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Posts Tagged ‘Scotty Hertz’

Guelph M.P. Frank Valeriote

Royal City Rag will be back on CFRU 93.3fm this coming weekend with a busy show featuring a follow up interview with Guelph M.P. Frank Valeriote (complete with his Movember moustache) and a visit from The Working Week‘s Scotty Hertz to update us on the Wood’s Site/Downtown redevelopment plan and the 2nd Canadian Labour International Film Festival taking place at the Guelph and District Labour Council, 141 Woolwich Street, (Matrix Building, Woolwich and Eramosa) on November 28 at 2.00 p.m.

Later in the show we’ll chat by phone with Linda Beaupre Conductor and Artistic Director of the Guelph Youth Singers about their annual seasonal concert This Frosty Tide at St. George’s Anglican Church on December 4 at 7.30 p.m.

As usual we’ll wrap it all up with some great music. It promises to be a great show; you won’t want to miss it!

Remember if you don’t catch Royal City Rag live, you can always pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or on this website a day or so later.

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The 2nd Canadian Labour International Film Festival will be coming to Guelph on November 28 for a special Festival-in-a box screening at the Guelph and District Labour Council, 141 Woolwich Street, (Matrix Building, Woolwich and Eramosa) starting at 2.00 p.m.

CLiFF aims to increase awareness about labour issues worldwide by screening short films about workers and the conditons under which they live in over 50 locations across Canada about workers and the conditions under which they live and work.

Twenty-two Canadian and international films have been selected for the festival, nine are Canadian, four American, two British, and one each from Australia, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Turkey and the Netherlands.

The featured films to be shown in Guelph are:

  • The Union Song (2010). A short video featuring a bluegrass song about how all members of the education community work together to keep the public school system strong (3 minutes).
    DIRECTOR: Daniel Fewings
    PRODUCER: Daniel Fewings, Canada
  • The Delano Manongs – Forgotten Heroes Of The UFW (Trailer, 2010). The story of farm labour organizer Larry Itliong and a group of Filipino farm workers who instigated one of the American farm labour movement’s finest hours – The Delano Grape Strike of 1965 that brought about the creation of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW). While the movement is known for Cesar Chavez’s leadership and considered a Chicano movement, Filipinos played a pivotal role that began it all. Filipino labour organizer, Larry Itliong, a five foot five cigar-chomping union veteran, organized a group of 1500 Filipinos to strike against the grape growers of Delano, California (6 minutes 57 seconds)
    DIRECTOR: Marissa Aroy
    PRODUCER: Niall McKay, USA
  • Neoliberalism As Water Balloon (2009).  A DIY experiment illustrating the impact of neoliberal economics on class, race and gender equality (12 minutes)
    DIRECTOR: Tim McCaskell
    PRODUCER: Richard Fung, Canada
  • Work In Progress (2009). The life of an injured worker is seen through her challenges, both personal and the bureaucratic (11 minutes 33 seconds)
    DIRECTOR: Chavisa
    PRODUCER: Chavisa, Canada
  • Special Pass (2009). A documentary about a group of foreign workers in Singapore who attempt to seek shelter and support themselves while out of work. This is the lesser-known story of foreigners who receive little support in a country that, ironically, was built by the work of immigrants (24 minutes).
    DIRECTOR: Vicknesh Varan
    PRODUCER: Rupture Films, Singapore
  • The Curious Case Of The Missing Recovery (2010). “Stanfordo” searches far and wide for answers to a mystery that continues to baffle hard-working Canadians. How can the federal government and Bank of Canada proclaim an economic recovery when hundreds of thousands of workers are still jobless, and millions are still reeling from one of the worst downturns since the Great Depression? (13 minutes 25 seconds)
    DIRECTOR: Michael Connolly
    PRODUCER: CAW, Canada
  • Silent Voices: Home-based Women Workers In Pakistan (2010). The stories of home-based women workers in Pakistan, told in a gritty and realistic style (14 minutes)
    DIRECTOR: Aisha Gazdar
    PRODUCER: Films D’Art, Pakistan/France
  • Sudden Wake (2009). The story of the struggle of Egypt’s first independent trade union – the Real Estate Tax Authority Union (RETA). RETA was formed in December 2008, one year after tax collectors there held a two-week sit-in in front of the Cabinet Building. They face constant harrassment from the Egyptian government as well as the country’s official labour federation, the ETUF.
    DIRECTOR: Mahmud Farag
    PRODUCER: Hamza Ashraf, Egypt
  • Red Dust (2010). The incredible story of resistance, courage and hope by women workers in China battling cadmium poisoning and demanding justice from the local government and their employer, a multi-national battery manufacturer (20 minutes).
    DIRECTOR: Karin T. Mak
    PRODUCER: Karin T. Mak, USA

Scotty Hertz, host of The Working Week on CFRU 93.3fm and one of the organizers of the CLiFF Guelph screening will be one of our guests on Royal City Rag during our second hour on Saturday November 27 (9-10 a.m).

Remember if you don’t catch Royal City Rag live, you can always pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or on this website a day or so later.

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CFRU 93.3fm’s Royal City Rag on July 3 focused on SLAPP suits and the proposed high rise condo development for the WC Woods site.

In the first hour we talked to environmental activist Louisette Lanteigne about her firsthand experience with a SLAPP suit, or, to give it its full name, a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation lawsuit.

No Hard Hat, No Pants, No Shirt, No Rope (Photo: Louisette Lanteigne)

According to Wikipedia, SLAPPs 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.”

SLAPPs are frequently used to stifle community resistance to controversial development projects. This recently happened in Guelph when the City of Guelph and their development partner, Belmont Equity Partners brought a $5 million lawsuit against five individuals involved in the peaceful occupation of the environmentally sensitive Hanlon Creek for 17 days last summer.

Louisette was given a SLAPP because she raised concerns about labour and environmental law infractions on a construction site within her own (new) subdivision in Waterloo. Despite appealing to her municipality and the provincial government she ended up having to apologize to the developer concerned.

Oil patches seeping into the earth (Photo: Louisette Lanteigne)

Why? Because she didn’t have the financial wherewithal to defend herself against a $2 million lawsuit brought by a developer who didn’t like the information she introduced into the public domain via a website.

The irony in all this is that she was right to bring the infractions to the attention of the municipal and provincial governments, and, for that reason, the developer was reprimanded accordingly. It seems they didn’t want the public knowing about their violation of labour and environmental law.

It’s unfortunate that unlike Quebec and 50% of US states, Ontario does not have an anti-SLAPP legislation to protect concerned citizens such as Louisette. If Ontario did have such legislation, the onus would be on the plaintiff (typically a developer or corporation) to prove that their (SLAPP) lawsuit is legitimate, rather than as it stand now where defendants must prove that it is NOT justified.

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

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

As well as pushing for new legislation, their campaign has been supported by more than 70 community groups who have written to Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty requesting to end SLAPP suits.

To add your support to a petition to stop SLAPPs please do so and  sign HERE.

The Environmental Defence have also managed to get approximately 70 municipalities to pass a resolution asking the Province to pass anti-SLAPP legislation. Unfortunately The City of Guelph, despite its green reputation, has yet to join that group.

Listen to Hour 1:

In the second hour of the show, Ward resident Scotty Hertz from CFRU 93.3fm’s The Working Week (Fridays 6-7 p.m.)  joined us in the studio to give his personal perspective on the proposed redevelopment of the WC Woods site on Arthur Street South.

WC Woods (Photo: Bob Gordon)

In February 2010, Kilmer Brownfield Equity Fund acquired the 9-acre WC Woods site and is planning to redevelop the site with a mix of high-rise, mid-rise and townhouse residential units. According to the company website, Kilmer’s plans for the site include brownfield remediation and site-planning before selling the site to one or more developers.

The city is very keen to see high density residential development on this site because it supports its plan to revitalize the downtown area while still meeting the objectives of Ontario’s Places To Grow Smart Growth intensification initiative. It will also significantly improve the city’s tax base.

For these reasons, the WC Woods site was moved into the downtown four years ago so that it could become part of Guelph’s Community Improvement Plan (CIP) area and therefore eligible for a variety of financial incentives to assist in its redevelopment.

This was one of the things that made it very attractive to Kilmer who are are looking to make this site as profitable as possible with a quick return on their investment.

Interestingly The Kilmer Group, parent of the four year old Kilmer Brownfields Equity Fund, has significant interests in Toronto’s major sports franchises including the Maple Leafs . The Kilmer group is also part of the really sweet deal from the Ontario government to makeover the 401 rest stops at taxpayer’s expense. A venture that will make $9 billion for the companies involved in 50 years it takes the Ontario taxpayer to get its $200 million (two thirds cost of renovation) investment back!

The local community only caught wind of the full extent of the residential development proposal when the city started their Downtown Secondary Plan meetings in March this year. By then the property had been sold and the new owner given $10,000 in incentives through Guelph’s brownfield strategy and a three year tax break (worth slightly more than $700,000) while remediation takes place.

Since then the city has held several meetings with the local community to discuss the project including, most recently, a workshop on June 29.

Although the city indicated that they were willing to listen to the community regarding plans for the site, at the last meeting, the Guelph Mercury, in an article bluntly titled “Get Ready For High-Rise Developments,  Consultant Tells Weary Neighbours”,  reported that Tim Smith from city consultants Urban Strategies told the community… that the Arthur Street site is zoned for approximately 500 to 550 units.

“While the final number remains unknown”, the consultant said, “that’s the ballpark.”

…that is the number required to meet provincially-mandated growth targets “but also to make the project feasible” for the landowner.

The Guelph Mercury also reported that the site… is zoned for high-density residential, but currently has a restriction capping buildings on the site to six storeys.

So where do things stand on this development? If you listen to the consultants, city planners and the developer you’d say that this is a done deal; the high rises are coming.

In fact David de Groot, an urban designer and manager of the Downtown Secondary Plan project tried to put a positive spin on a high rise development by noting…

if buildings are built higher it allows more green space to be created at street level.

De Groot has also said the Downtown Secondary Plan should be completed by the end of July, with another public session in late August or early September to discuss the “built form” to be located on the site. This is even though the final approval for the site has been postponed until after the next election in October.

So what do you do if you are unhappy with the plans for this development?

First up, you should  join the Ward Residents Association and second, as its an election year, you really need to get involved in the political process.

The least satisfactory aspect of this development proposal is the way that the Woods site conveniently and quietly finds its way into the downtown in time for this deal to go through. Yet again, the developer seems to get what they want.

Its also well-known that developers get great access at City Hall. Its time that gets redressed.

Hopefully the next city council will find time to deal with some accountability and transparency measures including a lobby register, something that was conveniently put aside this time around.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know who’s schmoozing who at City Hall?

Listen to Hour 2:

Music:
Paulo Nutini, 10/10 from Sunnyside Up
Finlay Quaye, Your Love Gets Sweeter from Maverick A Strike
Jimmy Cliff, Hard Road To Travel from The Ultimate Collection
Gypsy Kings, A Mi Manera (My Way) from Gypsy Kings
The Acorn, Misplaced from No Ghost
Roky Erickson and Okkervil River, Goodbye Sweet Dreams from True Love Cast Out All Evil
Merle Haggard, Big City from 16 Biggest Hits
Thunderclap Newman, Something In the Air from Hollywood Dream

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CFRU 93.3fm’s Royal City Rag on July 3 will focus on two serious issues in relation to growth and development.

In the first hour (8-9 a.m.) we’ll be focusing on Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation lawsuits or SLAPPs. According to Wikipedia, SLAPPs 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.”

SLAPPs are often used to stifle community resistance to controversial development projects. This was recently seen in Guelph when the City of Guelph and their development partner, Belmont Equity Partners brought a $5 million lawsuit against five individuals involved in the peaceful occupation of the environmentally sensitive Hanlon Creek for 17 days last summer.

Louisette Lanteigne, an environmental activist from Waterloo, has experienced a SLAPP suit first hand. Louisette, who specializes in issues related to planning and groundwater protection, will speak to her personal experience as a $2 million SLAPP suit defendant, talk about what you can do to protect yourself from being SLAPPed and what you should do and not do when you are SLAPPED.

Using the Environmental Bill of Rights, Louisette secured a review of the Waterloo Moraine in an effort to secure a Waterloo Moraine Protection Act. More recently she completed an Ontario Municipal Board process that secured new studies to protect groundwater and surface water features in regards to three subdivision proposals. Her work has been reviewed by various ministry officials and is now being used to help establish new provincial and federal water policy initiatives.

Louisette never planned on being an activist but became one after witnessing numerous environmental and labour law infringements in her own subdivision over 10 years ago. She tried to go to provincial government ministries for help but ended up getting sued for 2 million dollars! That is when she learned what a SLAPP lawsuit is all about.

According to environmental protection organization 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!

Downtown's Big Dreams... 16 Floor Condos on the WC Woods Site

In the second hour of the show (9-10 a.m.) we’ll be following up on the proposed high-rise condo development planned for the WC Woods site 1 at the corner of Arthur Street South and Elizabeth St.

In February 2010, Kilmer Brownfield Equity Fund acquired the 9-acre site and is planning to redevelop the site with a mix of high-rise, mid-rise and townhouse residential units.

The site is important to the City of Guelph as it supports its plan to revitalize the downtown area while still meeting the objectives of Ontario’s Places To Grow Smart Growth intensification initiatives. The site (in Ward 1) but now also included within Guelph’s Community Improvement Plan (CIP) area is eligible for various financial incentives to assist in its redevelopment.

Kilmer’s plans for the site will include brownfield remediation and site-planning before selling the site to one or more developers.

The local community only caught wind of the extent of the residential development proposal when the city started to move forward with the Downtown Secondary Plan in March this year.

Since then several community meetings have taken place including a community workshop at the Sacred Heart Gym,  98 Alice St. this past Tuesday June 29.

Although the city indicated that they were willing to listen to the community regarding plans for the site, the Guelph Mercury, in an article bluntly titled “Get Ready For High-Rise Developments,  Consultant Tells Weary Neighbours”,  reported that Tim Smith from city consultants Urban Strategies told the community at the end of the last meeting… that the Arthur Street site is zoned for approximately 500 to 550 units.

“While the final number remains unknown”, the consultant said, “that’s the ballpark.”

Smith told those gathered for the session at Sacred Heart School that is the number required to meet provincially-mandated growth targets “but also to make the project feasible” for the landowner.

The Guelph Mercury also reported… it is zoned for high-density residential, but currently has a restriction capping buildings on the site to six storeys. Residents became alarmed earlier this year when a draft of the Downtown Secondary Plan contained a conceptual drawing depicting a series of high-rise buildings on the site.

David de Groot, an urban designer and manager of the Downtown Secondary Plan project, noted if buildings are built higher it allows more green space to be created at street level.

De Groot said the Downtown Secondary Plan should be completed by the end of July, but another public session will be organized in late August or early September to discuss the “built form” to be located on the site.

Scotty Hertz of CFRU 93.3fm’s The Working Week has been following the development proposal and will be joining us in the studio to give us his personal perspective. Scotty doesn’t pull his punches. Should be a great discussion!

As usual we’ll wrap it all up with a great mix of cool music. A great way to start your Saturday. You won’t want to miss it!

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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