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Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

HCBP: That's all folks... for now

It would seem that those rascally Hanlon Creek Business Park Occupiers got their wish after all and stopped construction on the HCBP lands, for this year anyway. After the City got Ministry of Natural Resources approval to proceed with the construction of a culvert last week, it seemed it was full speed ahead to wrap construction before we got too deep into fall.

Press Release from the City:

GUELPH, ON, September 3, 2009 – The City of Guelph has determined that it will not proceed with construction of a culvert on the Hanlon Creek Business Park site in 2009, and will instead undertake culvert construction in 2010 as part of the overall servicing work for Phase 1 of the Business Park.

The decision comes this afternoon at the conclusion of careful analysis on the part of the City as to the environmental and technical implications of undertaking the construction in the fall rather than in the summer. One month of critical summer work was lost between July 27 and August 27 as a result of a small group of protesters having occupied the site. The original work plan would have seen all in-stream work completed before August 31. That plan was thwarted when protesters halted work on the project in July.

Construction of the tributary "A" culvert is considered to have lower environmental risks in the summer when groundwater levels and stream flows are low. Construction in the fall creates the potential for greater environmental impacts when groundwater and surface water levels are generally higher. To perform the work this fall would require extensive de-watering (a process whereby the shallow water table is manually lowered) and an elaborate diversion of the stream, the first of which would require a permit to take water and both of which would be subject to a potentially lengthy approval process.

City officials have decided that deferral until 2010 is the environmentally responsible and generally more prudent route. "A handful of protesters have held our City hostage and ignored democratic processes. Regrettably, the result is a significant delay, which will ultimately cost city taxpayers," says Guelph's mayor Karen Farbridge.

The City's contractor will be on site over the next few days to remove equipment and stabilize the site.

All construction planned for 2010 will move forward without delay. The City will work with Industry Canada to secure the use of more than $621,000 in federal funding, announced today, when it resumes its work in 2010. This funding was announced as part of the country's economic stimulus package to get Canadians working, create jobs and provide a legacy of longer-term economic benefits.

It's kind of odd to hear the Mayor talk about the City being held "hostage" and the cost to taxpayers, especially given that many involved with protesting are involved in the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, also known as her old digs.

But what do the protesters themselves have to say:

We just learned from a City press release that the City is cancelling the HCBP for this year, due to losing a “critical month” of summer work. In other words, the main goal of the occupation – stopping the HCBP for this year – has been achieved! The larger goal of stopping the HCBP as a whole, has yet to be accomplished. But we have a hell of a lot more time and energy to work towards that.

Check out this article from the Mercury: Farbridge says city held ‘hostage’

Also see the City’s press release, which is basically the same: City delays culvert construction until spring (As quoted above)

Mayor Karen Farbridge also says that, “A handful of protesters have held our City hostage and ignored democratic processes.” If the Mayor had visited the site even once during the occupation, she would know that literally hundreds of people of all ages participated in the occupation, with thousands more in support.

The Mayor herself should ask how many times people must be ignored through their ‘democratic process,’ until they realize that sometimes the most effective way to create change is to take action.

Thank you so much to everyone for every single way you have helped. Let’s keep it going, and stay tuned for updates.

Good news!

This message was sent over both the "Save our Old Growth Forests" Facebook group and the "Land Is More Important Than Sprawl" group.

So there you have it, a small group of so-called radicals can really make a difference after all. My hope is that over the next couple of months, there is a serious reconsideration of proceeding with work on this site. It's plans were drawn years ago in a completely different economy. And I have yet to receive a decent counter argument as to why hundreds of acres of empty industrial space in the north end can't be converted to a new business park as opposed to digging up and paving over pristine green space.

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