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Posts Tagged ‘Karen Farbridge’

We continued our coverage of the upcoming municipal election during the first hour of Royal City Rag on October 2.

Erinn White, President of the Guelph Labour Council joined us to chat about the role of labour council within the city as well as political endorsements and contributions.

It’s an excellent interview and well worth checking out if you missed it. During the interview Erinn explained the process the labour council used to make the recently announced endorsements.

For the record, although the GLC has made candidate endorsements for the 2010 election, they will not be making a financial contribution to any candidate this time around.

For more information on the Guelph Labour Council visit www.guelphlabourcouncil.ca.

Later in the first hour we discussed why we believe changes should be made to the municipal elections act in relation to financial contributions.

We would prefer that financial contributions from unions and corporations are banned, as they have been in Toronto. These groups are not individuals – they cannot vote. Why should they then be able to influence the election outcome through their financial support?

We would also like to see candidates make their financial contributions public before election day, not five months afterwards. Voters should have the right to see who is supporting a particular candidate’s campaign.

For more on this issue, check out Funding city Politics on the www.voteguelph.ca website.

And finally, we tackled what we are now calling Blog-gate, an outbreak of multiple blogging personality disorder on the Guelph Mercury city council blog 59 Carden St

Unfortunately former councillor, Cathy Downer, the campaign manager for mayoral candidate Karen Farbridge seems to be one of the most severe cases that have been identified to date.

Not only was she using five different anonymous identities on the blog (Mark, Patty, Bob, ‘Hide & Seek’ and ‘Real Facts’) but she even had them contradicting each other in an effort to make a particular point.

Apparently it was all intended to correct misinformation on the blog and protect the good name of Farbridge who has since claimed she knew nothing of the blogging disorder.

Inexplicably, Farbridge has not asked Downer to resign. It is hard to imagine a candidate at the federal or provincial level handling an issue of deception in such a casual way.

To make the situation even more interesting we have since learned that this disorder has also afflicted mayoral candidate David Birtwistle in the past (Grunt and Stinky Winky). Fortunately he managed to get his condition under control before the election campaign got under way in earnest. However Ward 4 candidate Cam Guthrie seems to also have been severely affected (according to the Mercury – Karl, Linda, Sandy, Ken, Jim T., Holly and “Bookworm”). He even had the identities encouraging him to run for council. Bizarre. See “Something ‘Stinky-winky’ In Election Blogosphere” for more details.

Which raises the question, are we holding our politicians to a lower ethical standard than we expect from ourselves?

Is it any wonder that there is so much cynicism out there. Perhaps we do need to add none of the above to the ballot.

Check out www.voteguelph.ca for more information on this issue. We will definitely be talking about it on Municipal Election Radio, Tuesdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm.

Listen to the show:

Music:
Jack Teagarden, I Swung The Election from Jack Teagarden And His Orchestra
Billy Bragg, There is Power In A Union from The Essential Billy Bragg
Pinky And The Brain TV Theme
Ry Cooder, One Cat, One Vote, One Beer from My Name Is Buddy

Royal City Rag, Saturdays 8-10 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm in Guelph. Remember if you don’t catch Royal City Rag live, you can always pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or here, on the blog, a day or so later.

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Councillor Ian Findlay

We were pleased to welcome Ward 2 councillor Ian Findlay to CFRU93.3fm‘s Royal City Rag on Saturday, September 14. Councillor Findlay. This interview was originally planned for August 28, but had to be rescheduled because of circumstances beyond our control.

As part of our pre-election coverage, we invited all of the current city council, including the Mayor, to join us on the show for an end of term report. An opportunity for council to discuss the main issues they see facing the city, this was the last in the series.

During a wide ranging discussion Ian touched on growth and development, the new composting plant, the community energy initiative, conserving our water vs. a pipeline to Lake Erie, the downtown entertainment taskforce, downtown pissoirs v. washrooms as well as the great Ward 2 blog.

It was a great conversation and well worth checking out.

You can listen to the audio from all of our conversations, by following the audio links below:

Also, visit www.voteguelph.ca for coverage of the Municipal Election 2010.

Music:
Arcade Fire, The Suburbs 1 from The Suburbs
Paul Quarrington, A Waltz at 3.00 a.m. from The Songs

Listen to the show:

Royal City Rag, Saturdays 8-10 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm in Guelph. Remember if you don’t catch Royal City Rag live, you can always pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or here, on the blog, a day or so later.

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Mayor Karen Farbridge

We were pleased to welcome Mayor Karen Farbridge back to CFRU93.3fm‘s Royal City Rag on September 11. As part of our pre-election coverage, we invited all of the current city council, including the mayor, to join us on Royal City Rag for an end of term report.

Mayor Farbridge joined us on July 31 however we were unable to cover as much ground as we hoped in what proved to be a very interesting conversation. The mayor graciously agreed to come back for another chat before the election campaign gets going in earnest.

This week’s conversation focused on the upcoming municipal election campaign, fiscal responsibility, growth and sustainability, governance, accountability and transparency.

Music:
Bob Dylan, Political World from Oh Mercy
Janis Ian, The Great Divide from Folk Is The New Black
Billy Bragg, NPWA from The Essential Billy Bragg

Listen to the show:

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In our interview on July 31 , Mayor Farbridge discussed growth and its impact on municipal taxation, the Ontario government growth plan Places to Grow, Guelph’s Natural Heritage Strategy, the new tree bylaw and the protection of Guelph’s urban trees. Check out that interview HERE.

Royal City Rag, Saturdays 8-10 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm in Guelph. Remember if you don’t catch Royal City Rag live, you can always pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or here, on the blog, a day or so later.

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Mayor Karen Farbridge

We were pleased to welcome Mayor Karen Farbridge to CFRU93.3fm‘s Royal City Rag on July 31. As part of our pre-election coverage, we have invited all of the current city council, including the mayor, to join us on the show for an end of term report. This is an opportunity for council to discuss the main issues they see facing the city, talk about the successes of the current term as well as their hopes for the future. It will also give us a chance to ask some questions of them.

As there was so much to talk about we were unable to cover as much ground as we hoped. Hopefully we’ll get the mayor back for another chat before the election campaign gets going in earnest.

This conversation focused on growth and its impact on municipal taxation, the Ontario government growth plan Places to Grow, Guelph’s Natural Heritage Strategy, the new tree bylaw and the protection of Guelph’s urban trees.

A great discussion. Definitely well worth checking out.

Keep sending all of your questions in. We’ll endevour to get all them all answered, one way or another, before the election campaign heats up. Questions can be sent to info@royalcityrag.ca.

Music:
Andy White, If You Want It from Songwriter
Stephen Fearing, The Longest Road from So Many Miles

Listen to the show:

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Royal City Rag, Saturdays 8-10 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm in Guelph. Remember if you don’t catch Royal City Rag live, you can always pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or here, on the blog, a day or so later.

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After a weekend off to attend Hillside, Royal City Rag will be back on CFRU93.3fm this coming Saturday, July 31.

We are pleased to welcome Mayor Karen Farbridge to the show during our second hour, 9-10 a.m.

As part of our pre-election coverage, we have invited all of the current city council, including the mayor,  to join us on the show for an end of term report. This is an opportunity for council to discuss the main issues they see facing the city, talk about the successes of the current term as well as their hopes for the future. It will also give us a chance to ask some questions of them.

Questions for Mayor Farbridge can be sent to info@royalcityrag.ca. We can’t promise we’ll be able to fit them all in, but we’ll do our best.

It should be a fascinating conversation. You won’t want to miss it.

As always we’ll wrap it all up with some great music.

Royal City Rag, Saturdays 8-10 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm in Guelph. Remember if you don’t catch Royal City Rag live, you can always pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or here, on the blog, a day or so later.

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Royal City Rag on June 26 focused on community advocacy and municipal politics.

In the first hour we played an excerpt from a great presentation by Liz Benneian, President of Oakvillegreen and a very effective advocate for environmental protection, sustainable planning and building resilient communities.

Liz was in Guelph on April 10 for a talk hosted by the Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians entitled “Organizing to Win!”.

An inspiring speaker, her presentation should be required listening for all community activists, especially prior to advocating on a particular issue before city council.

Listen to Hour 1:
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Listen to the full audio of Liz Benneian’s Presentation:
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In the second hour of the show we replayed an interview with Mayor Karen Farbridge from February 2006. The interview is interesting as it was recorded while the Mayor was still teaching at the university, and prior to her decision to run for office again.

Food for thought for all of us as we move towards another municipal election.

We have asked Mayor Farbridge for another interview. Hopefully we will be able to confirm a date for that fairly shortly.

Listen to Hour 2:
Download (right click and save)

Music:
Mumford and Sons, Sister from Communion
Basia Bulat, I’m Forgetting Everyone from Heart Of My Own
Nabi Loney, Bright Square from Myspace
Eddie Vedder, Society from Into The Wild
A Camp, Love Has Left The Room from Colonia
Zeus, I know from Say Us
Julia Fordham, Where Does The Time Go from Julia Fordham
Billy Bragg, NPWA from The Essential Billy Bragg

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Royal City Rag on June 26 will be back on the city beat. In the first hour we are going to play an excerpt from a great presentation by Liz Benneian.

Liz Benneian (Photo: Alternativesjournal.ca)

Liz Benneian is the President of Oakvillegreen and a very effective advocate for environmental protection, sustainable planning and building resilient communities.

Liz was in Guelph on April 10 for a talk hosted by the Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians entitled “Organizing to Win!”.

She is an inspiring speaker. Her presentation should be required listening for all community activists, especially prior to advocating on a particular issue before city council.

Later in the show we will be playing an interview with Karen Farbridge from February 2006. The interview is interesting as it was recorded while Karen was still teaching at the university, and prior to her decision to run again for Mayor. Its a good interview and definitely worth another listen. As we are moving towards another municipal election the time is right to give it another airing.

We’ll have more to say about the upcoming election on the show tomorrow. You won’t want to miss it. As usual we’ll wrap it up with some great music.

Royal City Rag, Saturdays 8-10 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm in Guelph. Remember if you don’t catch Royal City Rag live, you can always pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or here, on the blog, a day or so later.

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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:

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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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Coming Soon To a City You Know And Love!

Perusing plans and chatting with planners may seem like a rather dry way to spend an evening in Guelph but it is rather important.  Especially so, if you love the city you currently call home.

Few people in Guelph seem to understand how much growth the city is expected to absorb over the coming years.

By 2031, under the provincial growth plan, Places To Grow, Guelph’s population will grow from 105,000 to a staggering 165,000. All these people will need somewhere to live, never mind work.

Places to Grow mandates intensification within current limits which is why the downtown is targeted for growth however people elsewhere in the city should not think they will be spared development and intensification.

The city claims that this huge amount of growth will be sustainable. Unfortunately we will have to wait until the growth has taken place to know whether they were right or not.

Fortunately growth will be an election issue this fall. In the meantime we’ll be doing our best to delve into exactly what it all means.

Downtown Growth – March 9
6 – 8.30 p.m.
City Hall, 1 Carden St.
Meeting Room C

The City is planning for more homes, businesses and jobs downtown. Downtown Guelph has been designated as one of the Province’s Urban Growth Centres, and the City’s Downtown Secondary Plan will provide a long-term vision for future development; incorporating the goals of Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horsehoe, Guelph’s Community Energy Plan, and the other recent planning studies. Learn more at  www.guelph.ca/downtownplan

Guelph’s Official Plan Update – March 10 and 11
6.30 – 9.30 p.m
City Hall, 1 Carden St.
Meeting room 112 

The City’s Official Plan provides direction for all types of development within the City; environmental and cultural heritage conservation, transportation planning, and other matters. The Plan incorporates the goals of the City’s Strategic Plan, Growth Management Strategy, Community Energy Plan, Natural Heritage Strategy and other policy documents that strive to create and maintain a beautiful, well-functioning and sustainable city. Community members are invited to one of two Open House events to review and discuss key directions for the City of Guelph’s Official Plan Update. Following a presentation, attendees are invited to ask questions and share comments.
Greg Atkinson, Policy Planner
519-837-5616 Ext. 2521
E greg.atkinson@guelph.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 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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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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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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Bob Gordon Web

Bob Gordon

Farbridge Past And Present
Bob Gordon, Freelance Journalist/Royal City Rag Contributor
Guelph Mercury, September 21 2009

Mayor Karen Farbridge’s credentials as an environmentalist are impeccable. She has an MSc and PhD in biology from the University of Guelph. She was an Associate Professor at the University of Guelph and taught courses in environmental policy.

Most importantly, in terms of environmental activism she was the Director of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) at U of Guelph for a decade. OPIRG Guelph’s website identifies its mandate as recognizing “that there are many ways to initiate and support grassroots radical change, and that our strength as an organization lies in the diversity of our experiences, approaches and tactics…. we operate without hierarchy and uphold the core values of anti-oppression and consensus. We mobilize through a wide variety of methods such as research, creating awareness, lobbying, media, training, protest, and direct action.”

As director of OPIRG Guelph, Karen Farbridge defended that approach articulately and frequently. In the summer issue of Alternatives Journal in 1998 she spoke glowing of the importance of the consensus approach to decision making and environmental activism: “consensus decision making is synonymous with the PIRG experience.”

(Take a look at “PIRG Power, Public Interest Research Groups in Canada celebrate 25 years of student activism by: Karen Farbridge and Peter Cameron” here)

Describing a PIRG organized occuption of a nuclear facility she wrote approvingly of the practical importance of consensus decision making, “When the police tried to arrest the ‘leaders’, hoping to undermine the occupation, they found that it did not dissolve in confusion because everyone was a ‘leader’.”

In a OPIRG Guelph newsletter she authored an article announcing the launch of the Speed River Land Trust Association stating, “Natural areas in the watershed provide habitat and nourishment…. These rivers, their riverlands and the wider watershed define our local communities and are our tangible link to the global environment.”

In an article published in The Guelph Tribune in the early nineties she noted, “our wetlands still face the pressure of urban sprawl—tragically with less protection now than a year ago.”

In her January 2008 Annual Address to Council she continued to speak of vision and high ideals, of doing things differently, “I feel fortunate to be Mayor of a City where the Council, City staff, and community at large have embraced the idea of making a difference. When we included this vision in our Strategic Plan, we knew we were setting the bar high. We did so deliberately, because there was a feeling in the community that if you don’t strive for great things, you have no hope of achieving them.”

Madame Mayor, where has this vision gone?

Bulldozing the Hanlon Creek Business Park forward is not ‘radical change’. Charging seven individuals and ‘Jane and John Doe’ (the community-at-large?) for events surrounding occupation of the site flies in the face of your own assertion that ‘everyone is a leader.’

Have you forgotten “Natural areas in the watershed provide habitat and nourishment…. These rivers, their riverlands and the wider watershed define our local communities and are our tangible link to the global environment”?

Have you forgotten “our wetlands still face the pressure of urban sprawl” and that sprawl is sprawl whether it occurs within or beyond municipal boundaries?

I remind you Madame Mayor of a document you authored in 1993, entitled Overview of the Hanlon Creek Watershed Study. In it you wrote, “The City has shown intent to develop industrial land in the watershed…. If cold-water trout streams are damaged both the City as a corporation and individual councillors will be liable under the Fisheries Act.”

Madame Mayor in 1999 you e-mailed city staffer Andrew Goldie stating, “If I can find enough money I would love to put a solar powered composting toilet in one of the parks.”

What we have is embarassingly ugly, dysfunctional pissoirs in downtown parking lots.

Madame Mayor, you spoke glowingly of the importance of wetlands and what we have is the Hanlon Creek Business Park.

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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A rerun of the second hour of the wonderful Christmas Royal City Rag from December 17 featuring a singalong with Sam Turton, Jane Lewis and Monique Vischschraper, with traditional readings, Christmas trivia and poetry from Sheryl Spencer and Jan Andrea Hall. We also featured interviews with several Guelphites, including the Mayor about their plans for the holidays and hopes for 2009.

Enjoy!

The audio for this show is no longer available on the website.  If however you wish to hear it again, please contact us at info@royalcityrag.ca. Thank You.

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blogxmas2I was fortunate to be able to interview several well-known Guelphites about their holiday plans and hopes for 2009 in preparation for our December 17 Royal City Rag Holiday Special.

Unfortunately we were not able to play all the interviews on the show.

For your pleasure, we’ve decided to include all of the interviews here.

Expect to see a full interview with Annie O’Donoghue of the Guelph Civic League discussing their new space at 10 Carden St published around the turn of the year.

Happy Christmas and New Year to all from Royal City Rag!

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Sam Turton has written a Guelph version of The Twelve Days of Christmas entitled The Guelph Days of Christmas for tonight’s Holiday Special Royal City Rag that takes place between 6-8 p.m. tonight, December 17, on CFRU 93.3fm.

Sam, ably assisted by Jane Lewis and Monique Vischschraper, will be taking us through a seasonal singalong while Brian Holstein and Sya Van Geest tell some seasonal stories. We’ll also have readings by Sheryl Spencer, Christmas trivia and short interviews with individual Guelphites, including the Mayor about their plans for the holidays and hopes for 2009. Marie Zimmerman will also update your holiday event guide.
 
You don’t want to miss this.

If you’d like to join in with the Guelphs Days of Christmas, here are the words:

THE GUELPH DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

On the First day of Christmas, My true love sent to me… a Farbridge at City Hall
On the Second day of Christmas, My true love sent to me… 2 Hillsides
On the Third day of Christmas, My true love sent to me… 3 James Gordon songs
On the Fourth day of Christmas, My true love sent to me… 4 Bookshelf books
On the Fifth day of Christmas, My true love sent to me… 5 local festivals!
On the Sixth day of Christmas, My true love sent to me… 6 woofers farming
On thr Seventh day of Christmas, My true love sent to me… 7 drivers biking
On the Eighth day of Christmas, My true love sent to me… 8 hipsters dancing
On the Ninth day of Christmas, My true love sent to me… 9 artists painting
On the Tenth day of Christmas, My true love sent to me… 10 singers playing
On the Eleventh day of Christmas, My true love sent to me… 11 drummers grooving
On the Guelph day of Christmas, My true love sent to me… 12 councillors greening

It all promises to be great fun.

Listen live on CFRU 93.3fm or online at www.cfru.ca from 6- 8 p.m. Wednesday evening.

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I can’t claim to have followed this issue very closely (too busy with the federal election) however there seem to be quite a few folk out there who have followed the issue closely and are very concerned about Guelph Hydro merging with Horizon Utilities.

The issue is coming to council tonight.

From what I’ve heard those that are pro the merger (including the Mayor, who is also a member of the Guelph Hydro board) believe they have enough votes to get the merger through.

If you have concerns about the merger, please make sure you let your councillors know or get down to City Hall at 6.00 p.m. to make your voice heard.

I know this has been a long time coming to council but this is a very complicated issue. 

Personally I’d prefer council table this until after the federal general election. There are just too many doubts for me to be sure which way to go.

The following documents were put together by a group of concerned citizens whose judgement I value. If they say, that this merger may be a wrong-headed idea I’d make absolutely sure that I was clear on the issue before I vote.

Distribution Costs in Ontario

Which Graph is Correct?

I hope that council will be cautious about moving ahead. Do not be swayed just because the Mayor is voting for the merger.

This is certainly a political hot potato.

If you don’t understand the issue well enough, please vote against it.

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