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Posts Tagged ‘Hanlon Creek Business Park’

The following letter, published in the Guelph Mercury on June 19, contains sentiments that are definitely worth repeating. The author is one ‘David Graham’, though apparently not our good friend, fellow blogger and certified train nut David Graham.

Despite all the spin on the City of Guelph website, the business park we are going to get is clearly far less than what was originally envisaged.

If you don’t believe us, take a look at the 1996 South Guelph Secondary Plan.

Although the document contains a lot of interesting information, pay particular attention to 4.19.2.6 (scanned pages 16 and 17) where they discuss plans for the Corporate Business Parks on either side of the Hanlon Expressway.

Land West (and East) of the Hanlon Expressway which is designated “Corporate Business Park” has a high level of visibility from the Hanlon Expressway and close to the 401.

By virtue of its visual prominence, excellent access, proximity to Highway 401, and distinct natural setting, development of this area should occur in manner which establishes a park or campus like setting with extensive landscaping and a high standard of urban design.

Architectural detail, building massing, landscaping, and site design shall collectively result in establishing an attractive entrance or gateway feature for the City of Guelph in this location. Design and building control shall also be used to maintain senstitivity to nearby residential or natural areas. In this regard the City will prepare specific urban design guidelines to provide direction with respect to deisgn principles.

Land designated as “Corporate Business Park” shall be generally characterized by office and administrative facilities type development displaying appropriate design standards and sensitivity to natural settings and adjacent uses. The visual attractiveness and consistent gateway image is of prime importance. Pure manufacturing and retail uses shall not be permitted.

The bottom line is that plans can change a lot over the years especially in situations where economic and financial concerns are allowed to take precedence over protecting the environment and, also, in this case Guelph’s groundwater recharge area in the Hanlon Creek Watershed.

Take a look at the business park on the east side of the Hanlon Expressway next time you head down that way. Can you say “Warehousing”? Expect the Hanlon Creek Business Park to look very similar.

So much for the Gateway to Guelph!

View the South Guelph Secondary Plan

Business Park Violates Rules Of Good Planning
David Graham
Guelph Mercury June 19 2010

Sadly, the City of Guelph continues with its development of the Hanlon Creek Business Park, the result of an unjust political process, allowing for the destruction of vital lands.

The whole spectacle is of little surprise though, as the city has been engaged in a morally declining path for many years. Long ago the city exceeded the boundaries of what can be considered sustainable. Every year the loss of land to the ever-expanding frontier further results in a loss to the ecological integrity of our region. The development of the business park is the final straw in these destructive policies. How can we stand to see this site paved over? These lands provide habitat for a plethora of species and are the site of provincially significant wetlands. This illustrates what wanton degradation of our landscape the city’s development plans support.

The loss of this land also represents a loss to the social fabric of our region. The local landscape, including rivers, soils, water, plants, and animals, contributes much to our sense of place. If there no longer exists significant geographic features beyond the infrastructure of the downtown core (which represents a fraction of the greater sprawling city), Guelph will further become indistinguishable from any other suburban city North America-wide. How can we cultivate a commitment in our children to our environment if we’ve left nothing of it?

The development of the park can be seen all the more as a travesty when considering how much underutilized land there exists for development within the current city limits. Higher density development, infill development, and the adaptive re-use of existing buildings would result in a more efficient utilization of our land resources. This is achievable if the city of Guelph would only impart a little creativity into their policy making.

The basic principles of smart growth, which include a commitment to biodiversity and green infrastructure, shall not be met under the current park development plans. While the official plan makes allowances for protected areas on the proposed site, ecological systems don’t acknowledge arbitrary boundaries and the inevitable fragmentation will render these sensitive lands void of any benefits.

The park plan is not the result of a democratic process, managed as an open and inclusive exercise of democratic governance. We must break from the established public paradigm and consult people from disparate backgrounds and positions, not just elected officials and city-hired professionals. Citizens deserved greater say.

David Graham, Guelph

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Hanlon Creek Site Entrance (Photo: Bob Grodon)

Following up on Friday’s press conference decrying the $5 million SLAPP suit initiated by the  City of Guelph and Belmont Equity against five individuals who occupied the Hanlon Creek lands last summer, the self-styled Defenders of the Hanlon Creek Watershed are hosting a free public meeting on April 29 at Ed. Video, 40 Baker St.

Participants in last summer’s action, including some of the defendents in the SLAPP suit, will be discussing what happened, why it was significant and most importantly what to do next.

According to a press release sent out by The Defenders of Hanl0n Creek Watershed:

Recent news coverage has shown that once again that the City of Guelph is trying to evade responsibility for protecting an environmentally sensitive area by applying to the Ministry of Natural Resources for an exemption “to harm Jefferson Salamanders and to damage potential their habitat.

This follows what happened last summer, when the Superior Court awarded the land occupiers an injunction for defending the public interest, and forced the City to hold off on development of the Hanlon Creek Business Park.

Since then the City and Belmont Equity have pursued a SLAPP suit against five individuals for up to $5 million.  This is an unrealistic and absurd amount of money, the real intent being to intimidate people into silence and inaction.

The Defenders of the Hanlon Creek are hoping people will come out to share ideas and develop an action plan to continue the fight against the development of the envioronmentally sensitive area.

For more information, visit www.hcbpoccupation.wordpress.com and www.hanloncreek5.woprdpress.com.

Thursday April 29, 7  p.m.

Ed Video, 40 Baker St., downtown Guelph

Wheelchair Accessible

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Salamandergate – Jim Bogart, Hanlon Creek And City Hall Spin
Jan Andrea Hall, Royal City Rag

Jan Andrea Hall

It turns out that Dr. Jim Bogart, Emeritus Professor at the University of Guelph may not be quite the Salamander expert we were led to believe.

Check out this affidavit from biologist Dean Fitzgerald used during the Ontario Municipal Board process for case PL071044, in particular #25.

View the affidavit (2.88 mb)

It seems that Dr. Bogart is an expert in identifying salamanders in the laboratory from genetic material NOT in terms of habitat used by salamanders during breeding migration.

Which raises the issue of whether he really should be commenting in the Guelph Mercury on the likelihood of finding a Jefferson Salamander at Hanlon Creek.

The rest of the affidavit document is worth reading because it reminds us that confirming the presence of the salamander may only be as good as the techniques used to find them. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It all depends how you look, how hard you look and who is doing the looking.

Jefferson salamander (photo: John White)

As to whether the City of Guelph is really worried about finding a Jefferson Salamander, or whether they have already found one, is not clear.

More likely they are just trying to surreptitiously protect themselves in case they do find one.

It is interesting that Jim Bogart should be commenting in the Guelph Mercury on the likelihood of finding a Jefferson Salamander on the same day that the city’s application for permission to harm Jefferson Salamanders and damage their habitat was uncovered by activists.

It also seems that the Guelph Mercury got it wrong in their April 22 editorial on the subject, Species Decision Backed By Law.

Turns out that the city have changed their position with respect to the salamander.

When they first found a Jefferson Salamander at Hanlon Creek in May 2009, the City of Guelph released this press release.

“This discovery is the result of our rigorous, ongoing monitoring program in this area. The City remains committed to protecting the habitat of endangered species, and we will work closely with the Ministry of Natural Resources,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge.

Ouch!

Which brings me to the April 23 column from Scott Tracey in the Mercury, City Looking The Other Way When Rules Get In The Way.

Glad to see that someone is still earning their crust the right way at the Merc!

Jan Andrea Hall
janhall@royalcityrag.ca

For more on this and other community issues, tune into Royal City Rag, Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm. Speaking Truth To Power.

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Weird Numbers Part 3: Minimizing Environmental Impact or Buffers, Who Needs Them?
Bob Gordon, Freelance Journalist/Royal City Rag Contributor

Bob Gordon

In the summer of 2005 the Grand River Conservation Area (GRCA) issued a document entitled, “Environmental Impact Study Guidelines and Submission Standards for Wetlands”

Not surprisingly the document contained an Appendix detailing “Buffer and Setback Guidelines”.

It defined buffers in this way: “ Buffers are planned and managed strips of naturally vegetated land located between wetlands and development sites, which are intended to protect the wetland and sustain its identified ecological functions.”

It defines setbacks as follows:

“Setback refers to the physical separation (measured in metres) between the wetland and the proposed development site or structure. Impacts generally expected of development can often be avoided or mitigated if a very broad area of land is maintained in a naturally vegetated state or as green space.”

The document further states that, “The scientific literature (Woodward and Rock 1995, Castelle et al. 1994) dealing with buffer functions consistently recommends a minimum buffer width of 15-30 metres on slopes less than 12 percent with good ground cover to protect wetlands under most circumstances.”

However, in a qualifying paragraph that merits quotation in full the document notes that minimum buffers may be suitable for protection of water quality but are rarely adequate for the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat:

“Buffers in excess of 30 metres may be warranted to protect environmentally sensitive bogs and fens or wetlands harbouring locally, regionally, or provincially significant species. Based on current knowledge, the literature increasingly indicates that larger buffer requirements tend to be associated with the habitat requirements of wildlife, especially those species inhabiting marshes (Environment Canada 2004). Therefore, minimum buffer widths based on water quality parametres alone are unlikely to be sufficient for wildlife protection.”

The bottom line is that a minimum buffer of 30 metres of naturally vegetated land is essential.

Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

The naturally vegetated land buffer surrounding the Provincially Significant Wetland Known as the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex in the parlance of the Ministry of Natural Resources is a mere 5 metres.

The municipal administration justifies this less than minimal buffer by arguing that it is only storm water management facilities and service roads that are located within 30 metres of the Provincially Significant Wetland Known as the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex.

Surprise, surprise but the GRCA’s “Environmental Impact Study Guidelines and Submission Standards for Wetlands” document specifically warns against locating stormwater management facilities within buffers for four very significant reasons:

  1. The location of such facilities entirely within the buffer zone should be discouraged because discharge from these facilities is often directed toward wetlands and associated watercourses.
  2. The need for outlet structures, cooling trenches, and spreader berms also requires grading, an activity that should not take place within a natural buffer zone.
  3. Stormwater management facilities may also accumulate toxins that are harmful to wetland dependent wildlife.
  4. Though sometimes designed to function like a wetland, these facilities do not provide suitable habitat for wildlife, and as such should remain physically separated as much as possible from natural wetlands.

The conclusion is simple, no matter what the city and its hired guns (consultants) tell us there are four good reasons that five is not better than thirty and that even thirty is frequently inadequate.

It is painful and disturbing to consider the inevitable chain of events.

So what happens if the city constructs the Hanlon Creek Business Park with inadequate buffers?

  1. The Provincially Significant Wetland Known as the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex deteriorates in quality over the next decades.
  2. In 20 years when the next civic administration requires more industrial land they expand into and over the wetlands that have lost their significance and value because the plans made today destroyed them.
  3. They ask us to thank them because they are not sprawling into the surrounding country side just making use of some toxic cess pools that have no environmental value anyway.

So much for the City of Guelph’s insistence that they have carefully considered the environmental  impact of the development, and planned accordingly.

Bob Gordon
bob34g@gmail.com

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City of Guelph Asks For Permission To Actively Harm The Jefferson Salamander. Whatever Next?
Jan Andrea Hall, Royal City Rag

Jan Andrea Hall

Its interesting to note that on the same day that the The City of Guelph consultant, and noted expert on the Jefferson Salamander, Dr. Jim Bogart, Emeritus Professor at the University of Guelph is quoted in the Guelph Mercury suggesting that he doesn’t expect to find the Jefferson Salamander in the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex this Spring, activists should uncover information that the city and their development partner Belmont Equity Partners, have applied to the Ministry of Natural Resources for permission to harm Jefferson Salamanders and damage their habitat… even if they confirm that the endangered species is present at the environmentally sensitve site.

The following is taken from the Environmental Bill of Rights website:

“The City of Guelph, Belmont Equity (HCBP) Holdings Ltd. and Guelph Land Holdings (the applicants) are applying for an agreement to mitigate impacts Jefferson Salamanders and their habitat for the purpose of developing the Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP), a new subdivision in the City of Guelph.

Jefferson salamander (photo: John White)

The Jefferson Salamander is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List, in Ontario Regulation 230/08 under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA), as a threatened species. Clause 9(1)(a) of the ESA provides that no person shall kill, harm, harass, capture or take a living member of a species that is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as an extirpated, endangered or threatened species. Clause 10(1)(a) of the ESA provides that no person shall damage or destroy the habitat of a species that is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as an endangered or threatened species. Protection for Jefferson Salamander habitat came into force in February 2010.

The subject lands are currently being surveyed for the presence of Jefferson Salamander. The survey began in March and will continue until the end of April. If Jefferson Salamanders are found, the City of Guelph, Belmont Equity (HCBP) Holdings Ltd. and Guelph Land Holdings are requesting an authorization through an agreement to harm Jefferson Salamanders and to damage potential habitat.”

The full details on the application can be found here.

Public comments on this application can be made now by sending an e-mail to esa.permits.agreements@ontario.ca.

The deadline for comments is May 10 2010.

It is important to include the EBR Registry Number 010-9560.

Those more comfortable using mail or telephone can use the following:

James Fitzpatrick
Species at Risk Team Advisor
Ministry of Natural Resources
Policy Division Species at Risk Branch
300 Water Street
Floor 4 Robinson Place South Tower
Peterborough Ontario
K9J 8M5
705-755-5409
705-755-1788

As much as I respect the credentials of Dr. Bogart, his role is limited to examining salamanders sent in by consulting firms scouring the site for evidence of the illusive amphibian.

As its not unusual for consultants to come up with findings desirable to whoever commissioned the work I’m not holding my breath on Dr. Bogart’s current opinion being contradicted.

View the proposed Hanlon Creek Salamander Monitoring Program for 2010

The City of Guelph asking for permission to actively harm a creature’s habitat. Whatever next?

Please remember that this is “the greenest Mayor and Council” we’ve ever had.

One wonders what they’d be doing if they weren’t green?

Jan Andrea Hall
janhall@royalcityrag.ca

For more on this and other community issues, tune into Royal City Rag, Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm. Speaking Truth To Power.

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We started off Royal City Rag on April 10 with a strong first set and a ‘river’ theme featuring music by former Beach Boy, the sadly departed Dennis Wilson from the exquisite 1977 album, Pacific Ocean Blue, James Gordon from his album of river songs commissioned by the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, The Song The River Sings, Brian Eno’s “By The River” and the gorgeous guitar instrumental masterpiece “Eramosa”, by Guelph’s Mike Mucci  from the Under The Tulip Tree album. 

Later in the first hour we featured Gillian Welch’s partner, Dave Rawlings’ outstanding new album “A Friend Is A Friend” as well as Old Man Luedecke who will be bringing his banjo back to Guelph on April 15 for a show at The E-Bar with Jessy Bell Smith and Pat LePoidevin.

We also played an excerpt from “Earth Hour”, a hypnotic ambient composition from composer Frank Horvat‘s new album A Little Dark Music.  The album features four different pieces that take their inspiration from real world themes such as sustainability, poverty and 9/11.

Frank will be in Guelph on Saturday April 17 , as part of his Green Keys tour,  for a performance at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre at 8 p.m.

In honour of Earth Hour, the recital will take place in a completely dark performance space. Admission is free.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Frank’s new CD will go to the World Wildlife Fund. The performance is being sponsored by Bullfrog Power, Braden Homes, and the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre.

Listen to Hour 1:

In the second hour, we welcomed into the studio Matts Soltys and Matt Lowell-Pelletier, two of the defendants in the $5 million lawsuit being brought by The City of Guelph and their development partner, Belmont Equity Partners, in relation to the peaceful occupation of the environmentally sensitive Hanlon Creek for 17 days last summer.

The City of Guelph and Belmont Equity Partners statement of claim for damages, initially filed for $5 million, was reduced to $150,000 then increased to $5 million on February 24 2010. At that time they also removed two of the named individuals in the lawsuit. 

Cartoon by Khalil Bendib

According to a city press release released at the time, the lawsuit was intended to ‘recover the actual cost of damages, including damages to the site, resulting from protestor activities, and costs relating to the loss of monitoring equipment’.

Although the plaintiffs would likely claim otherwise, this is really a good old SLAPP suit, a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) that according to Wikipedia, is “intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.”

View a copy of the amended lawsuit from February 24 2010

View the statement of defence from March 24 2010

According to Environmental Defence, SLAPPs are a growing threat to meaningful participation in issues of public interest in Ontario and significantly affect the ability of communities to protest development in environmentally sensitive areas.

Although SLAPP suits are not uncommon in Ontario, 50 per cent of American states, and most recently Quebec have passed anti-SLAPP legislation.

Environmental Defence is working with partners Ecojustice and Canadian Environmental Law Association to finally put a stop to SLAPPs in Ontario.

As well as pushing for new legislation, their campaign has encouraged more than 70 community groups to write to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty requesting an end to SLAPP suits.

They have also produced a petition to stop SLAPPs that you can sign HERE.

Interestingly, Environmental Defence have managed to get approximately 70 municipalities to pass a resolution asking the Province to pass anti-SLAPP legislation. Unfortunately green Guelph has not yet joined that group!

Please note: The panel discussion regarding SLAPP suits featuring Rebecca McNeil from Environmental defence discussed during the show, and scheduled for April 12, has been postponed to a later date.

Listen to Hour 2:

Music:
Dennis Wilson, River Song from Pacific Ocean Blue
James Gordon, The Song The River Sings from The Song The River Sings
Brian Eno, By The River from Before And After Science
Mike Mucci, Eramosa from Under The Tulip Tree
Gillian Welch, Winter’s Come And Gone from Hell Among The Yearlings
Dave Rawlings Machine, I Hear Them All from A Friend Of A Friend
Old Man Luedecke, The Rear Guard from My Hands Are On Fire And Other Love Songs
Colin Linden, In The Deep Field from Six Strings North Of The Border
Eliza Gilkyson, Unsustainable from Beautiful World
Mo Kauffey, Know You Rider from Dig It
Frank Horvat, Earth Hour from A Little Dark Music
Neil Young, Mother Earth from Farm Aid 2008
Neil Young, Natural Beauty from Harvest Moon

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Hanlon Creek Site Entrance (Photo: Bob Grodon)

We’ll be focusing on SLAPP suits on CFRU 93.3fm’s Royal City Rag on April 10

In the second hour, we’ll be welcoming into the studio some of the defendants in the $5 million lawsuit being brought by The City of Guelph and their development partner, Belmont Equity Partners, in relation to the peaceful occupation of the environmentally sensitive Hanlon Creek for 17 days last summer.

A mutual injunction hearing took place in front of Judge Gray on August 10 2009 between the Corporation of the City of Guelph and Belmont Equity (HCBP) Holdings Ltd., and (at that time) seven named individuals, members of Land is More Important than Sprawl (LIMITS), and John Doe, Jane Doe and other persons unknown.

According to Royal City Rag Correspondent Bob Gordon who attended the injunction hearing:

Judge Gray’s decision resulted in both injunctions being granted: The occupants were ordered to leave the site by noon, Friday, August 14, 2009 while the city was enjoined to cease all work on Culvert A on Tributary A of the Hanlon Creek until the Minister of Natural Resources had considered the matter.

The judgement granted the occupants standing as “public interest litigants” and recognized the primacy of the ‘precautionary principle’, “which, simply put, contemplates that where there is a threat of a significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such a threat.” At the same time it recognized that this decision rests with the Minister of Natural Resources not the courts.

View Judge Gray’s injunction judgement from August 13 2009

The Minister of Natural Resources duly approved the city to continue work at the site while monitoring for the presence of the Jefferson Salamander was instituted.

The City of Guelph and Belmont Equity Partners statement of claim for damages, initially filed for $5 million, was reduced to $150,000 then increased to $5 million on February 24 2010. At that time they also removed two of the named individuals in the lawsuit. 

According to a city press release released at the time, the lawsuit was intended to ‘recover the actual cost of damages, including damages to the site, resulting from protestor activities, and costs relating to the loss of monitoring equipment’.

View a copy of the amended lawsuit from February 24 2010

View the statement of defence from March 24 2010

Although the plaintiffs would likely claim otherwise, this is really a good old SLAPP suit, a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) that according to Wikipedia, is “intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.”

According to Environmental Defence, SLAPPs are a growing threat to meaningful participation in issues of public interest in Ontario and significantly affect the ability of communities to protest development in environmentally sensitive areas.

Although SLAPP suits are not uncommon in Ontario, 50 per cent of American States, and most recently Quebec have passed anti-SLAPP legislation.

Environmental Defence is working with partners Ecojustice and Canadian Environmental Law Association to finally put a stop to SLAPPs in Ontario.

As well as pushing for new legislation, their campaign has encouraged more than 70 community groups to write to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty requesting an end to SLAPP suits.

They have also produced a petition to stop SLAPPs that you can sign HERE.

Interestingly, Environmental Defence have managed to get approximately 70 municipalities to pass a resolution asking the Province to pass anti-SLAPP legislation. Unfortunately green Guelph has not yet joined that group!

As usual there will be a great mix of cool music and event listings. A great way to start your Saturday. You won’t want to miss it!

Royal City Rag, Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm, Guelph’s Campus-Community Radio Station. 

Remember if you don’t catch Royal City Rag live on CFRU93.3fm, you can pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or here, on the blog, the next day.

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Cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Please note that this proposed panel discussion regarding SLAPP suits featuring Rebecca McNeil from Environmental Defence planned for April 12 has had to be postponed. It is hoped to reschedule this event for a later date.

Following up on the recent Royal City Rag interview with Rebecca McNeil from Environmental Defence, we are pleased to welcome her to Guelph to discuss why SLAPP Suits should be outlawed in Ontario.

SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) lawsuits are intended “to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.” (Wikipedia)

According to Environmental Defence, SLAPPs are a growing threat to meaningful participation in issues of public interest in Ontario and significantly affect the ability of communities to protest development in environmentally sensitive areas.

Although SLAPP suits are not uncommon in Ontario, 50 per cent of American States, and most recently Quebec have passed anti-SLAPP legislation.

Environmental Defence is working with partners Ecojustice and Canadian Environmental Law Association to finally put a stop to SLAPPs in Ontario.

As well as pushing for new legislation,  their campaign has encouraged more than 70 community groups to write to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty requesting an end to SLAPP suits. They have also produced a petition to stop SLAPPs that you can sign HERE.

Interestingly, Environmental Defence have managed to get approximately 70 municipalities to pass a resolution asking the Province to pass anti-SLAPP legislation. Unfortunately Guelph, despite the oft claimed green credentials,  has not yet joined that group!

Joining Rebecca for a panel discussion will be some of the defendants in a $5 million lawsuit being brought by The City of Guelph City of Guelph and their development partner, Belmont Equity Partners in relation to the proposed business park development within the Hanlon Creek Watershed Complex.

SLAPPed: How SLAPP suits prevent environmental protection and preserve business as usual – POSTPONED
Monday April 12, 7-9 p.m.
Norfolk United Church, 75 Norfolk st., corner of Norfolk & Cork
Free, Wheelchair accessible

Featured Speakers:
Rebecca McNeil, Project Coordinator with Environmental Defence
Defendants of SLAPP suits from Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo, who work to protect the Hanlon Creek and Waterloo Moraine
Hosted by Jan Hall of Royal City Rag, CFRU 93.fm
 
SLAPP is an acronym for Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. They are heavy-handed threats of financial and legal action, usually used by developers to prevent opposition to their projects. They have been used throughout North America primarily against environmental activists and First Nations land defenders.This free public event will explain what SLAPP suits are and how they are used as a tool by developers to preserve business as usual. Also featured will be several community activists who show the human face behind SLAPP suits. Environmental Defence, along with Ecojustice and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, is working on a campaign to end SLAPP suits with a province-wide ban against their use. Anti-SLAPP measures have been adopted by the provinces of British Columbia, Quebec and more than half the United States.

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We started off CFRU 93.3fm’s Royal City Rag on March 6 with a beautiful set featuring Peter Gabriel’s version of David Bowie’s Heroes from his sublime album of re-interpretations Scratch My Back, UK based Alessi’s Ark with Hands In The Sink and Po’Girl with the title track from their album Deer In the Night.

Po’Girl are in Guelph on March 9 for a show at Dublin St United Church as part of their “No Shame” tour, highlighting the serious problem of child sexual abuse.

Po’Girl And The No Shame Tour To Combat Child Abuse
featuring Po’Girl (with special guest JT Nero) and Noise and the Ghost
When: March 9 at 7.30 p.m.
Where: Dublin St United Church, 68 Suffolk St W, Guelph
Tickets: $16/$20

Hanlon Creek Site Entrance (Photo: Bob Grodon)

We devoted most of the first hour to a lawsuit against the protestors who peacefully occupied the environmentally sensitive Hanlon Creek for 17 days last summer.

That the lawsuit in question is by the City of Guelph and their development partner, Belmont Equity Partners, and is for a whopping $5 million should be cause of concern for all Guelphites who believe in our democractic right to peaceful protest. That the lawsuit should occur in Guelph while we have a mayor who touts her environmental credentials at ever opportunity and a city council who have described themselves as the greenest in Guelph’s history should be cause for even more concern.

Although the plaintiffs claim that they are not seeking punitive damages it is clear from the $5 million figure that this is far more than just a desire to, quoting the city press release, ‘recover the actual cost of damages, including damages to the site, resulting from protestor activities, and costs relating to the loss of monitoring equipment’.

The plaintiffs would likely claim otherwise, but this is really just a good old SLAPP suit, a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) that according to Wikipedia, is “intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.”

Cartoon by Khalil Bendib

To learn more about SLAPP suits, we talked to Rebecca McNeil from Environmental Defence , an organisation dedicated to protecting the environment and human health.

According to Environmental Defence, SLAPPs are a growing threat to meaningful participation in issues of public interest in Ontario and significantly affect the ability of communities to protest development in environmentally sensitive areas.

Although SLAPP suits are not uncommon in Ontario, 50 per cent of American States, and most recently Quebec have passed anti-SLAPP legislation.

Environmental Defence is working with partners Ecojustice and Canadian Environmental Law Association to finally put a stop to SLAPPs in Ontario.

As well as pushing for new legislation,  their campaign has encouraged more than 70 community groups to write to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty requesting an end to SLAPP suits. They have also produced a petition to stop SLAPPs that you can sign HERE.

Interestingly, Environmental Defence have managed to get approximately 70 municipalities to pass a resolution asking the Province to pass anti-SLAPP legislation.

Sounds like its about time Guelph joined that group.

Contact your councillor and request that they ask the City of Guelph to withdraw the SLAPP suit against the Hanlon Creek protestors. Ask them to table a resolution supporting an end to SLAPPs in Ontario. Tell them that such anti-democratic bullying behaviour is unacceptable in Guelph. It will be an election issue.

Royal City Rag will not let this issue go until the City of Guelph do the right thing and drop this lawsuit.

Listen to Hour 1:

Mo Kauffey Bluesman

In the second hour, we changed our focus entirely and enjoyed some live music by Guelph-based musician Mo’Kauffey.

Mo’ Kauffey (Gary Wickizer) has been playing his country blues roots music for more than 30 years. Many influences have been blended to create his unique languid style; Greg Brown or Mark Knopfler are two that might come to mind. Mo’ loves to play a trusty old mid-30’s Gibson, that only cost him $25.

Playing over150 dates a year from coffeehouses to festivals, he is well known around the area but also further a field, especially his home state of Colorado.

Mo’ has released five independent CDs since 2000 with radio airplay across North America, through Europe, and as far away as Australia. His sixth album, “Dig It”  has just been released. You can  buy Dig It through Mo’s website www.mokauffey.com or his Facebook fanpage.

You can catch Mo’ on March 21 at Borealis Bar and Grille on Gordon St and on March 27 he will be playing the Boathouse in Kitchener with Duane Rutter and Mark McNeil. 3 writers, 3 players and 3 characters = one great show!

Listen to Hour 2:

Download Hour 2 (Right Click And Save)

Music:
Peter Gabriel, Heroes from Scratch My Back
Alessi’s Ark, Hands In The Sink from Communion  – The Compilation
Po’Girl, Deer In The Night from Deer In The Night
Dar Williams, What Do You Love More Than Love? from Green World
Keb’ Mo’,  Big Yellow Taxi from Big Wide Grin
Brooks Williams, Weeping Willow Blues from Blues And Ballads
Brooks Williams, Joyful from Joyful
Mo Kauffey, What’s So Funny About Peace Love And Understanding (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, Dig It (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, In The Snow (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, Scramble (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, Who’d A Thunk It (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, Cheshire Moon (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, What You Gonna Do? (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, Celebrate (Live In The Studio)

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Weird Numbers Part 1: Hanlon Creek Business Park Jobs
Bob Gordon, Freelance Journalist/Royal City Rag Contributor

Bob Gordon

The proposed development on the site of the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex is Guelph’s version of research in motion. Not because it has been wildly successful, developed quickly or proven innovative, but rather because everything is in motion.

No matter who you talk to at the city every answer varies with every source. And the same sources even have different answers if one compares their numbers today with their numbers yesterday.

During the summer of 2009, when defenders of the Wetland Complex were most vocal and the city was staggering from public relations blunder to public relations blunder the destruction of the Wetland Complex was deemed to be necessary because it offered between 12,000 and 15,000 jobs.

More recently, when those numbers were challenged, the city retreated to 10,000 jobs. That is the figure that was included in the city’s press release last week about the SLAPP suit they have leveled against all and sundry, including the ubiquitous Jane and John Doe.

While surprise, surprise folks but back in 2008 when the city put together its Powerpoint presentation entitled “Investing in Guelph’s Future” that figure was a mere 5,200 with full buildout in all developable lands. Strangely, as defense of the natural value of the wetlands grew the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex’s destruction became more and more necessary in the eyes of the city.

The absurdity of this ‘research in motion’ becomes even more evident if the figures are looked at in terms of jobs per hectare. When the figure of 5,200 was presented proudly by Peter Cartwright employment was predicted at 35 jobs per hectare. When the total jobs almost tripled to as much as 15,000 employment per acre ballooned to 101.

What’s up with that?

Ask Peter Cartwright, Mayor Karen Farbridge or your councillor to produce any document for any development in southern Ontario that uses an employment per hectare figure of more than 100.

Even the city’s backtracking and claiming 10,000 jobs means employment per hectare has almost doubled from 35 to 67.

So, which number is accurate?

When were you lying, when were you misinformed and when were you telling the truth… last week, last summer or two years ago?

Bob Gordon
bob34g@gmail.com 

Unhappy about what’s been going on in the city? Unhappy about the level of growth that Guelph is supposed to endure?

Make your voice heard. Engage your friends in conversation or write letters to the Editor of the Mercury and Tribune. This is democracy, folks!

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people” – Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

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Jan Andrea Hall

Karen Farbridge, Backstabbing And Her Bid For Re-election
Jan Andrea Hall, Royal City Rag

Since Mayor Karen Farbridge announced her bid for re-election this past Thursday, February 24, one or two of her supporters have publicly alluded to the fact that the Mayor has been “stabbed in the back” by erstwhile supporters during her current term.

They believe that, as many progressive Guelphites worked hard to get her re-elected in 2006, after a fairly dysfunctional term under Mayor Quarrie, we should not only be happy to have her back, but keep quiet and remain supportive, regardless of the decisions her council and administration choose to make.

Unfortunately not everyone can do that, and, for that reason, are shunted off into the “backstabbing” group of the disaffected.

I count myself in that category even though I am as progressive as they come.

As far as I’m concerned, Farbridge’s administration has been found wanting on all the ‘big decision items’ of the past three years… the upgrades to the Hanlon Expressway, the proposed Hanlon Creek Business Park and the Strategic Urban Forestry Master Plan (otherwise known as the urgent need for a much stronger protective by-law).

I call them the big decision items because they will have a huge effect on this city, for years to come. Progressive Guelphites choked over the previous council’s decision to support the Commercial Policy Review setting up four large shopping centre ‘nodes’ around the city. Yet, the Hanlon Expressway and Hanlon Creek Business Park decisions will have far more impact over the coming years.

Farbridge’s supporters may say that these are done deals; the Hanlon Expressway upgrades being ordained by the province through the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (colloquially known as the Ministry for Roads) and the Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP) by previous administrations.

But would it have hurt to question whether the right decisions were made or whether these proposed projects could have been improved upon, especially in the case of the HCBP, where the city is the primary developer?

Where was the leadership to resolve citizen environmental group concerns about Hanlon Creek?

Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

That Farbridge chose to remain silent at the Guelph Civic League convened public meeting in March about Hanlon Creek at Norfolk Street United Church suggests that she may not be cut out for high office in Guelph. Instead of offering a few words of welcome she instead chose to sit at the back with body language suggesting that she really wished she was somewhere else entirely.

The fact that council barely emitted a whimper with respect to the assumptions underlying the provincial growth plan Places To Grow, and the need for Guelph to grow from 105,000 to a whopping 165,000 people by 2031 raises questions about a serious deficit of leadership at City Hall.

The bullying tactics that have been employed to stifle opposition to the Hanlon Creek Business Park, including this week’s SLAPP suit, also raises questions about the direction the city is moving in. So much for community consultation.

We have now been waiting nineteen years for a new protective tree by-law. Farbridge talked about this as a priority in 2003 (more on this in a future commentary)yet we are still waiting. And in the meantime, we continue to lose our tree canopy.

Add to that, the fact that the City had a Transparency and Accountability Committee meet for two years to, amongst other things, discuss the important (but under the Municipal Act, currently discretionary) positions of Lobbyist Registrar, Auditor General, Ombudsmen and Integrity Commissioner only for the City’s Governance Committee to recommend against proceeding with these checks and balances until after the next election. This only raises further concerns about how truly accountable and transparent the current administration wants to be.

Is Mayor Farbridge the right Mayor for Guelph?

I went into the last municipal election in 2006 with high hopes that clearly haven’t been met. Farbridge is clearly strong on process (perhaps too strong?) but is she capable of taking the big decisions and making a stand.

I hope that if her re-election is successful she will turn back to her progressive roots and move in a truly sustainable direction. Enough of the spin and green-washing, please.

People need to consider what is best for Guelph for the next four years and beyond when they go to vote.

Mayor Farbridge may like the idea of being Guelph’s Hazel McCallion, but do we really have to look like Mississauga too?

Jan Andrea Hall
janhall@royalcityrag.ca

Royal City Rag will continue to focus on what is important for the common good as we move forward with the election. We will not shy from bringing forward issues. Expect many more commentaries on the record of the current council and hopes for the next council as we move towards the election.

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Frank Valeriote In Debate

It was our great pleasure to welcome Frank Valeriote, MP for Guelph, back to Royal City Rag on February 27.

During a wide ranging conversation in the first hour, we talked about the resumation of parliamentary activities in Ottawa on March 3 after Stephen Harper’s self-serving prorogation, the upcoming budget (to be tabled by the government on March 4) and Frank’s own committee work in the agriculture and food sectors.

Its also appropriate to mention that their will be another awareness event in Guelph on March 2 with respect to the inappropriate use of prorogation to stifle parliamentary debate. 

The Guelph chapters of the Council of Canadians and Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament and Guelph Participates are encouraging people to come out to Carden Street, in front of City Hall for the “Searchlight on Democracy Walk and Talk” at 7.00 p.m. for some short speeches, followed by a short candlelight procession to Norfolk St United Church for a discussion on how we can hold the government accountable for their actions and avoid such abuses in the future.

There was an excellent panel discussion on this issue on January 2. You can check out the audio from that event including Frank Valeriote’s speech here.

Searchlight on Democracy Walk and Talk
When: Tuesday, March 2 at 7.00 p.m.
Where: City Hall – Guelph (1 Carden St.) and then to Norfolk Street United Church for presentations and a group discussion

We also had a chance to discuss the burgeoning contorversy concerning Canada’s financial aid for earthquake stricken Haiti. It seems that the aid the government is providing may be coming out of funds already earmarked for Haiti prior to the earthquake and not new funding at all. This situation needs to be watched very closely.

The Canada Haiti Action Network are screening the documentary Aristide and the Endless Revolution at the Bookshelf Cinema on Saturday March 6 at 1.00 p.m. This is a free event. A discussion about the current situation in Haiti, including financial aid from the Government of Canada, will occur after the screening.

Aristide and The Endless Revolution
When: Saturday March 6 @ 1 p.m.
Where: The Bookshelf Cinema, Quebec St, Downtown Guelph
Admission: Free (donations gratefully accepted).

Frank Valeriote can be contacted via his Gueph office, 40 Cork Street East, Guelph, N1H 2W8, 519-837-8276, 519-837-8443  or by e-mail to Valeriote.F@parl.gc.ca. While in Ottawa he may also be reached at Room 713 Confederation Building, House of Commons, Ottawa, K1A 0A6, 613-996-4758, 613-996-9922 (fax).

Listen to Hour 1:

You can also follow the links here to check out Frank’s previous visits to Royal City Rag in April and June 2009. He’s a great interview.

We started the second hour of the show with a personal commentary regarding the upcoming municipal election scheduled for October 25Mayor Farbridge announced her bid for re-election this week. Other candidates for mayor and council are sure to follow in short order.

Royal City Rag will continue to follow the municipal scene closely, focusing on the community issues that we believe are important as we move towards the election. Expect to hear more commentaries on the record of the current council and our hopes for the next.

Listen to the Commentary:

Po'Girl

Later in the second hour we talked to Alli Russell from Po’Girl. Po’Girl are in Guelph on March 9 for a show at Dublin St United Church as part of their “No Shame” tour, highlighting the serious problem of child sexual abuse.

Russell is the survivor of ten years of sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather.  She wrote the song “No Shame” in 2006 after her stepfather was released from prison . You can find it on their critically acclaimed album, Deer in the Night.

Proceeds from the tour will support Little Warriors in Canada and the National Children’s Alliance in the USA. Alli Russell will also be running the Athens, Ohio marathon, on April 11 to support these groups.

Hailing originally from Canada, Po’Girl weave a blend of musical influences, sweetness, grit & soul into a fresh and original sound. Their latest release, 2009’s Deer in the Night still includes many of the trappings of the trademark Po’ Girl sound – the echoes of speakeasy jazz, the western lament, the accordion-strapped ghosts of European folk – but it’s all delivered with a soulful clarity and depth only hinted at on previous records.

Po’Girl And The No Shame Tour To Combat Child Abuse
featuring Po’Girl (with special guest JT Nero) and Noise and the Ghost
When: March 9 at 7.30 p.m.
Where: Dublin St United Church, 68 Suffolk St W, Guelph
Tickets: $16/$20

Listen to Hour 2:

Music:
Johnny Cash, Redemption Day from American Recordings VI, Ain’t No Grave
Roseanne Cash, I’m Moving On from The List
Tony Bennett, Rags To Riches from Mob Life
Michael Buble, A Song For You from It’s time
Janis Ian, The Great Divide from Folk Is The New Black
Po’Girl, Bloom from Deer In The Night
Po’Girl, No Shame from Deer In The Night

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Karen Farbridge, Guelph’s Iron Lady –  Re-election And Punitive SLAPP suits
Jan Andrea Hall, Royal City Rag

Jan Andrea Hall

Its interesting that Karen Farbridge, the current Mayor of Guelph, should decide to announce her bid for re-election on the same day that the City of Guelph legal department reaffirms its desire to seek damages from the individuals who occupied the Hanlon Creek Business Park last summer.

It seems that despite the efforts of the site occupants to peacefully protest the proposed development at the environmentally sensitive Hanlon Creek, the City of Guelph and their co-developer Belmont Equity are seeking up to $5 million in damages from the occupants.

One wonders at the timing of such a lawsuit? A coincidence or is this supposed to send a message to the business and development community that Farbridge is tough and that there will be no opposition of any kind to whatever they want to do in Guelph?

Its interesting that the City and Belmont Equity claim that they are not seeking punitive damages as part of the claim, yet use a $5 million dollar figure, which is outlandishly large if it is just to ‘recover the actual cost of damages, including damages to the site, resulting from protestor activities, and costs relating to the loss of monitoring equipment’.

They would likely claim otherwise, but it appears that this is a good old SLAPP suit.

To quote good old Wikipedia, “a SLAPP suit or a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.”

“The plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate. A SLAPP is often preceded by a legal threat.”

Charming.

Am I the only one that finds it embarassing that Mayor Farbridge, who I presume okayed this lawsuit, is the same Karen Farbridge who was co-ordinator of the Guelph Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) for over a decade and advocated for non-violent direct action and protest when it was required?

Perhaps we should all re-read Bob Gordon’s excellent Guelph Mercury article about Karen Farbridge’s time at OPIRG. Find it here.

It would seem that the real Karen Farbridge is now standing up.

Its going to be a very interesting municipal election campaign. Rest assured we’ll be following it all very closely.

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Bob Gordon

Natural Heritage Strategy – Why What Happens At Hanlon Creek Still Matters
Bob Gordon, Freelance Journalist/Royal City Rag Contributor

As we approach spring, the civic administration continues to offer reassurances that the proposed Hanlon Creek Business Park is environmentally safe, even cutting-edge, and a model of green development for other municipalities to follow. While doing so, and apparently without realizing it they also undermine their own case as fast as they make it.

If the proposed business park is ‘green’ someone needs to put a muzzle on hydrogeologist and City of Guelph water supply program manager Dave Belanger. On February 4, 2010 he admitted to the Lake Erie Source Protection Committee, “The Hanlon Creek Business Park may represent future potential significant threats [to water quality].”

Come on Dave, get with the program, the plan is ‘green’. Didn’t you mean to say that the proposed Hanlon Creek Business Park may represent significant improvements to water quality. And if that isn’t what you meant to say couldn’t you at least take one for the team and keep quiet. After all you can retire and move away before the shit hits the fan anyway.

Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

The Draft Natural Heritage Strategy recently workshopped to the public also raises concerns about developments in and around the Provincially Significant Wetlands in the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex.

Simply put, the draft Natural Heritage Strategy offer greater protection to Provincially Significant Wetlands than does the draft plan for the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex.

The city’s legalistic argument is that the draft plan of subdivision for the land in and around the Provincially Significant Wetlands in the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex has already been approved and that the proposed Natural Heritage Strategy is not applicable to it.

In a purely legal sense that claim is justified. It also entirely undermines the claim that the Hanlon Creek Business Plan is innovative or a model for other communities.

Implicitly, it is an argument that excuses the inadequacies of the protection for the land in and around the Provincially Significant Wetlands in the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex. It is an argument predicated on the claim that the Hanlon Creek Business Park draft plan of subdivision is an old plan and cannot possibly be held to current standards.

Overall, that’s two strikes against the proposed Hanlon Creek Business Park.

It may represent future significant threats to water quality according to the city’s own hydrogeologist and it offers less protection to the Hanlon Creek Wetland complex than do the draft Natural Heritage Policies.

Bob Gordon
bob34g@gmail.com 

Missed Bob Gordon’s other articles on the Draft Natural Heritage Strategy? Follow the links below to get caught up.

Part 1: The Devil Is In The Details And The Big Bits Too

Part 2: Conflict Of Interest Unmasked

Part 3: Will The York District Lands Be Guelph’s Next Developmental Debacle?

Written comments on the Draft Natural Heritage Strategy should be submitted to michelle.mercier@guelph.ca by February 24, 2010 .

Don’t forget to make your voice heard. City Council needs to know we care about how much and how well our natural green space is protected.

Download Draft Natural Heritage Strategy Phase 3 (pdf, 831 kb) 

Download Recommended Natural Heritage Systen Map Jan 2010 (pdf, 560 kb) 

For more on this and other community issues, tune into Royal City Rag, Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm.

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We devoted the whole of Royal City Rag on November 7 to environmental issues.

IMG_4250In the first hour we talked to Brenlee Robinson from The Ontario Urban Forest Council and Sean Fox, horticulturist at The Arboretum,  University of Guelph about the importance of Guelph’s urban forest.

Trees are increasingly regarded as beautiful and effective tonics to our polluted planet, with a long list of social, environmental and economic benefits.   Sadly, preserving trees or allocating adequate space for future planting is rarely considered in the development process.

The Ontario Urban Forest Council (OUFC) will be holding their annual conference in Guelph this year.  The conference takes place on Thursday, November 12 at the University of Guelph Arboretum. The theme of this year’s conference is   “Tree Preservation and the Planning Process –Moving Ahead”.  Speakers will include city planners, environmental planners, politicians, development consultants and educators who will bring their professional experience and municipal perspectives to share ideas.  The City of Guelph and some of its real planning issues will be showcased to stimulate discussion of how best to protect our urban forests.

View the conference flyer

Later in the first hour we aired a special commentary from mother, grandmother, citizen of Guelph and taxpayer Eileen LaBerge about the by invitation only sod-turning for the Hanlon Creek Business Park held by the City of Guelph. The commentary had to be cut short because of time constraints. We are including the whole commentary here.

Listen to Hour 1:

Listen to Eileen LaBerge’s Commentary:

In the second half of the show, Sally and Chris from Transition Guelph joined us to chat about Pat Murphy and Faith Morgan’s visit to Guelph on Monday November 9.

plancbklgPat Murphy is executive director of the Institute for Community Solutions at Yellow Springs, Ohio, a nonprofit organization in devoted to small community living, and is also the author of Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change. He lectures widely across North America on energy, Peak Oil, geopolitics and lifestyle solutions, and on community resilience and long-term sustainability. His main interest is on the techniques and strategies for a steady reduction in the per capita use of fossil fuels in the years to come. Pat has been involved in community much of his life and sees it as the context within which sustainability can be reached.

Murphy is also a co-writer and co-producer of the award-winning documentary, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.

Faith Morgan is the Director of The Power of Community, and also a co-writer.

An Evening with Pat Murphy and Faith Morgan takes place at St. Matthias Church, 171 Kortright Road West on Monday, November 9, beginning at 7 p.m. Musical guest Larry Nusbaum will open the evening.

Advance tickets are $10 waged and $5 student/senior/unwaged, available at Ground Floor Music, The Bookshelf, and The University of Guelph Landscape Architecture Building. Admission at the door is $15 and $7.

Music:
Lindisfarne, Think from Elvis Lives On The Moon
Platters, Trees from Magic Touch, Anthology
Pope High School, Marietta, Georgia, Trees from Songs From The Greyhound Greenhouse
James Gordon, How? from Youtube
Martyn Joseph, How did we end up here? from Deep Blue (Live version)
Bruce Cockburn, Beautiful Creatures from Life Short Call Now

And the song suggested by Chris we didn’t get time to play but with an inspiring video you really need to see…

Listen to Hour 2:

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IMG_4250We’re devoting the whole of Royal City Rag on November 7 to environmental issues.

In the first hour we will be talking about the importance of Guelph’s urban forest with Brenlee Robinson from The Ontario Urban Forest Council and Sean Fox, horticulturist at The Arboretum,  University of Guelph.

Trees are increasingly regarded as beautiful and effective tonics to our polluted planet, with a long list of social, environmental and economic benefits.   Sadly, preserving trees or allocating adequate space for future planting is rarely considered in the development process.

The Ontario Urban Forest Council (OUFC) will be holding their annual conference in Guelph this year.  The conference takes place on Thursday, November 12 at the University of Guelph Arboretum. The theme of this year’s conference is   “Tree Preservation and the Planning Process –Moving Ahead”.  Speakers will include city planners, environmental planners, politicians, development consultants and educators who will bring their professional experience and municipal perspectives to share ideas.  The City of Guelph and some of its real planning issues will be showcased to stimulate discussion of how best to protect our urban forests.

On Wednesday, November 11 from 7 to 9 p.m., the OUFC will be holding their AGM at the Shakespeare Arms near the Campus Estates Plaza.  Well respected urban forest professor, Dr Andy Kenney will give a short presentation entitled  “Preserving Trees and the Planning Process:  Covering Your Assets”.

View the conference flyer

Later in the first hour we will be airing a special commentary from mother, grandmother, citizen of Guelph and taxpayer Eileen Laberge about the by invitation only sod-turning for the Hanlon Creek Business Park held by the City of Guelph. Anti-democratic… autocratic… you won’t want to miss what Eileen has to say!

In the second half of the show, Sally and Chris from Transition Guelph will be joining us to chat about Pat Murphy and Faith Morgan’s visit to Guelph on Monday November 9.

plancbklgPat Murphy is executive director of the Institute for Community Solutions at Yellow Springs, Ohio, a nonprofit organization in devoted to small community living, and is also the author of Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change. He lectures widely across North America on energy, Peak Oil, geopolitics and lifestyle solutions, and on community resilience and long-term sustainability. His main interest is on the techniques and strategies for a steady reduction in the per capita use of fossil fuels in the years to come. Pat has been involved in community much of his life and sees it as the context within which sustainability can be reached.

Murphy is also a co-writer and co-producer of the award-winning documentary, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.

Faith Morgan is the Director of The Power of Community, and also a co-writer.

They will be in Hamilton to address city council and to present the 2009 Spirit of Red Hill Creek lecture, and they have graciously agreed to speak in several other local communities as part of their Southern Ontario visit.

An Evening with Pat Murphy and Faith Morgan takes place at St. Matthias Church, 171 Kortright Road West on Monday, November 9, beginning at 7 p.m. Musical guest Larry Nusbaum will open the evening.

Advance tickets are $10 waged and $5 student/senior/unwaged, available at Ground Floor Music, The Bookshelf, and The University of Guelph Landscape Architecture Building. Admission at the door is $15 and $7.

Royal City Rag, 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm in Guelph. Don’t miss it!

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Hanlon_Downstream Web

Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

This editorial from the Guelph Mercury really needs repeating and circulating widely. It really says it all. Bravo to them for pointing out how unnecessary this is.

There’s no need for sod-turning ceremony
Guelph Mercury, October 29, 2009

The City of Guelph is inviting a response it might not like through its decision to stage what it is terming a sod turning “to celebrate the start of construction for the Hanlon Creek Business Park on Thursday.”

Sod turnings are by their nature unnecessary affairs. They’re redundant and ceremonial acts of pageantry along the lines of ceremonial ribbon cuttings. And that’s when they’re politically benign or even universally regarded as positive things. This late afternoon event is being regarded as a controversial move. That’s no surprise to its organizers who have billed it as an “invitation only” affair – a unique designation for a something otherwise described as a cause for civic celebration.

The city and other supporters of the park have already made it abundantly clear that they need, want and eagerly anticipate this proposed development – even as it has met stiff and varied opposition. So, why a late fall affair to assert the same thing once more? Why is there a need to kick off construction that is at least months away from starting in earnest and which several opponents assert will be challenged before that really proceeds?

The city is awaiting word from the Ministry of Natural Resources on how it may proceed on the park – pending still unknown results of scientific work to try to determine whether land within the park is home to an endangered species. Shouldn’t there be clarity on that point before most intelligently and sensitively putting gold-plated shovels to the ground?

Likely, organizers want to demonstrate a confident and united front on this civic priority. That’s clear in the role call of anticipated participants, among them: Guelph’s mayor, its member of Parliament, the head of its chamber of commerce and representatives from the Grand River Conservation Authority, the University of Guelph and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

This event will be interpreted as such by project supporters and by many in the community as a show of force against contrary voices.

This a hot button development issue. Why push this now and in this way?

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It was another packed show on October 10, despite the fact that it was the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Dave Sills from the Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians and Royal City Rag’s own Bob Gordon joined us in the first hour to talk about the so-called “third way” approach to the development of the Hanlon Creek Business Park, a plan favoured by several prominent community groups and local activists.

After extensive research, they are proposing a number of “reasonable changes” to the current plan to ensure that environmental protection will be in place to protect the health of the Hanlon Creek and associated wetlands. They are also recommending that construction continue to be delayed until more is known about the habitat of species at risk in the project area and calling for increased investment in the reuse of existing buildings and the redevelopment of ‘brownfield’ sites.

It was a great interview and a must listen for those still questionning why people are calling for a rethink to the current plans for the project.

RebickwebIn the second hour, we discussed Judy Rebick’s upcoming visit to Guelph. 

Judy is coming to town on Wednesday October 14 to introduce the award-winning film Fierce Light and to do a ‘Guelph-launch’ of her latest book, “Transforming Power”. The event is co-hosted by Guelph Civic League, The Bookshelf and 10 Carden with guest Judy Rebick.

Fierce Light will be shown at 7.00 p.m. in the Bookshelf cinema followed by a reception for Transforming Power in the Green Room.

Judy Rebick sums up the theme presented in both the film and her book this way, “This convergence of the spiritual and political is a theme of my book and of Velcrow’s film and it is a powerful movement  emerging.”  

Velcrow Ripper, the director of Fierce Light is in high demand across Canada and is now in the U.S. leading workshops on spiritual activism.  He describes his approach this way: “Spiritual Activism is the coming together of spirituality, and activism. It is not about any form of dogma, it is simply activism that comes from the heart, not just the head, activism that is compassionate, positive, kind, fierce and transformative.  It focuses as much on what we are for, as on what we are against.  It is rooted in an understanding of interdependence, and works to end of the suffering of all beings, even our opponents.  Nothing could be more inspiring and more rewarding than being the change we want to see in the world, within and without.”

Rebick_TransPower[1]According to a review of Transforming Power by Anama Leadership: “Judy Rebick’s new book Transforming Power captures the new paradigm of leadership and social change – from top-down, power-over, externally-directed models to one where power is shared, collaboration is possible and power comes from the inside out. Judy aptly chose the subtitle “from the personal to the political”, laying out the case for social change leaders and organizations to focus not just on external power inequalities but also on the way we re-create and perpetuate these external dynamics in both our professional and personal relationships.” 

We completed the show with an interview with Hillside Festival’s Jessie O’Donnell regarding volunteer opportunities at Hillside Inside which takes place on Saturday February 6, 2010.

Music:
Cuff The Duke, The Words You Ignore from Way Down Here
Jayhawks, Waiting For The Sun from Music From The North Country
James Gordon, Kelvinator from Youtube/www.royalcityrag.ca
Eliza Gilkyson, Unsustainable from Emerald Street
Mike Mucci, Sunnyside Of Guelph from Sunnyside E.P.
Mary Gauthier, Thanksgiving from Between Daylight And Darkness
Levon Helm, I Wish I knew How It Would Feel To Be Free from Electric Dirt
Proclaimers, Three More Days from Notes And Rhymes
Jeff Beck, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers from Performing This Week… Live At Ronnie Scott’s
Jann Arden, All The Days from Free

Listen to the show:
Part 1

Part 2

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This letter from musician and community activist James Gordon in the Guelph Tribune deserves reprinting. Hopefully the city is serious about having consultants take a look at the environmental protection measures suggested by a prominent group of community activists and citizens organisations.

We’re All In This Together
James Gordon
Letter, Guelph Tribune

I was surprised and disappointed to see the headline “Mayor rejects overture by business park foes” (Tribune, Oct. 2).

The ‘overtures’ refer to the letter circulated about the Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP) by a group of concerned citizens. The letter was written with the intent of demonstrating support for the park’s goals, and to encourage improvements that would make it more effective. Several well-researched proposals were made which, if adopted by the city, would make us better stewards of the land in question.

Royal City Rag promo Sat 2As one of the writers, I find it very discouraging to be discounted as a ‘foe’ after all the carefully considered suggestions. We want this park to work just as much as the city does!

Until the city and the media realize that we’re all on the same side with this issue, that we all just want our city to be the best possible place to live with the lowest-impact developments available to us, then we will remain a divided community. The letter was written as an attempt to bridge that division, to demonstrate our faith that public input is still valued in this community and not considered an ‘attack.’

Your paper’s reporting of this letter and the city’s response could have highlighted the efforts of many of our citizens to find a positive resolution to the HCBP debate. Instead, your headline has only encouraged the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality that has had such a negative impact on the well-being of our community.

James Gordon, Guelph

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Hanlon Creek Business Park, Not The Only Development Threatening the Hanlon Creek Watershed
Bob Gordon, Freelance Journalist/Royal City Rag Contributor

Bob Gordon

Bob Gordon

“Consultants have been asked to review some proposed changes to the city’s contentious Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP) plans”, The Guelph Mercury reported on October 6.

Thank God the council had the sense to respond to the letter sent on behalf of several prominent environmental groups and community activists

That being said, it is important to realize that the HCBP is not the only issue currently at steak.  Two other developments in the Hanlon Creek watershed also face environmental opposition.

On Monday, council considered a proposal to construct condominiums and town homes at 146 Downey Road, which is located directly north of the HCBP.

The environmental concerns are succinctly outlined in a post on Ian Findlay’s Ward 2 blog:

The property includes a wedge of land identified by the City of Guelph as “lands with one of the following: locally significant wetlands, significant woodlots, natural corridor or linkage”, and is adjacent to a Provincially Significant Wetland, a wildlife corridor, and a major green space that connects to other green spaces in the City of Guelph. I am concerned that the documentation submitted by the developer does not address the critical issues involved in construction in such a sensitive and important environment.

It’s a painfully familiar litany; encroachments on green space that follows the letter of the law but would inevitably destroy it as a result.

A second project, located at 1291 Gordon Street South (the corner of Gordon and Edinburgh), that would also have a deleterious impact on the watershed was considered by the Planning Committee at its first meeting of the season.

Once again a 6-storey condominium project was proposed that would touch the boundary of the buffer zone. Inevitably, heavy equipment would have no choice but to travel in the buffer to complete construction.

Inevitably, tenants would find themselves using the buffer and meadowlands recreationally causing further destruction. Unbelievably, the required ‘wildlife corridor’ would then run between the buildings and their associated tennis courts.

That’s right; deer in tennis whites will be protected. I doubt they would be caught dead in such a situation. It is my understanding, however, that some species of wildlife cannot pass up on the chance for a good match.

bob34g@gmail.com

For more on this and other community issues, tune into Royal City Rag, Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm.

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We have another full show planned for October 10, even if it’s the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Dave Sills from the Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians and Royal City Rag’s own Bob Gordon will join us to talk about the so-called “third way” approach to the development of the Hanlon Creek Business Park, a plan favoured by several prominent community groups and local activists.

After extensive research, they are proposing a number of “reasonable changes” to the current plan to ensure that environmental protection will be in place to protect the health of the Hanlon Creek and associated wetlands. They are also recommending that construction continue to be delayed until more is known about the habitat of species at risk in the project area and calling for increased investment in the reuse of existing buildings and the redevelopment of ‘brownfield’ sites.

RebickwebIn the second hour we will be chatting to Annie O’Donoghue from the Guelph Civic League about Judy Rebick’s visit to Guelph next week.  Judy is coming to town on October 14 to introduce the award-winning film Fierce Light, When Spirit Meets Action, and to do a ‘Guelph-launch’ of her latest book, “Transforming Power”. Fierce Light will be shown at 7.00 p.m. in the Bookshelf cinema followed by a reception for Transforming Power in the Green Room.

Finally, we will be speaking to the Hillside Festival’s Jessie O’Donnell about volunteer opportunities at Hillside Inside taking place on Saturday February 6, 2010.

Hope you can join us.

Royal City Rag, Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm. Don’t miss it!

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It was another busy Royal City Rag on October 3.

In the first hour we talked to Virginia Gilham from Friends of the Guelph Public Library about their upcoming giant book sale taking place the weekend of October 24-25. You should also check out the wonderful live version of James Gordon’s Library Song, written especially for the Guelph Public Library’s 125th anniversary, a year or so ago. One of his best humorous political songs.

Later in the hour, Sally Wismer from Guelph Arts Council joined us on the phone to talk about upcoming arts events and the arts council’s new award for young artists.

In the second hour we hooked up with Ryder Ball, one of the singers taking part in Ken Whiteley’s Incredible One-Day Gospel Choir at Three Willows Church on October 4 at 7.30 p.m. Tickets are $20 advance, $25 at the door. You can buy them online at www.all-together-now.ca.

In the final half hour, we chatted with activists Matt Soltys and Sam Ansleis from the group that occupied the proposed business park site at Hanlon Creek about their decision to occupy the site, and their take on the talk of intimidation  that has dogged this issue since the occupation ended.

Don’t rush to disregard what these young activists have to say. Its too easy to write them off as immature idealists who don’t really understand the issues. Also, check out their recent editorial in the Guelph Mercury if you get a chance.

Royal City Rag will continue to follow this developing issue. There is a lot of information about the Hanlon Creek Business Park development process that has never made it out into the mainstream. We’ll endevour to bring that to you.

Music:
Cuff The Duke, Like The Morning from Way Down Here
James Gordon, The Library Song (Live/Demo)
The Acorn, Crooked Legs from Glory, Hope, Mountain
Ken Whiteley, Sing With Me from Gospel Music Makes Me Feel Alright
Billy Bragg, You Woke Up My Neighborhood from The Essential Billy Bragg
Proclaimers, I’m on My Way (Live) from Notes and Rhymes Deluxe Edition (Import)

Listen to the show:
Part 1
Part 2

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We have another packed show lined up for October 3. In the first hour of the show we’ll be talking to Virginia Gilham from Friends of the Guelph Public Library about their upcoming giant book sale taking place the weekend of October 24-25. We’ll also talk to Sally Wismer from Guelph Arts Council about some arts events to check out during October.

Whiteley Gospel ChoirIn the second hour we’re going to hook up with Ryder Ball, one of the singers taking part in Ken Whiteley’s Incredible One-Day Gospel Choir at Three Willows Church on October 4 at 7.30 p.m.

Ken Whiteley and The Incredible One-Day Gospel Choir
Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 7.30 p.m.
Three Willows United Church
577 Willow Road
Guelph, Ontario

TICKETS: $20 advance, $25 at the door
ON-LINE: www.all-together-now.ca
OUTLET: Ground Floor Music
13 Quebec Street, Guelph, ON, 519-827-1444

Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

Later in the second hour we’ll be chatting with activists Matt Soltys and Sam Ansleis from the group that occupied the proposed business park site at Hanlon Creek about why they decided they had to make such an overt political statement, and get their take on the talk of intimidation  that has dogged this issue since the occupation ended. Check out their recent editorial in the Guelph Mercury if you get a chance.

Royal City Rag, Saturdays from 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm. Don’t miss it!

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It is interesting that the same day that a letter regarding a ‘third way approach to the Hanlon Creek Business Park development, is sent to the Mayor, Council and Manager of Tourism and Economic development, this editorial, by members of the HCBP Occupation group, is published in the Guelph Mercury.

Members of the HCBP Occupation group will be on Royal City Rag this Saturday, October 3, from 8-9 a.m. to talk about their opposition to this development. It promises to be an interesting show. Don’t miss it!

Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

Business Park Lands Must Be Saved From Development
Guelph Mercury, September 30, 2009
Sam Ansleis and Matt Soltys

The Hanlon Creek Business Park occupation came from a long campaign to protect this land. Many of us are long-term Guelphites who have worked for years toward social justice and environmental protection. We are dedicated to healing this land and our human community, but there comes a time when we also have to stop destructive acts.

The HCBP is proposed for a 675-acre piece of land in the south end of the city. The City of Guelph is the primary developer, proposing 367 acres of buildings and parking lots, 69 acres of roads, and 74 acres of storm water management ponds. Of developable land, 85 per cent would be covered by impermeable surfaces. In the centre is what many regard as an old-growth forest, a sensitive native ecosystem containing some of Wellington County’s oldest trees. There are no confirmed tenants for the proposed business park

While differing on tactics, groups such as the Wilderness Committee, the Sierra Club, the Ontario Public Interest Research Group’s Speed River Project, Wellington Water Watchers, the Guelph Council of Canadians, and the Guelph Urban Forest Friends have also identified problems with the proposed business park. Downstream from Guelph, the Hoskanigetah of the Grand River, the traditional decision-making body from Six Nations, has allied with the occupiers against the proposed business park. It has ordered the city to “cease and desist the development,” due to risks to our shared watershed.

This land, like most of southern Ontario, is suffering from death by a thousand cuts. Eighty per cent of the wetlands in southern Ontario have been destroyed, and less than one per cent of old-growth forest remains. Individual developments are rationalized as having insignificant impacts, but taken together, sprawl is killing this land.

We occupied the site because the political system has failed us and is failing to protect the land. Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge proclaims we have “ignored the democratic process.” But beyond providing abundant scientific evidence contradicting the city’s plan, we and others have attended every possible public meeting, written letters, met with city staff, the Grand River Conservation Authority, the Ministry of Natural Resources and local politicians, and had standing-room-only town hall debates – yet the city still wishes to bulldoze ahead. Occasionally these processes establish piecemeal improvements, yet the project itself is never up for debate. This enables politicians to tout their “public process,” while ignoring more fundamental concerns.

Ironically, the most significant improvements to the business park proposal occurred only because the city was forced twice into court. In 2006, the city was taken to the Ontario Municipal Board, which imposed 75 conditions, though only three have much environmental significance. The other 72 simply address traffic, costs, lighting, fences and such.

The second time was our work stoppage, where both us and the cty filed applications for injunctions. We exposed the ministry’s opposition to the business park due to faulty salamander surveys, and how the city ignored the ministry and tried forcing the project through.

So, when Farbridge says, “A handful of protestors have held the city hostage and ignored democratic processes,” we’re confused. Hundreds of people participated in the occupation, with untold more offering support. Of the 32 days work was stopped, 25 were the result of court orders and ministry deliberation. Did the courts and the Ministry of Natural RTesources also hold the city “hostage?”

The city constantly tells us the business park is a “done deal.” But if democracy is to have integrity, the process should be amenable to such large concerns, and nothing should ever be a “done deal” – especially when the land remains intact. A dump site in Simcoe County is just one example where council recently voted to cancel the project.

Many people begin activism with some faith in the system. Many more lose that faith after pouring too much of their lives into a system designed to fail us. What was interesting about the occupation was that many people came in support who aren’t at all “activists,” but were excited and moved by our actions. The occupation arose because we’re sick and tired of watching our planet literally fall apart while those in power pass responsibility back and forth, and we found we are far from alone. Business as usual has to end, climate scientists warn with increasing urgency. That land could host wildlife habitat, community gardens, urban farms, orchards, seed banks, and learning facilities – precisely the antidote to mounting challenges of climate change and peak oil. But if this City keeps holding onto an industrial park as a solution, then we’re in for serious trouble.

We need radical change in how we think, how we relate to each other and to the land, and how we live, and we can’t rely on anyone else for this. We need courage, honesty, love, empathy, and action. The occupation is a beginning of a more organized, empowered and urgent collective defence of this earth. You are more than welcome to join us.

Sam Ansleis and Matt Soltys were among the group that occupied the proposed site of the Hanlon Creek Business Park this summer. More writings by their group can be viewed at HCBPoccupation.wordpress.com.

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Today, a formal letter was sent to Mayor Karen Farbridge, Guelph City Council and the City of Guelph’s Manager of Tourism and Economic Development, Peter Cartwright, that both recognizes the merits of the Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP) plan and calls for adjustments to help the project truly “meet the environmental side of the triple bottom line.”

The letter was extensively researched and is signed by several community groups (Council of Canadians, Guelph Urban Forest Friends and the Sierra Club) and prominent Guelph activists (James Gordon, Hugh Whiteley, Gail McCormack and Mike Darmon).

It recommends a number of “reasonable changes” to the HCBP plan that would help to ensure the health of provincially significant wetlands and wildlife, retain more mature native trees, reduce soil disruption to ensure the growth of new trees and shrubs, lessen the impact of roads on natural areas, and protect aquifer recharge areas that are important for our water supply. It also includes the recommendation that construction continue to be delayed until more is known about the habitat of species at risk in the project area.

Finally, the letter calls for increased investment in the reuse of existing buildings and the redevelopment of ‘brownfield’ sites.

View the text of the letter here.

Add Your Voice…

Contacting Guelph City Council

Mayor Farbridge: mayor@guelph.ca

Ward 1: Bob Bell bob.bell@guelph.ca, Kathleen Farrelly kathleen.farrelly@guelph.ca
Ward 2: Vicki Beard vicki.beard@guelph.ca, Ian Findlay ian.findlay@guelph.ca
Ward 3: Maggie Laidlaw maggie.laidlaw@guelph.ca, June Hofland june.hofland@guelph.ca
Ward 4: Gloria Kovach gloria.kovach@guelph.ca, Mike Salisbury mike.salisbury@guelph.ca
Ward 5: Lise Burcher lise.burcher@guelph.ca, Leanne Piper leanne.piper@guelph.ca
Ward 6: Christine Billings christine.billings@guelph.ca, Karl Wettstein karl.wettstein@guelph.ca

Don’t know your ward? Click here to see the map.

Expect to hear more about this issue on Royal City Rag,  Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm. If it happens in Guelph, you’ll hear about it on Royal City Rag!

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The Mysterious Mounds Of Earth On The Access Road

The Mysterious Mounds Of Earth On The Access Road

Early this week there was much kerfuffle on the Guelph Mercury 59 Carden Street blog about some mysterious mounds of earth that had suddenly appeared on the access road from McWilliams Road into the proposed site for the Hanlon Creek Business Park. These piles of earth eventually turned out to be topsoil intended to resurface and reseed the access road to limit sediment in the spring.

A non-story then? Well, not exactly.

Intrepid Royal City Rag contributor,  freelance journalist Bob Gordon elected, as part of his investigation of this potentially nefarious activity, to call the contractor, Drexler Construction, hoping to determine the nature of the work:

As part of my investigation of the mysterious mounds of earth I decided to contact Drexler Construction. Ienjoyed an entirely surrealistic conversation with a pleasant and completely unhelpful person in the accounts receivable department who happened to answer the phone.

She informed me that Drexler does not have a voice mail system in their office, does not take written messages and does not release cell phone numbers of its field staff. She also assured me that I needed to speak to the company president, Jerome Drexler, but “I can almost guarantee you he won’t get back to you.”

Equally helpfully she was unable to confirm whether project manager Andy Miller was onsite at the HCBP or elsewhere, and if he would be willing to speak to me.

Also in the morning I spoke to a friend involved in environmental work who suggested, “it would appear they may be stabilizing the site in an appropriate fashion. This is certainly necessary as leaving this area unvegetated would allow a significant source of sediment to potentially enter the stream during rain and spring snow melt.”

This opinion was confirmed by Ian Hagman, Guelph District Manager for the Ministry of Natural Resources, by e-mail, “The work being undertaken is topsoil being placed on the construction access road that will be seeded with grass seed. This is not a construction activity where material is being removed but rather topsoil being brought in to the site to cover over the construction path.”

Undaunted I headed out to the site at noon to see what was what. What was there was nothing, at least nothing in a nefarious sense.

For the record, the mounds of earth are topsoil intended to resurface and reseed the access road to limit sediment in the spring.

That doesn’t preclude concern about the city, the developer (read the city) and the contractor’s intentions. But in this instance they are innocent of any underhand motive.

So there we are… A non-story. Well, yes but we should still be circumspect.

The unwillingness of the contractor to comment raises questions about their motives and intentions and more concern about the mood that the city’s behaviour has created around this project.

Catch Royal City Rag,  Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm for more on important community issues.

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This just arrived in my inbox… part of an ongoing media campaign to change minds in Guelph:

“Hanlon Creek Business Park, Good For Our Economy, Ensuring Environmental Protection”

“Last year the City of Guelph asked residents which issues should receive the most attention from local leaders. Not surprisingly, taxation and the environment ranked in the top five. The Hanlon Creek Business Park has been a priority of successive City Councils and, not coincidentally, addresses both taxation and the environment.

Lightening the tax load for residential taxpayers:
The Hanlon Creek Business Park will play an important role in Guelph’s economy by supporting approximately 9,000 good jobs for Guelph. Attracting businesses helps everyone, because business taxes help fund facilities like libraries and community centres, and services like ambulances and waste collection. A balanced tax ratio between businesses and residences helps lighten the load for residential taxpayers.

Environmental protection:
The City of Guelph knows well that preventing sprawl is an important part of protecting our environment. That’s because as people spread out into rural or natural areas, we impact the environment in many ways.
The Hanlon Creek Business Park is within Guelph’s boundaries, so it does not contribute to sprawl. At the same time, the Hanlon Creek Business Park has been designed to protect significant environmental features.

Its design includes:
Protection of the heritage maple grove
Protection of Provincially Significant Wetlands, their fisheries and terrestrial habitat
Restoration of at least 10 acres of meadowland
20 hectares of tree canopy cover to increase the existing tree canopy from approximately 26% to 35%.
Protection of ground water quantity and quality

The Hanlon Creek Business Park comes after almost a decade of public consultation, scientific assessments and thorough environmental analysis.”

 

And Now… What The City Isn’t Telling You

Jobs – the figure of 9000 ‘good’ jobs for Guelph in this piece is significantly less than the 10-12,000 jobs the city has been using to date.

Are those really “Guelph” jobs?

As the business park is right next to a major highway, how many of the people to be employed there will commute from outside Guelph?

I’m not sure what criteria they use for ‘good’ or how they arrive at their figures. Doing the math based on expected employment density (see the Watson and Associates Employment Lands report), others come up with a much lower job creation figure.

Environment – What the City forgets to mention is that a lot of the environmental protection that is now part of the plan (including the protection of the heritage maple grove) was only added because of the stalwart opposition of a group of Guelph citizens who decided to take the city to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), at significant personal cost for those involved. The citizens didn’t get anywhere near what they wanted in the OMB mediation process because the city waited them out… and unfortunately the opposition ran out of money.

Trees – Almost 1700 trees are scheduled to be destroyed, including dozens of mature bur oak, sugar maple, elm, black cherry and other native species that are an invaluable part of our urban forest. It would take decades for new plantings to replace the 33 acres of canopy they provide.

Sprawl – sprawl is sprawl whether it occurs inside or outside the city boundary. What the city neglects to mention is how much more building will occur once plans for the Hanlon Creek Business Park are in place. The City should really be billing the Hanlon Creek Business Park as The Gateway To Sprawl because that is what will surely happen once plans for the business park and accompanying new 400 series Hanlon Expressway are in place.

Timeline – It may have taken over 10 years to get here but that still doesn’t make this a good plan. Several local organisations including the Guelph Civic League, Council of Canadians, Guelph Urban Forest Friends and Sierra Club have asked the city to take another look at the plans for this site and engage with concerned members of our community.

The city, and, supposedly, the most environmentally friendly council in history, has steadfastly reduced to budge from their position. Perhaps it is time to ask the question, Why?

Growth – Growth is the elephant in the living room. There is significant concern that further growth along the Hanlon Expressway (or the new 400 series highway it will become) will encourage further growth… along the highway.

Take a look at this promotional document from the City from 2005 to see how Mayor Quarrie’s administration clearly promotes further land aquisition for development as a city strategy.
 
Granted, the current administration is a huge step up from the last, but I’ve been constantly reminded by supporters of this project that the plans for the business park were long in the making.

Has the Farbridge administration done anything to rescind the plans put in place by the Quarrie administration?

Finally, the city is both the developer and the regulator of this development. If that is so, bearing in mind this is a huge conflict of interest, who will ensure that the community’s interests are protected?

As part of the next City survey, please place the following issues in order of importance: sprawl, taxation, environment, quality of life…

To quote a Karen Farbridge article from the 90s… “Where are we going? …because we are getting there fast!”

Expect to hear more, much more, about this on Royal City Rag. Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm.

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Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

It was another busy Royal City Rag on September 26. Bob Gordon joined us again in the first hour to provide an update on the proposed Hanlon Creek Business Park development. This week’s segment focused around a great piece that Bob wrote for the Guelph Mercury questionning some of the written statements of Mayor Karen Farbridge. Although there is no doubt that Mayor Farbridge has (as Bob puts it) impeccable environmental credentials there is quite a difference between her approach to environmental issues as director as OPIRG, where she served for 10 years and now, as a two term Mayor of Guelph. One wonders what has changed?

This is a great radio segment. I’d definitely suggest you take a listen.

Although I’d like to encourage you to listen to the whole show (it’s always great fun) we’ve excerpted it as a taster:

Later, in the first hour, we talked to David Estill about Guelph’s new bridge club. It was great to hear David’s enthusiasm for the game. I’m betting it will be the next big thing. Check out the club if you get a chance.

In the second hour we were pleased to welcome Sam Turton and Jane Lewis back to the show to talk about their All Together Now music for everyone workshop series. Sam and Jane are bringing roots music master extraordinaire, Ken Whiteley to Guelph on October 4 for a gospel show at Three Willows church. This is a show with a difference as it features a one-day gospel choir, trained during an afternoon workshop with Ken. Those of you who have joined Ken for gospel hour at the Hillside Festival will know what an amazing experience his shows are.

Ken joined us on the phone from Quebec where he is currently on tour during the show. Sam and Jane also played live for us in the studio.

Whiteley Gospel ChoirKen Whiteley and The Incredible One-Day Gospel Choir
Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 7.30 p.m.
Three Willows United Church
577 Willow Road
Guelph, Ontario

TICKETS: $20 advance, $25 at the door
ON-LINE: www.all-together-now.ca
OUTLET: Ground Floor Music
13 Quebec Street, Guelph, ON, 519-827-1444

Royal City Rag has two tickets to giveaway for the show.  To win these fabulous tickets, you’ll need to answer the following question.

Question: What was the year of Ken Whiteley’s most recent Hillside Gospel Hour performance?”

Send your responses to info@royalcityrag.ca. The first winning response wins the tickets

Music:
Ken Whiteley, Brightest Star from Acoustic Electric
Neil Young, See The Sky About To Rain from Live At Massey Hall 1971
Shirley Eikhard. Something To Talk About from Country
Aretha Franklin, Bridge Over Troubled Water from The Essentials
Ken Whiteley, That’s When I Need A Song from One World Dance
Sam Turton with Jane Lewis,  I’m On My Way (Live)
Ken Whiteley, Gospel Music Makes Me Feel Alright from Gospel Music Makes Me Feel Alright
Ken Whiteley Two Wings from One World Dance
Sam Turton with Jane Lewis, I Wanna Go Downtown (Live)

Listen to the show:
Part 1

Part 2

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Royal City Rag promo Sat 2We’ve another busy Royal City Rag planned for September 26.

Bob Gordon will be back on the show during the first hour to provide an update on the Hanlon Creek Business Park. Later, in the first hour, we’ll be talking to David Estill about Guelph’s new bridge club.

In the second hour we are pleased to welcome our good friends Sam Turton and Jane Lewis back to the show to talk about their All Together Now music for everyone workshop series.

Sam and Jane are bringing roots music master extraordinaire, Ken Whiteley to Guelph on October 4 for a gospel show at Three Willows church. This is a show with a difference as it features a one-day gospel choir, trained during an afternoon workshop with Ken. Those of you who have joined Ken for gospel hour at the Hillside Festival will know what an amazing experience his shows are.

We hope to have Ken join us on the phone from Quebec where he is currently on tour during the show. Sam and Jane will also be playing live for us in the studio.

Whiteley Gospel ChoirKen Whiteley and The Incredible One-Day Gospel Choir
Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 7.30 p.m.
Three Willows United Church
577 Willow Road
Guelph, Ontario

TICKETS: $20 advance, $25 at the door
ON-LINE: www.all-together-now.ca
OUTLET: Ground Floor Music
13 Quebec Street, Guelph, ON, 519-827-1444

Royal City Rag has two tickets to giveaway for the show.  To win these fabulous tickets, you’ll need to answer the following question.

Question: What was the year of Ken Whiteley’s most recent Hillside Gospel Hour performance?”

Send your responses to info@royalcityrag.ca. The first winning response wins the tickets.

Join us Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm or after the fact via this website or CFRU archive. A great way to start your Saturday!

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Bob Gordon

Bob Gordon

The Elephant In The Living Room Is Green
Bob Gordon, Freelance Journalist/Royal City Rag Contributor

In the wake of the occupation of the land slated to become the Hanlon Creek Businesss Park (HCBP) and the ensuing injunction hearings I contacted a variety of Guelph civic and environmental organizations.

I did not contact the organization known as LIMITS nor did I speak to the occupants themselves. In both cases, their positions seemed self-evident. They want the construction of the business park to be permanently deep-sixed.

I did however contact local Sierra Club representative Judy Martin, the Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians (CoC-Guelph) and the Guelph Civic League (GCL). Co-Chair Norah Chaloner (with Dave Sills) responded for the CoC-Guelph as did President Annie O’Donoghue on behalf of the GCL.

None of these organizations expressed support for the occupation.

However Norah Chaloner noted that “the action taken by these young people lead to the revelation of information that was not being made available to the public…. the two letters from MNR to the city, dated May 25 and July 31, strongly advising against continued development.” Judy Martin concurred, “We believe the protesters brought attention to an important matter.”

Chaloner and Martin were also united in the view that both the Minister of Natural Resources, Donna Cansfield and Mayor Karen Farbridge should accept the conclusions of the MNR’s Guelph District office and stop work until appropriate investigation of the Jefferson Salamnder issue could be conducted.

Looking to the future, on August 17, Annie O’Donoghue stated, “GCL’s position is to urge the city to bring all community stakeholders together to seek a collaborative solution to the issues surrounding HCBP.” The GCL has continued to take this approach.

On September 22, the Guelph Mercury published an open letter from the GCL to the mayor that continues to espouse this consultative approach. “We would like to invite Farbridge to re-engage the community within a collaborative process that addresses any legitimate citizen concerns and reinstates community cohesion.”

The bottom-line is five community organizations have significant concerns with the situation as it now stands and the plans for the HCBP in there present form.

Even a group such as the GCL that believes “the Hanlon Creek Business Park has the potential to strengthen our economy and increase job opportunities while protecting the environment” has concerns.

The mayor firmly rejected any further dialogue.

The real story here is the ‘silence of the Greens.’

Repeatedly, throughout August, I contacted various members of the Green Party requesting information or answers. They simply refused to reply or respond.

Speaking in Guelph on September 10, Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May declined to comment on the HCBP issue specifically, “Yes, it’s important to protect moraine, wetlands and old growth forest. On the other hand, this is an issue I think I’ll defer to the local Greens.”

Subsequently, I informed the leader’s executive assistant, Debra Eindiguer that it seemed unusual to defer to a group that refused to comment.

She assured me that a statement from the local Greens would be forthcoming early in the week of September 21-25.

By e-mail I received a response from Guelph Greens’ CEO Tara Treanor that speaks for itself: “How odd. I can’t imagine why Debra would say such a thing – unless she has been in touch with someone other than me (I’m supposed to be the head honcho as much as the Greens have a hierarchy – which isn’t really at all, at least not locally).”

“In any case, we are not in a position to “issue a statement”, not least because it would be about 40 pages long so hardly a statement! I’m sorry to say that Debra was wrong.”

There is an elephant in the living room folks. It is Green. It is confused… and it is very long-winded.

Bob Gordon
bob34g@gmail.com

For more on this and other community issues, tune into Royal City Rag, Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm.

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Laird Road AmphibiansGood news for any amphibians trying to cross Laird Road this evening!

City Hall has taken the step of closing a portion of the south side of Laird Road tonight, Tuesday, September 22.

It seems that having dead amphibians put on display at City Hall spurred them into action. That or city administrator Hans Loewig was just waiting on his cue to come down from the mount and say that the city was working urgently to resolve this problem.

Its interesting that citizens requested that the City do something about this issue in September 2008, yet they did nothing. As recently as this week the city said they couldn’t have a plan in place until April or May 2010.

Amazing what the City can do when they put their mind to it. Reminds me of the Goldie Mill Parking Lot issue.

Now if we could just get them to take another look at the plans for the Hanlon Creek Business Park…

Not sure what will happen tomorrow. You’d better stay tuned.

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The Guelph Civic League is challenging the Mayor and City to reopen the dialogue regarding the proposed Hanlon Creek Business Park development. The City attended a Guelph Civic League facilitated session with concerned community groups on March 26 yet there has been very little dialogue since.

So much for the Guelph Civic League being… as one person who wrote to me put it… “the Farbridge Party“. Kudos to them for taking a stand.

Guelph Needs Openness, Respect
Guelph Mercury, September 22, 2009

Letter from Annie O’Donoghue, President, Guelph Civic League, on behalf of the league’s executive committee

Many citizens contacted the Guelph Civic League this summer to express concerns regarding the city’s handling of two development projects: the Guelph Youth Music Centre parking lot upgrade and the Hanlon Creek Business Park. We realize the two are very different in scope and complexity, but hope to draw your attention to the engagement practices as they relate to the concerns and subsequent outcomes.

We commend Coun. Ian Findlay for his leadership related to the youth music centre. As the ward representative, he intervened once citizens raised the alarm about an absence of real public process. Findlay listened, then supported both local and city-wide input to reduce the environmental impact of the project. We also commend the city staff and Farbridge for publicly acknowledging that a mistake had been made with respect to the process.

Finally, we applaud the swift response in bringing staff and community stakeholders together to share information and develop solutions. We hope this can serve as a successful model for future developments.

The Hanlon Creek Business Park process has not been as smooth. Despite the original public engagement and Ontario Municipal Board processes, community concerns began coming to our attention in late 2008 and have steadily increased. There seems to be significant frustration among various stakeholders surrounding this project exacerbated by recent acts of alleged “intimidation,” vandalism, civil disobedience and property damage. Most recently, citizens have expressed concerns relating to the nature of the city’s responses and the tone of city communications. There appears to be a general lack of clarity regarding the obstacles or avenues for change available, once a development has been passed by council, tendered and awarded.

We at Guelph Civic League believe:

•The Hanlon Creek Business Park has the potential to strengthen our economy and increase job opportunities while protecting the environment,

•Maintaining respectful community dialogue is especially important when contentious issues prevail,

•There should be zero tolerance for verbal abuse, intimidation, vandalism or property damage of any kind,

•Multi-stakeholder collaboration should be solution-focused and open to compromise,

•Civic leaders should clearly account for the city’s capacity to address concerns within the constructs available and

•As a community we share a responsibility to strike a balance between a strong environment and a strong economy.

We appreciate the efforts of city staff and council, respect the parameters of democratic process and applaud our local environmental groups for their ongoing stewardship and advocacy. We believe, given the nature of ongoing concerns, the extent of misunderstanding and a growing sense of distrust and frustration by all parties, further action is required before the Hanlon Creek Business Park work recommences in the spring.

We would like to invite Farbridge to re-engage the community within a collaborative process that addresses any legitimate citizen concerns and reinstates community cohesion. This is not about going over old ground but rather moving forward — seeking solutions where possible and developing better clarity, accountability and understanding around process and decisions.

The Guelph Civic League would be happy to convene a small meeting (between the league’s executive, Farbridge and council representatives) at 10 Carden St. to explore this and/or any thoughts you may have regarding next steps.

If all parties remain committed to a spirit of openness, compromise and mutual respect, we can achieve the same success for the Hanlon Creek Business Park as was demonstrated by the Guelph Youth Music Centre stakeholders. We are counting on the mayor’s leadership to make a difference.

Annie O’Donoghue, president, Guelph Civic League, on behalf of the league’s executive committee

For more on this issue, catch Royal City Rag, Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm.

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Much has been made by the City of Guelph and Mayor Farbridge that the proposed Hanlon Creek Business Park is as environmentally friendly a development as possible.

I received the following information from a community activist this morning. It concerns the needless death of over 200 amphibians who tried to cross Laird Road last night where the road cuts through the wetland. Mild, humid nights at this time of year encourage this amphibian migration. The next couple of nights are expected to have the same outcome if nothing is done.

The city was asked in September 2008 to put a simple road block up at each end of the road for a temporary closure on nights such as last night. There has been no action, and we continue to lose wetland amphibians.

The removal of Laird road and the integration of the wetland system was once a key part of the Hanlon Creek Business Park plan. It is now watered down somewhat with a partial closure planned, and even then that would not occur until years from now.

Personally, I think the city (and Mayor, who promotes her green credentials at every opportunity) could be doing far more to ensure that this development is truly as environmentally friendly as they claim. 

Make your own mind up and if you feel strongly about this please contact the Mayor and councillors (e-mail addresses below)

Amphibians Who Failed To Cross Laird Road

Amphibians Who Failed To Cross Laird Road

This evening a group of citizens went out to Laird Rd to see if the migration of amphibians had started. It was well underway. Warm humid nights in September after a dry spell.

We are sending you a photo of some of the ones that did not make it between 7.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. We were able to aid some in crossing.

We are asking the city to close the road to general traffic from dusk to dawn (or dusk to midnight) for the next 2-3 weeks on evenings that are warm and wet. 

We asked in September 2008 and today are assured that in April 2010 there will be a solution.

The bodies will go to City Hall this morning as evidence.

Since amphibians are a diminishing species , we feel that the citizens should be alerted to aid any in their areas. Some green corridors will have them crossing from one side to the other of a roadway to get to their wintering pond. This is similar to bird migration.

Thank you for any attention you can give this critical problem.

The Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians is encouraging members of the community to meet at Laird Road (between the Hanlon and Downey Road) tonight from 7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.  to try to save as many of the amphibians as possible. All are welcome, but make sure to wear reflective clothing, and bring a flashlight, bucket and gloves.

 

Contacting Mayor and Council

Mayor Farbridge: mayor@guelph.ca

Ward 1: Bob Bell bob.bell@guelph.ca, Kathleen Farrelly kathleen.farrelly@guelph.ca
Ward 2: Vicki Beard vicki.beard@guelph.ca, Ian Findlay ian.findlay@guelph.ca
Ward 3: Maggie Laidlaw maggie.laidlaw@guelph.ca, June Hofland june.hofland@guelph.ca
Ward 4: Gloria Kovach gloria.kovach@guelph.ca, Mike Salisbury mike.salisbury@guelph.ca
Ward 5: Lise Burcher lise.burcher@guelph.ca, Leanne Piper leanne.piper@guelph.ca
Ward 6: Christine Billings christine.billings@guelph.ca, Karl Wettstein karl.wettstein@guelph.ca

Don’t know your ward? Click here to see the map.

For more on this issue, catch Royal City Rag, Saturday mornings, 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm.

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It was another jam-packed Royal City Rag on September 19. During the first hour we talked to Lea Tran, Horticultural Therapist at the Guelph Enabling Garden about their fall workshops. We also played a series of short interviews recorded at the Eden Mills Writers Festival in 2006. Unfortunately Bob Gordon was unable to be on the show to provide another update on the ever-evolving Hanlon Creek Business Park situation. We hope to have Bob back on the show next week. Expect to hear and read a lot more about this issue on Royal City Rag over the coming weeks.

We devoted the whole of the second hour to the Eden Mills Writers Festival which takes place this coming Sunday, September 20. Local authors Andrew Hood and Mary Swan joined us live in the studio with added colour commentary from Eden Mills Writers Festival Artistic Director and Royal City Rag contributor, Marie Zimmerman.

Music:
Andrew McPherson, In Your Sea from Lefty Singer
Bill Garrett and Sue Lothrop, Never No More from Red Shoes
Ken Whiteley, Peace Peace Peace from Afghanistan On Guard For Thee
Lambchop, National Talk Like A Pirate Day from OH (Ohio)
Rita Chiarelli Loving You Is Killing Me from Uptown Goes Downtown

Listen to the show:
Part 1

Part 2

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colmusic ad web72There’s a little bit of bubble and a lot of squeak on Royal City Rag this week!

During the first hour we’ll be talking to Lea Tran, Horticultural Therapist at the Guelph Enabling Garden about their fall workshops. We’ll also catch up with Bob Gordon for another update on the ever-evolving Hanlon Creek Business Park situation. Finally, in the first hour, we’ll check in with Magee McGuire at the Guelph Farmers Market.

This week, we’re devoting the whole of the second hour to the Eden Mills Writers Festival which takes place this coming Sunday, September 20. Local authors Andrew Hood and Mary Swan will be joining us live in the studio with added colour commentary from Eden Mills Writers Festival Artistic Director and Royal City Rag contributor, Marie Zimmerman.

Gwynne Dyer The Mess They MadeDon’t forget that Gwenne Dyer will be in Guelph this Saturday to give a special talk entitled “After Iraq…?”.

He’ll also be chatting with fellow author and broadcaster Ray Robertson. This pre-festival session takes place in the Bookshelf cinema at 12 noon.  A reception and book-signing will follow.

Tickets cost $10 and as a special deal you can pay $15 and get the Gwynne Dyer talk plus admission to the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival on Sunday. Tickets will be available at the door.

Yet another busy Royal City Rag.

Join us Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm or after the fact via this website or CFRU archive. A great way to start your Saturday!

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Another perspective on the Hanlon Creek Business Park that highlights the City’s need to engage in dialogue with those groups that have concerns about the current plans for the development. This commentary appeared as a letter in both the Guelph Mercury and Guelph Tribune. I hope those at the City are paying attention; this issue isn’t going away any time soon.

For more on this and other important community issues, catch Royal City Rag between 7-9 a.m. each Saturday morning on CFRU 93.3fm.

Susan Wheeler

Susan Wheeler

Hanlon Creek Business Park: Let’s All Step Back And Take A Breath
Susan Wheeler
Ability Advisor, Wheeler Consulting
Guelph Mercury

It would be fair to say that the Hanlon Creek Business Park development project has brought forward a lot of controversy.

What is interesting and somewhat disappointing is the manner and tone that is presented in the debating dialogue. The he said, she said, and finger pointing is immature and nonproductive.

In regard to this supposed intimidating letter from two young activists, I must say the letter as it reads is about as effective as the hordes of junk mail found in my mail box, which by the way is unsolicited but sent to me in an effort to sell me their idea, service or product.

Taking them into “custody” would certainly be a waste of police time and our tax dollars.

Whether the decision to “turn themselves’ in” was because they wanted to correct what was deemed as an inappropriate action, or use the opportunity to hold a press release to grandstand things further is not known.

Either way, an action was put forth to support or express their intent. This is the role of activism and any democratic system allows for such expression within the limits of the law.

Back to my comment about the disappointing dialogue, from all sides, by the way. Overall, in my opinion, the comments that have been written, blogged, spoken etc. are argumentative, pompous, slanderous and most importantly based on personal opinions rather than raw data specific to the issue at hand; the city’s growth and future direction.

At this point I don’t want to delve further into the issue because the listening has been tainted by a stance of judgment and that in of itself leaves no space for growth or compromise.

Perhaps if all parties would take a step back and take a breath, they might find it possible to see with a new position of observation?

Susan Wheeler

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Royal City Rag on September 12 had everything, one of our best ever shows. Community issues, local politics, arts, music, books… it was all there, with some fine music selections thrown in for good measure.

LEAF_Ad_Guelph_400x500_WEBDuring the first hour we talked to Karen McKeown from Healthy Landscapes at the The City of Guelph about the Cool Communities tree rebate program.  The project is aimed at encouraging homeowners to plant trees for energy conservation.  Shade trees planted on the southern and western sides of a home can save 25–40%, and reduce peak energy demand in summer by up to 30%. By planting trees, homeowners also improve their neighbourhoods by cleaning the air, decreasing pollution, attracting pollinators, and increasing biodiversity.

The project is being launched as a pilot by Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF), an award-winning, Toronto-based urban forest non-profit organization and is supported by both Guelph Urban Forest Friends (GUFF) and the City of Guelph. Funding has been provided by the Ontario Power Authority’s Conservation Fund. For more information on the Cool Communities project, including a list of participating nurseries, visit www.yourleaf.org/coolcommunities. The program runs from September 12-13 and September 19-20. To take advantage of the discount, and save up to $100, please visit one of the participating nurseries.

Bob Gordon joined us on the phone to provide an update on the Hanlon Creek Business Park, this week pointing out how a proposed condo development, 1291 Gordon Steet, is also raising concern amongst environmentalists because of the potentially serious impact it may have on a neighbouring wetland. Expect to hear more ab0ut 1291 Gordon Street and the continuing furore around the HCBP on upcoming shows. 

Finally, in the first hour, Jennifer, Marsaye and Wendi joined us to chat about Guelph Community Singers, who officially came to life on September 16 at the Guelph Youth Music Centre.

In the second hour, we had the first of what will be a regular chat with  Sally Wismer from Guelph Arts Council about upcoming arts events in Guelph, including Schmoozefest taking place on September 22 and their innovative FourPerformance Pass, the perfect gift, and, a great deal for anyone interested in the performing arts. 

Later in the hour, Ed, Sarah and John joined us to wax lyrically about some of the classic rock from the 70s including Fanfare the Common Man, Live and Let Die and Born to Run

Euphoric Flight

Euphoric Flight

The event is a collaboration between the Guelph Symphony Orchestra and Euphoric Flight,  a pop-rock band formed this year from an outstanding line-up of Guelph musicians including the wonderful guitarist John Tonin.

Rockin’ with the GSO which takes place at the at John F. Ross High School’s E.L.Fox Auditorium on September 19 at 8.00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased from riverrun.ca or the River Run Centre box office at 519-763-3000. Promises to be great fun. 

We wrapped everything up with a phone chat with Drew Hayden Taylor who you can catch in the Adisokaun area at the Eden Mill’s Writers Festival on September 20.

A great show. I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Music:
Sarah Jane Morris, Mad Woman Blues from Love & Pain
Johnny Cash, What Is Truth? from The Legend
Steve Earle and The Del McCoury Band, Pilgrim from Mountain
Les Paul and Mary Ford, Chicken Reel from The Ultimate Collection
Emerson Lake and Palmer, from Fanfare For The Common Man  (Live in Montreal)  from Youtube
Billy Joel, Scenes From An Italian Restaurant from Live At Carnegie Hall 1977
Royal Wood, Don’t Fall Apart from The Lost and Found EP

Listen to the show:
Part 1

Part 2

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Hanlon Creek Activists Can’t Even Get ‘Three Hots And A Cot’ From The City
Bob Gordon, Freelance Journalist/Member of the Guelph Mercury Community Editorial Board

Bob Gordon Web

Bob Gordon

Activists opposing the development of the Hanlon Creek Business Park responded to the city’s aggressive media campaign last night.

On Friday September 4, a Guelph Police Services press release alleging intimidation, extortion and threats was widely circulated. It was noted on the Guelph Mercury website, forwarded to Ontario Nature and sent to blogs and list serves around Guelph.

Wednesday night, September 9 at 6.30 p.m., the alleged perpetrators responded on the front steps of the Guelph police station.

They read the text of the letter. A letter that contained neither threats nor intimidating comments, and according to the activists, (although not explicitly stated) was simply intended to inform Drexler Construction that they may be held liable if future research confirms the presence of the Jefferson Salamander and work performed by Drexler is deemed to have damaged that habitat.

Two of the people who delivered the letter, Julian Ichim and Kelly Pflug-Back acknowledged that they had done so.

Pflug-Back stated, “we will not stand for being slandered. Implicit or otherwise, there were no threats.”

When they attempted to enter the police station to ‘turn themselves in’ they found the doors locked. They then telephoned the police station and informed the individual that answered the phone that they were there to turn themselves in. They were told that the officer investigating the matter was not on duty and that they could not turn themselves in.

Their lawyer, Davin Charney, who accompanied them, stated that a complaint and a civil lawsuit for wrongful arrest would be pursued if the two were charged with threatening, intimidation or extortion.

It would seem that the city’s well-orchestrated media campaign has finally stepped over the edge. The police media release and the threat of criminal charges are now revealed as being entirely without justification and an issue that the Guelph Police Services seem to be trying to put behind them as soon as possible. Surely leaving egg on the face of the local constabulary has done nothing to endear the administration and the advocates of the HCBP to them.

Hopefully, it has also revealed to the body politic that the city will stop at nothing to manipulate the media and discredit the opposition to the Hanlon Creek Business Park.

Consider carefully the words of Cicero:

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and he carries his banners openly. But the traitor moves among those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the galleys, heard in the very hall of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor – he speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and wears their face and their garment, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation – he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city – he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared.”

Calling themselves green does not change the current administration’s colours it only makes plain that they are deceitful in their handling of this situation.

Bob Gordon
bob34g@gmail.com

 For more on this and other community issues, tune into Royal City Rag, Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm.

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Guelph Police’s urgent mid-afternoon press release from September 2 regarding alleged intimidation by activists calling themselves the Friends of Hanlon Creek has turned out to be nothing more than a damp squib, and suggests yet more undue influence coming from City Hall.

Two members of Friends of The Hanlon Creek  turned themselves in last night, September 9 at Guelph Police Headquarters, while holding a press conference, but it seems there was no one there to take them into custody.

Apparently Guelph Police have more important things to attend to.

Here is the text of the letter that was handed to the individual concerned.

“To whom it may concern,

You are receiving this letter because you are somehow implicated in the proposed development of the Hanlon Creek. This also means that you have a say in the future of the project.

We are demanding that you discontinue your support of the project. It is in all of our best interest.

There has already widespread (sic) opposition of this development and there will be much more to come.

– Friends of the Hanlon Creek”

 

You can read more about the press conference here:

Hanlon Creek Activists Deny Charges
Guelph Mercury, September 10
Tony Saxon

Charges?  I think the police are still investigating… if they are still inclined to.

Seems that the activists are not the only ones choosing their words badly.

 

The Intimidating Document:

Poorly composed? Definitely

Intimidating? Hardly

City Hall making fools of themselves? Priceless

 

Stop Press:

Coming up soon… an editorial on this issue from freelance journalist and Royal City Rag contributor, Bob Gordon.

You can also expect to hear more about this on Royal City Rag, Saturday 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm. Don’t miss it!

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Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

This article was originally posted by Wellington Waterwatchers on their website on March 3, 2009.

I thought it would be a good idea to re-post it here to remind people why well-known and respected local organizations like Wellington Waterwatchers, the Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Guelph Urban Forest Friends and the Sierra Club have all expressed serious concerns about the current plans for the Hanlon Creek Business Park.

 

Hanlon Creek Business Park threatens the sustainability of Guelph’s Water Supply
Wellington Waterwatchers

We acknowledge the necessity for more economic development and additional opportunities for business growth in our community. We desire sustainability in such growth. The initial Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP) plan was envisioned originally as a ‘green’ initiative, with low impact development practices aimed at preserving provincially significant wetlands and old-growth trees found in the area between Downey Road and the Hanlon Expressway.

However the latest plans are not consistent with this ‘green’ plan.  It appears that cost-effectiveness has taken priority over low impact development goals.  In the SHORT term, the plan calls for over 500 acres to be affected, of which as much as 75% may be paved or built over. This plan would dramatically effect a water catchment area which is crucial to the Downey Well and the groundwater recharge of the Paris-Galt Moraine.  The Moraine is a critical source of municipal water supply for Guelph and surrounding area. The Guelph-Puslinch Groundwater Protection Study from 2005 states that increased industrial activity in this sensitive area raises the potential for toxic materials to seep into our drinking water.

There are over 1700  trees, 60 biodiverse hedgerows, plants and up to 4 ft. of topsoil.  Bulldozers and graders will entirely disrupt the soil integrity which will be mass graded for levelling high areas  to low areas. Included in this tree count is a remnant of old-growth forest that has been identified SINCE the development plan was approved in 2005. The Sierra Club of Canada has expressed serious concerns about grading this entire site before businesses have even agreed to locate there. Other communities with similar developments in uncertain economic times have been left with costly unused “Moonscapes”. We believe that more thought should be put into the scope and planning of the HCBP so that the wetland, recharge zones and old growth forest are preserved.

The Paris-Galt Moraine has not been fully mapped. Mayor Karen Farbridge and MPP Liz Sandals requested that the Minister of the Environment protect the Moraine as it overlies Guelph’s drinking water.  We have been questioning all along the wisdom of giving our water away to commercial water bottlers in our area without properly identifying whether our water supply can sustain us through the exponential growth predicted for our city. It is important not to threaten this high quality water supply more with this plan that seems out of step with our current awareness of its potential for environmental damage?

We believe that the City is missing a golden opportunity to be an effective leader in the province by planning a development that can be sensitive to the environment while at the same time provide a sustainable economic opportunity.

Along with a number of other citizens groups, we would like to be able to bring this issue to the City of Guelph Council to help address our concerns. We were surprised and disappointed to learn that there are no plans to bring this matter back to City Council except to examine the tenders offered for the construction of the business park.  This appears to be very premature considering the current economic times and lack of excess public funds.

To us, this does not appear to be within the spirit of the City of Guelph’s mandate for transparency and accountability.

We urge you to write to Mayor Farbridge and City of Guelph councilors to ask, based on the new economic and environmental climate, that the Hanlon Creek Business Park development plans be revisited.

Mayor Farbridge: mayor@guelph.ca

Ward 1: Bob Bell bob.bell@guelph.ca, Kathleen Farrelly kathleen.farrelly@guelph.ca
Ward 2: Vicki Beard vicki.beard@guelph.ca, Ian Findlay ian.findlay@guelph.ca
Ward 3: Maggie Laidlaw maggie.laidlaw@guelph.ca, June Hofland june.hofland@guelph.ca
Ward 4: Gloria Kovach gloria.kovach@guelph.ca, Mike Salisbury mike.salisbury@guelph.ca
Ward 5: Lise Burcher lise.burcher@guelph.ca, Leanne Piper leanne.piper@guelph.ca
Ward 6: Christine Billings christine.billings@guelph.ca, Karl Wettstein karl.wettstein@guelph.ca

Don’t know your ward? Click here to see the map.

Thanks as always for your ongoing support.

For more background information on the Hanlon Creek Business Park, please see this timeline.

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