago.
In the back of my mind was the comfort that I has heading back to Canada; where people were smarter, where they were more caring, and where radical Christianity hasn’t gotten a stranglehold. When I woke up Monday, it was literally morning in Canada. And then I saw the front of the Toronto Sun. Handed down from on high, or wherever it is that their editorial board meets, were the three main focuses that they thought should make the top of Mayor Rob Ford’s to-do pile: licensing bikes, panhandling, and getting rid of surcharges for plastic bags.
Now, I can’t for the life of me understand the appeal of Mayor Ford; he has all the personality of Boss Tweed, but has the extreme misfortune of being a politician in the Information Age. (Guy can’t even flip the bird at cautionary citizen pointing out his law violating Blackberry use behind the wheel without making CP24.) Still, he won the election, he’s the mayor for three-and-a-half more years at least, but should these really be the three most important things he needs to get immediately?
Certainly, the Sun thinks so. After Monday’s cover story, they launched into a week-long series of covers demanding, practically ordering, that something be done about panhandlers. First of all, what’s the urgency? Second of all, can one get rid of the poor like they’re overstock cookies at a bake sale? Solving the problem of all the poor people on the street requires one of two solutions: social spending to help these people out with the programs and services they need (which I’m sure would tick Sun editors off) or two, rounding them up in debtors’ prison and poor houses like the social welfare state never came into effect in the first place.
What about licensing bikes? Were does that come from? Actually, I know where it’s coming from, the recent, well-publicized traffic incidents involving cyclists. Incidents, mind you, where the cyclist was usually at fault. That is regrettable, and while I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion that a bike should be licensed, should making it so really be in the Top 3 of Mayoral priorities in Canada’s biggest city. Besides the whole thing smacks of “Summer of the Shark” syndrome, something’s made the news a couple of times in quick succession, which means a clear and present danger is there and it needs to addressed. It’s the chicken and the egg problem of the modern media: Problem A is in the news because it’s an immediate threat, and it’s an immediate threat because it’s in the news.
Last, but certainly least, is the matter of paying a nickel for a plastic bag at the grocery store. Aside from sorting your recyclables and being mindful of much electricity you use, it’s literally the least you can for the environment. No Frills has been doing it for years, I wonder if Ford pushes through on this and the by-law is repealed, will Toronto take the grocery store chain to court? What am I talking about, it’s not like they’re Guelph.
But seriously, this is a matter of world-crumbling urgency? How can you fault a law that encourages people to be more environmentally conscious, while making them pay a premium for using something that harms us and the planet? Doesn’t the Sun know there’s a big floating pile of plastic in the Pacific the size of some larger U.S. states? What am I talking about? They’re too busy swearing under their breath trying to find pocket change for a plastic grocery bag.
Perhaps once the immediate problems of these three issues are resolved, Ford can get busy working on other issues. For instance, there are trees in Toronto with too many leaves. Doesn’t he know people are going to have to rake them up in another month? Also the TTC subway trains make too much noise, but we don’t want to pay more for quiet trains. Maybe you should be writing this down…

Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer Editorial Series – There’s a Bus for Everyone

A few months ago, the Guelph Mercury published a week long series about Guelph Transit; its past, present and future. And while the series was informative and interesting – especially the details of Guelph’s forward-thinking past so far as mass transit is concerned – it seemed that the series remained, at the core, one written by people who don’t take the bus regularly, and can’t speak with true insight on the problems with our transit system.
The examination-slash-retrospective came from the coming changes to Guelph Transit starting this fall. These changes include new and altered routes as well as peak time 15 minute scheduling. Combined with the move from St George’s Square to the inter-module transit terminal next spring, and the anticipation for the expansion of GO Transit trains to the Royal City, it would seem things are looking up for those in Guelph that either by choice or necessity, take the bus. The sad part is though that the new transit looks a lot like the old transit.
To wit, if you are on a Guelph bus right now, and it’s a weekday, then you may have noticed that you only had to wait 20 minutes for the next bus rather than 30. This is thanks to a grassroots effort by a number of citizens who spoke out against another year of transit cuts in the 2011 budget. As a result of the outcry, not only did city council maintain 20 minute service throughout the summer, but partial stat holiday service was restored too. You might have taken the bus to Canada Day festivities in Riverside Park, or enjoyed John Galt Day activities downtown.
Sadly though, in spite of a number of Guelph Transit drivers that perform their duties admirably and professionally, there are some on the job that still can’t get their heads around the idea that the bus is a commuter service and not Sunday Night vespers with grandpa and grandpa. To them, a trip on the bus is a leisurely drive with friends where you can chat the day away knowing that you will eventually reach your destination. That is if you leave on time. Boarding the bus from downtown, it’s like a game of Win, Lose or Draw: will your bus leave on time, or are you waiting five minutes later waiting for the driver to appear, or finish up a conversation with a colleague?
Again, to be clear, this is not a majority of Guelph Transit employees, but incidents like the ones stated above happen with unusual frequency. The first thing you learn in customer service is that people will remember times of bad service to a far greater degree than the instances of good service, no matter how frequent the latter occur. How many people have been turned off riding the local bus because they missed their transfer, or the bus drove past their stop because the driver was distracted? I’m sure the number is greater than you or I might think because people don’t usually tend to call in to the Transit office to let them know that they’re breaking up.
But it’s not just driver behaviour that confounds, and while one of the articles did compliment Guelph Transit drivers for their friendly attitude, it’s probably one of the reasons why so many people feel like it’s okay to have a conversation with them while the driver makes their rounds. Or that it’s okay to put their bag on the seat and leave no where for someone else to sit. Or that it’s okay to sit at the back in a seat with your feet up. So yeah, this isn’t your buddy’s car, this is public property, and in the winter it’s hard enough to get people on the bus without making them wonder if the only seat available will come with muddy foot prints.
I’ve said this before, taking the bus will never be as fast and convenient as taking your own personal car directly from your garage to the parking lot of you place or work, but it’s also not supposed to be. And because of this, and because its hard enough to convince people to get on the bus in the first place, every time someone has a uniquely terrible experience on the bus is another excuse given to them to tune in, drop out, and get their own ride.
Guelph has invested a lot in their new transit system, but how can we expect people to take advantage and get excited when we’re still acting like it’s 1999, back when there was no Sunday service and accessible buses were a pipe dream. I think I speak for all of us that take the bus regularly when I say we want an improved transit service, and we don’t want to let old world thinking get in the way.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guelph Sends Help to Goderich

It's been one of those tragic kind of weeks, but it's nice to know that when you're in trouble you can count on your neighbours to lend a hand.
Here's a press release from the city about assistance being given for tornado-ravaged Goderich.
GUELPH, ON, August 24, 2011 – At the Town of Goderich's request, the City of Guelph will send two trucks with wood chippers and seven employees with expertise in forestry and roads to Goderich to help the town rebuild in the aftermath of Sunday's tornado.
Murray Cameron, General Manager, Parks Maintenance and Development says he expects City staff will be on the road by 3 p.m. today for the cleanup effort.
City of Guelph staff will help clean up debris and remove downed trees on side streets before moving onto arterial roads.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Layton's Letter to Canadians

As you may have heard, Jack Layton penned a letter to his fellow countrymen and women shortly before his death. The text of that letter was sent around in an e-mail earlier this afternoon by Guelph MPP candidate James Gordon.
A letter to Canadians from the Honourable Jack Layton
August 20, 2011
Toronto, Ontario
Dear Friends,
Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.
Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.
I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.
I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.
A few additional thoughts:
To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.
To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.
To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.
To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.
To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.
And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
All my very best,
Jack Layton
Additionally, our local MP Frank Valeriote has a condolence book available for residents to sign in his constituency office on Cork Street. The book will then be given to Layton's family. 

Vigil for Layton

There will be a candlelight vigil for Jack Layton tonight in St George's Square at 9 pm.
There's a Facebook page for the event here.

Jack Layton: In Remembrance

NDP, and Official Opposition Leader Jack Layton died this morning at the age of 61 in the midst of fighting his second bout with cancer. The news broke as I was wrapping up on CFRU's Beyond the Ballot Box show, and admittedly it ended our discussion about the upcoming provincial election on a rather dour note. That's not a knock, but a note about the impact and how the news landed.
In other words it was surprising. The man was a lion, and in the last election he campaigned hard and led his party to a well-earned victory despite being a cancer survivor, and walking the trail with a cane after having hip surgery. How could Layton be fell by something as common as death? But still, Layton dies peacefully in his home this morning. 
It's hard to know what to write here, especially since a lot has already been said when last month Layton took a leave of absence to battle cancer once more. But I did like what interem Liberal leader Bob Rae had to say this morning: "It's a loss for the country because he was a political guy who believed strongly in politics and who had a lot of resilience and a lot of guts."
Very true. You may not have agreed with the NDP platform or with Layton politically, but you had to admit that he had passion and that he was a persuasive campaigner. Interviewing Layton when he came her in 2008 to kick off Tom King's campaign was one of the first big political interviews I had done. I had the opportunity to interview him one other time, and heard him speak in person on numerous other occasions and it was hard not to get a feeling of man possessed with great idealism and conviction. And it took a while, but he made that translate from the party faithful and turned it into an Orange Revolution last May. The pity is that he won't be able to see what fruit will be harvest from all those years in the field. 
As a political dynamo on the national stage, Jack Layton's presence will sorely be missed in the days and years ahead.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Logo for Guelph Transit, But...

It was with interesting timing that I got this press release today. The content of the release is about the unveiling of the new logo for Guelph Transit and the introduction of a new hybrid vehicle to the fleet. Both good things, assuredly, but while Transit focuses on the aesthetics, it keeps missing the key factor in running a transit operation: picking up people up on time and delivering them to where they need to go.
To wit, I was waiting for the perimeter bus at the southwest corner of Woodlawn and Imperial last night when the bus just drove past the stop, continuing on Woodlawn and not turning onto Imperial. When I phoned Transit, they got in touch with the bus driver, and after five minutes of waiting on hold, I was told that the bus had to turn into the right lane to allow emergency vehicles to pass and couldn't get back into the left lane in time to make the turn. 
But here's the thing, I didn't hear any sirens, and I didn't see any flashing lights. Basically there was nothing observable, to me anyway, that said there were emergency vehicles anywhere in the vicinity at that exact moment. So were they lying? I don't know. All I know is what I was told and what I observed, which was the bus driving past, not even slowing down, and having to wait a half an hour for the next bus. It could be an honest mistake, and human failings happen all the time, but something about this situation was hinky to me. And then they roll out this the next morning. Alas. 
Here's the release:
GUELPH, ON, August 17, 2011 – Mayor Farbridge and Executive Director of Operations and Transit Services, Derek McCaughan unveiled Guelph Transit’s new logo on a hybrid vehicle at St. George’s Square today.
“This is an exciting time for Guelph Transit, with new and improved routes, better service levels, and a new transit terminal all on the horizon. The new logo reflects this new chapter for our local transit system, a chapter that will see Guelph Transit attract more riders while using resources more efficiently.” said Mayor Karen Farbridge.
Guelph Transit’s new identity reflects the values of a dynamic transit system. The tagline “On Your Way” is designed to convey the concept of moving forward. This is further reinforced with a stylized road with two continuous curves. The choice of the two curved lines represents a road that is travelled and captures the importance of the partnership between transit and the community working together.
“You will start to see the new logo on our entire transit fleet in the coming weeks,” promised Derek McCaughan.
“The logo was designed to align with our vision of transit being the most viable option to get you on your way around Guelph,” said Michael Anders, General Manager, Community Connectivity and Transit. “We asked residents, riders and our transit operators to select the new logo from three alternatives and this iteration struck a chord with the majority of respondents.” More than 500 surveys for the new logo were completed at the Public Works Week open house, Stone Road Mall, Guelph Farmer’s Market and St. George’s Square.
The hybrid vehicle on which the new logo appears does not consume any fuel when stopped at a traffic light, as it switches to electric mode. It meets the strict Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV II) and Advanced Technology - Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) standards. The City’s other hybrid vehicle is used by by-law officers and a third ‘green’ vehicle – powered by methane gas from the City’s Wastewater treatment plant - is used by Wastewater.
The City was the first municipality in Ontario to be recognized for sustainable transit fleet management and was one of only two cities in Ontario to receive an E3 Fleet Silver rating for sustainable fleet management.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Editorial Series – The Jack’s Creek Covered Bridge

The news last week that Jack Layton was taking some time off to fight another bout of cancer cams as shocking to a lot of politicos cross-country. This man is a lion. He defeated the strain of pancreatic cancer he was diagnosed with in February, had hip surgery in March, and then got out on the campaign trail in April, leading his party to its biggest victory ever in May. You know the old marine motto about doing more before 6 am… Well Jack Layton may not be a marine, but by any standard, that is a pretty eventful spring.
Now, I’m not a doctor, but anecdotally-speaking some of Layton’s recent public appearances have not painted the picture of a man who’s got a full health bar, to use video game parlance. Of course the stress of a major illness and a cross-country Federal campaign doesn’t do much for one’s stress levels, but all-in-all Layton’s physical struggles seems to have not damped even slightly the man’s vigour and commitment to leading his party to heights never before thought possible. At least until now that is.
Now it’s not all bad news. Layton intends to be back in time for the recommencement of Parliament in mid-September. In the meantime, Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmelhas was Layton’s personal selection for interim leader. She’s a rookie MP and part of the NDP’s “Orange Revolution” during May’s Federal Election, and on the face of things, politically, that makes a lot of sense. But the selection of Turmelhas, no matter how temporary, is odd because she leap-frogged over deputy leaders Thomas Mulcair and Libby Davies, as well as party stalwart Paul Dewar. And all things being equal, the NDP hasn’t had a lot of luck when one of their freshmen class is thrust into the spotlight.
And make no mistake, leadership matters. Could the NDP have made the gains they have without Layton at the helm? Possibly, but not probably. Layton’s miracle with the NDP is that he was able to play on even-keel with the two traditional main party leaders, and in recent years, even best them in national debates. He wasn’t whiny, he wasn’t resentful, and he came across as completely forthright, confident and ready to serve. Cogito ergo sum. Despite his small caucus he believed he was a national leader, therefore he was a national leader.
By comparison, think of the former leader of the Ontario wing of the NDP, Howard Hampton. I remember exactly two things that Hampton did in the 2003 Provincial campaign: 1) he tried nailing Jell-O to a wall, and 2) he had several huge dollar sign sacs on a flat bed truck be driven down a Toronto street as a visual aid during a speech. I can’t remember what either of those things were supposed to symbolize, but I remember that Hampton did them, and along with then-Premier Ernie Eves’ “reptilian kitten eater” comment, they probably painted Dalton McGuinty as the sanest choice for Queen’s Park.
Sadly appearances matter, and in the case of Jack Layton the appearance was of a man working hard to get your vote. Since his first election as party leader in 2004, Layton has led the NDP to posting a bigger share of the popular vote, even if their total number of seats didn’t increase; his predecessor Alexa McDonough didn’t post better than 11.05 per cent in the 1997 election. It’s why commentators were hesitant to call Layton’s ascension to Official Opposition leader an overnight success. It was a victory eight years in the making, and if the intention was to form an NDP government then they’re one more move shy of their goals.
But if Layton’s health continues to be an issue, then a question of more permanent leadership will have to be addressed, and like of all the major Federal parties, no clear successor is obvious. And the NDP is painted in a tight corner too. While the tenor of Quebecers and their new found allegiance to the NDP may not be fly-by-night, they’ll want to see progress on what the Orange can do for them. At the same time though, none of the new 59 NDP MPs from Quebec are probably leadership ready, though do the residents of “La belle province” have expectations that way? I doubt it.
Either way, Layton will be a tough act to follow in Ottawa. Not that we want anyone to follow him yet. He’s worked too long and hard to get that seat directly across from the Prime Minister, and I have a feeling that even Stephen Harper is relishing a real challenge in the Commons. Get well soon, Jack.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Province Should Be In Legal Fight, Court

This news is a couple of days old, but in the tradition of completeness, here's the up-to-date, latest scoop about the legal battle between the City of Guelph and the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit.
Here's the city press release:
GUELPH, ON, August 10, 2011 – The Superior Court of Justice found that the Provincial Ministry of Health and Long Term Care should be a party to the court proceedings involving the City of Guelph, the Board of Health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and the Counties of Wellington and Dufferin.
“Until now, the Province has not formally intervened in these legal proceedings,” says City Solicitor, Donna Jaques. “The City would certainly welcome the Province’s participation.”
Yesterday the City of Guelph asked the court to extend an existing injunction preventing the Board of Health from incurring further costs related to the acquisition or construction of capital facilities in Guelph to include the Board’s plans for a new facility in Orangeville. The court refused stating that the City would not suffer any irreparable harm between now and the court date set for September 12 when the City will be seeking an order to continue the injunction until trial.
The City of Guelph continues to believe the Board of Health does not have the authority to proceed with a capital project nor incur debt in the City’s name without the City’s consent or consultation with those who would be responsible for paying the bill—Guelph taxpayers.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Breaking: Carden Street Reopening Tomorrow

Breaking new this morning that will surely please everyone that's talked, yelled, e-mailed, blasted Led Zeppelin at or sent snarky visual aids to City Hall about the ongoing (and going) construction on Carden Street: It'll be open as of tomorrow evening.
Read the city's press release below:
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 restaurants."
When Guelph’s Market Square, rink, water feature and pavilion are completed in December, Carden Street will accommodate two-way traffic and parking.
"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 at guelph.ca/construction.
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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Editorial Series – Parsing the Slate

Last Monday, the Guelph Progressive Conservative Riding Association had their nomination meeting and selected local businessman Greg Schirk as their candidate for this Fall’s Provincial Election. With that belated selection, the slate of four main party candidates was complete for the riding of Guelph, which means the election season is unofficially underway, at least until the writ is dropped at the end of summer.
So with about a month to spare till the campaign begins in earnest, lets take a look at the names we’ll be seeing on the ballot, their strengths and weaknesses, and maybe what the political landscape, provincially-speaking, is going to look like on October 6th.
Liz Sandals – Liberal
Incumbent Candidate
2007 Election: Won by 20,346 votes; 40.92 per cent
Sandals is a quality candidate: stalwart, loyal and a background of committed public service to the community she represents. On the other hand, there’s not a lot of love out there for her boss, Premier Dalton McGuinty. A recent opinion poll put PC leader Tim Hudak up 11 percentage points on McGuinty, with people citing issues like the HST and hydro prices as reasons for backing the Official Opposition, but since they literally rebelled against the HST in BC, how bad could we hate it here? Still, Sandals may be the nice, safe choice. She works hard, she does her job, and the only press she makes has to do with funding announcements and facility openings. Plus, if the comments in the blogosphere are to be believed, a lot of people in the city are on her side with the whole Health Unit drama. Maybe that’s enough for a hat trick.
Greg Schirk – Progressive Conservative
2007 Election: PC candidate Bob Senechal received 12,180 votes; 24.49 per cent
Schirk is an accomplished entrepreneur and a life-long Guelph resident, and in this business they call that cache. But in all seriousness, Schirk is going to be tough competition for Sandals, especially if the poll numbers continue to hold up in Hudak’s favour. But ay, there’s the rub. Who’s preoccupied with politics in the middle of a heat wave? Well, except you and me, of course. Still, Sandals should not be underestimated, and neither should the people of Guelph and their affinity for our Liberal representatives. In her last election, the people and the press were junk piling on Brenda Chamberlain for things like voting against same sex marriage. Yet, she still won her final election in 2006 by a healthy margin, and against a very attractive Conservative candidate. Sometimes, the odds go out the window.
Steve Dyck – Green Party of Ontario
2007 Election: Green candidate Ben Polley received 9,750 votes; 19.61 per cent
On paper, Dyck has got it going on. He’s a local businessman (he’s President of Guelph Solar Mechanical Inc., a solar heating solutions company), he’s a trained mediator, and he knows how to socialize (he’s the inventor of Green Drinks, a regular Green Party social). The man has definitely got his Green credentials down, but the question is if Dyck will be able to capitalize on Polley’s gains in 2007? That’s a tough one if you consider the results of the recent Federal election. Like Polley, Mike Nagy ran before and was able to capitalize on previous gains. In 2011, John Lawson wasn’t able to keep pace, and perhaps lost ground to the resurgent Liberal. Could Steve Dyck be looking at a similar fate in his own 2011 race?
James Gordon – New Democratic Party
2007 Election: NDP candidate Karan Mann-Bowers received 6,880 votes; 13.84 per cent
While it seems unlikely that an Orange Revolution will sweep Ontario, the ascension of Andrea Horwath to the leadership of the party means good news for the NDP, and the same can be said of Gordon’s nomination locally. Advantage one: name cache. People know the name James Gordon, and if they don’t like his politics, they might surely appreciate his unique brand of folk music. Advantage two: Gordon is no fly by night politico. He knows the issues and has been engaged in local politics for some time. In short, he’s accomplished. The problem? The NDP don’t have a lot of success with local celebrities, but maybe this time it’ll be different.
Stay tuned, because it’s countdown to Election Day. Well, again. Election Day 2! “The Wrath of Hudak.” “The Search for Dalton.” “The Voyage Horwath.” Whatever you want to call it. We’ll see you in September with more election news, and see you next week with more editorializing.