Martin Collier for Guelph
Bold Ideas • Working Together
The previous Council's imprudent 2015 decision to widen Speedvale without bike lanes and add an underpass hit another staff road block last night (Dec 17, 2018). My deputation proposed (for the second time) that a "barrier free" safety zone be piloted as soon as possible -- and not to wait until 2022 when the new Speedvale bridge is finally constructed. When new Ward 2 Councillor Rodrigo Goller asked staff whether my proposal could work, they said they'd have to take a look at it. I look forward to hearing their comprehensive response!
Another one of Guelph's last greenfields is set to be developed -- this time the Clair-Maltby area in the city's southeast end. In advance of council's special meeting on June 14, I wrote a brief letter requesting that members take a number of steps to ensure that the new secondary plan is comprehensively analyzed.
Due to my work planning the Transport Futures Intercity Travel Conference, I could not make a Speedvale deputation at the Guelph Committee of the Whole meeting on November 6, 2017. Instead, I submitted a letter outlining the need to consider all options for Speedvale -- on and below the road.
Speedvale Avenue came up for debate again on October 2, 2017 -- this time in relation to the underpass which Guelph staff rejected based on environmental and access rationale. My deputation brought the focus back to making the road itself safer by creating a "barrier free" zone somewhat similar to a safe school zone. I subsequently submitted the concept as a letter to the editor which was printed in the October 12 issue of the Guelph Mercury Tribune.
Despite my deputation calling for sober second thought, the City approved the unnecessary Wilson Street Parkade on July 17, 2017. I submitted this letter to the editor based on my deputation.
After the City of Guelph issued a biased press release on March 21, 2017, pertaining to the closing of Niska Road, I contacted Guelph Today to interview me and others to get the other side of the story.
I submitted my Budget 2017 comments for consideration by Guelph Council on December 2. An edited version was printed in the Guelph MercuryTribune on December 6. Three councillors responded thanking me for my comments.
With the helpful input of my neighbours, I submitted comments to the Emma-Earl Bridge EA on November 15, 2016.
On July 20, 2016, I attended the Wilson Street Parking Lot EA and emailed my comments to staff and council. Since I never heard back from them, I submitted the same email as a letter to the Guelph MercuryTribune editor. An edited version was published on October 25. The same day I heard that the tenders were way over the city's $14 million budget. Not to be deterred, staff is hoping that parking lot builders will lower their quotes.
I joined 21 other delegations (ranging in age from 14 to 85) at Guelph Council's Niska Road debate on December 3, 2015. There were detailed, factual and emotional deputations imploring council to maintain or close the existing 1-lane Bailey Bridge to ensure car traffic does not increase and the environmentally sensitive area protected. I focussed my presentation mainly on transportation demand management (including the addition of stop signs or a bridge toll) and liability issues. In the end, Council didn't give a hoot and voted 9-4 in favour of replacing the existing bridge with a $5 million 2-lane bridge and reconstructed road. Strangely, Councillor Leanne Piper voted in favour of dismantling the Bailey Bridge and then made a successful motion for using it elsewhere in the City. Almost as strange, Mayor Cam Guthrie voted to dismantle the bridge but said that council valued the extensive input they received. How kind. (For more detailed information about my Niska take, click here).
On October 6 I made a deputation to Guelph's Governance Committee supporting staff's call for "highway toll" taxing powers from the province. Afterwards, the committee didn't ask any questions and no specific tolling discussion took place. However, they did unanimously endorse staff’s response -- despite Mayor Cam Guthrie weakly protesting the fact that each tax and fee wasn't voted on separately. I’m sure he had road pricing in mind based on his September 30 tweet: “I will never ever ever ever ever support road tolls on #Guelph roads. Ever. Period. Hope that's clear.” To which I responded: "Why not?"
Despite my PowerPoint deputation and many others calling for a Speedvale road diet pilot project, a majority of council chose staff's recommended Option 4 last night (July 20). Much to my chagrin, progressives lost all four motions so that literally paves the way for the most cycle/pedestrian unfriendly and costly street possible. Indeed, the road, when reconstructed, will be worse than it is today since it will be wider and up to 35 mature trees will be cut down. Council’s decision will impact Speedvale residents the most as car/truck speeds will increase (as will crashes), properties/driveways will shrink (as will values) and snow plows will create big windrows right up to their front doors. The good news is that the road diet pilot project petition continues to gain supporters -- now at 178 -- even after the 5pm deadline yesterday! If supporters tell the Mayor and council what they think of this 20th century decision, maybe we can get more visionary road designs in the future.
An online petition supporting a Speedvale Road Diet pilot project was posted at 3pm on July 16. By noon today (July 18), 115 people had signed it -- many included great comments. We'd like to get the number to 150 in time for the Guelph Council meeting on July 20. Please consider signing and sharing the petition. Thanks in advance!
Guelph Mercury reporter Joanne Shuttleworth posed several good questions in the third paragraph of a July 16 article. I answered them in the comment section -- and added a rhetorical question of my own -- for a total of 6 comments!
Knowing that majority of IDE Committee members would vote for staff's recommendation on July 7, I took a "hope over fear" tact with my deputation and quoted other experts going back a couple of days -- and a couple hundred years!
In response to the Guelph Tribune's July 2 coverage of the Mayor's polarizing Speedvale blog of June 29, my letter to the editor setting the record straight was subsequently published in the Tribune on July 7, 2015.
Speedvale Ave. redevelopment goes back to committee (Guelph Mercury, June 23, 2015). A sentence of my deputation to council supporting the 3-lane road design is quoted in this article. The journalist didn't include the important info about how much would be saved: between $3.55 million to $6.75 million less than the other four road design options currently proposed by staff.
Letter to the Editor (Guelph Mercury, June 11, 2015). Please click here to see closeup of the letter.
After a year of waiting, City staff finally issued a report on Speedvale Avenue reconstruction in May 2015 -- including cost comparisons and property expropriation. My deputation to the Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Committee can be read by clicking here (June 2, 2015).
Delegates want sidewalk on Woodlawn Road put back into capital budget (Guelph Mercury, Feb 26, 2015). I made a deputation regarding Guelph's 2015 capital budget but was incorrectly quoted as saying Widening roads leads to road dependence. I actually said that Guelph's population is projected to grow to about 170,000 by 2031 but that doesn't mean we have to keep spending more money to widen roads. Following this path leads to more staff and increased property taxes as well as more car dependence, loss of green space/farm land, aggregate extraction, bad air quality and climate change.