It turns out Baker Street is just the beginning. Adding to the recent talk about re-orienting the north end of Downtown Guelph, is the news below that city staff has released a draft of the new Downtown Streetscape Manual and Built Form Standards, which will come before the Planning, Building, Engineering and Environment Committee a week from Monday on April 7. Although no decisions will be made at that meeting, staff will be offering potential directions for the next phase of downtown redevelopment to go including ideas about transportation, and aesthetics with particular emphasis on St. George's Square.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Coming perilously close to being taken out with the trash, came word late Thursday afternoon that the City of Guelph was seeking conciliation from the province as contract negotiations with the employees of Guelph Tranist, represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189, appear to have come to an impasse. The ATU 1189 have been working for almost nine months now without a contract, but after looking online I can't find a comment from the union as to what the outstanding issues might be on their part. As for the city, it seems pretty certain what their issues are.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Justin Trudeau may be the face of the party, but it seems that Guelph MP Frank Valeriote is doing all the heavy-lifting. Now, along with deputy whip and co-chair of the policy caucus, Valeriote will head up the Liberal Party's criticism on Veteran's Affairs in the Commons. Valeriote's new position in the Liberal caucus was announced Monday.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Tonight is the first televised Toronto mayoral debate, and the first one to feature all five of the main candidates who, as of a couple of weeks ago, had officially announced their candidacy for Toronto's top job. Olivia Chow, Rob Ford, David Soknacki, Karen Stintz, and John Tory are considered the so-called establishment candidates, meaning that they stand the best chance of winning, but there are also 39 other people up for the job with their names currently registered on the ballot. Who are these people that make up the so-called "fringe" slate of mayoral candidates? They may not have the clout, the fundraising power, or media reach of your Chows, Fords, Soknackis, Stintzes or Torys, but that doesn't mean that they don't have anything interesting to say. (And it's worth nothing that both Robyn Doolittle and The Grid have written on the subject.) Let's take a look at some of the people who find themselves cast on the political fringe.
Monday, March 24, 2014
The election year started out so excitedly with a flurry of activity, numerous candidates across several categories in just the first few weeks of the nominations being open, but since January 15 only 2 new candidates have filed their papers. What are we to make of this? Probably nothing. Looking back, as of April 14 in 2010 only 8 candidates had filed their papers, so with now 17 registered candidates on the ballot, the election year so far is already over 50 per cent more contentious. Number 17 joined the race last week, and number 18 might be warming up in the bullpen.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
If Rob Ford has enjoyed any success, it's framing the idea that he represents "taxpayers," a nondescript group of people of work hard for their money and don't want their share of taxes paid going to the benefit of those who pay nothing into the system. In the U.S., this has been digested down to the phrase, "Makers and Takers," but Ford Nation and associated constituencies do it better by distilling it down to one word, "Taxpayer."
This vision narrows the complexities of governing on any level to utterly simplistic terms: taxes are fees for service, and we should pay the absolute minimum to get the services we want and just the services we want. That means garbage collection, hydro and water services, police, emergency responders, and clean and easy to navigate roads. Public transit, the arts, cultural events, environmental initiatives, and sustainable planning are luxuries, investments desired by the leftie elites who want to use the blood, sweat and tears of the "Taxpayer" as seed money.
Here's the thing, we're all "Taxpayers." You may not own a house, but you probably pay to use public transit, and city facilities. You probably also pay into CPP, EI and income tax. So are we not all "Taxpayers?" To push the metaphor, are we not all investors in the business enterprise called the places where we live. And as with all businesses there are big investors and there are small investors. Some departments make more money, and other departments need more money. There's a give and take, but the critical difference is that in business, you're in business to make money for investors. The city you live in though is in the business of making everyone's life better. And emphasize that word everyone.
Friday, March 21, 2014
It's always a conundrum, does our government do enough to engage its citizens and encourage them to get involved with policy and city matters? The conundrum is that any effort to engage never seems quite good enough, despite media releases, social media, websites, and ads for local papers and radio, some news seems to always fall through the cracks. If you feel that's the case more than normal, then it behooves you to take the Open Government survey that City Hall is floating. It's pretty comprehensive and only takes about 15-20 minutes (maybe a bit longer if watch all the accompanying videos). In any event, it is an election year so the results may yield some compelling ideas and fodder for the next council to mull over.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
I guess the Tri-Cities (sorry, I meant Canada’s Innovation Supercluster consortium) has gotten a taste for GO trains and likes it. Either that, or Premier Kathleen Wynne is looking to secure votes in this area for "Schrödinger's Election" (since the provincial election is both happening and not happening). But then again, maybe it's a case of both, a win-win if you will. Regardless, full-day GO Train service will be coming to the Kitchener-Guelph corridor in 2016, and the funding (what ever it is) will be covered with the full extent of the service extension in the upcoming provincial budget.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
In one of those surprise/not-surprising announcements yesterday afternoon, Jim Flaherty resigned as the federal finance minister. Citing ongoing health issues, and a desire to make bigger bank in the private sector, Flaherty will stand as MP for Whitby-Oshawa until the 2015 election. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is expected to segue into the finance portfolio in an announcement later today, but Flaherty will cast a long shadow as the government looks to enter a black phase in the budget and re-election mode next year.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
As the debate about the Wilson Street farmhouse rages on (and on), one house in Guelph isn't getting off the hook with the wrecking ball so easily. The house at 24 Downey Street in the south end of the city will be demolished sometime next week as per a city council decision on the subject late last year. The land that the house sits on is city owned and will likely be used at sometime point in the near future for an interchange for the Hanlon Expressway.
Friday, March 14, 2014
When this popped up last night on The Daily Show it seemed so bizarre that it had to be made up, but if you go to U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell's YouTube page, there it is. The above video is either an example of media savvy in extremis, or a complete and utter lack of self-awareness, it's a very thin line. What Jon Stewart and The Daily Show writers picked up on was how ripe the video is for parody, and they have challenged viewers to go #McConnelling by putting the video to a piece of music of their choice. As Stewart predicted, the video seems to work with just about everything as evidenced by the other videos posted below.
Monday, March 10, 2014
One might think that taking the weekend off to cover the Toronto ComiCon for Nerd Bastards would mean that one would not have to deal with political matters for a couple of days. If only. Nope there will little hints that political matters were always on the periphery all weekend, from protests downtown to jokes by celebrities at the expense of a certain Toronto political figure.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
There must be a spring election in the air. Or not. The local NDP have announced their second annual Noodle Supper, a fundrasier for local provincial NDP candidate James Gordon. Guelph NDP had a similar event last year at this time, so its not an indication at all that the NDP are looking to make their move election-wise in the next couple of weeks, but I will add that if you're looking for an indication about a trip to the polls in the immediate future, watching the moves of your local NDP candidate closely is a pretty good way to see which way the wind is about to blow.
Details about the Noodle Supper and pertinent links are below:
Friday, March 7, 2014
Guelph is a little island of red in a sea of blue, politically-speaking, which might be why the local Conservative riding association has decided to do some outreach. Coming up later his month, is the annual Sir John A. Macdonald Dinner, named after the country's first, and first Conservative, prime minister. Should you decide to pay and join other local Conservatives for dinner, you will also break bread with three Members of Parliament from neighbouring ridings. Full details about the dinner, and who's coming to dinner, is below.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Although the scandals in Ottawa continue to compound, it's worth noting that the scandal that literally kicked off the Federal government's first majority term in office is still very unresolved. The 2011 robocall controversy does still occasionally swim in and out of the media consciousness, but despite a singular arrest, the case is far from closed, and a great many questions remain unanswered. One of those truth seekers though is Michael Keefer, an emeritus professor at the University of Guelph. He's doing a talk in Guelph on March 13 outlining his case and what he's uncovered so far.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
It was the summer of 2009. The weather, for the most part, was pleasant and warm, but not too hot; everyone was hate-watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at the multiplex; and a small group of protesters gathered in the south end of Guelph to protest the development of a new business park. They made an impression, and even won a stay from the courts when the city wanted them removed. They were eventually order to vacate the future site of the Hanlon Creek Business Park, but the point was made.
Several months later, as the Olympic Torch made it's way across Canada to Vancouver, it came through Downtown Guelph. A small group of protesters were there too, making a case that the expense of the Winter Games could best be applied elsewhere, but as these things go, a kerfuffle along the parade route resulted in one of the protesters accidentally tripping a torch-bearer. Considering the time and place, the message got lost amongst the patriotism-based outrage; Olympic critiques are a tough enough sell without it seeming like you ploughed over a fine, upstanding young person in order to make your point.
Why do I bring this up, because those events were right before the last municipal election, and it really seemed like the last great outburst of civic action in our city. Sure, there's been protests and demonstrations since - the January 2010 prorogation protest comes to mind, as do demonstrations to raise the minimum wage, or against the oil sands - but nothing that's felt uniquely Guelph, nothing that's re-certified Guelph's politically rowdy reputation as a Mecca for the far left curmudgeons and the disenfranchised. There are people everywhere who aren't fond of genetically modified foods, or Monsanto, or Line 9, but the most brazen thing associated with Guelph in the last four years was a U of G professor's son who photobombed a carefully choreographed Stephen Harper event at the Board of trade in Vancouver.