About the Blog:

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mulling Willow West Mall

As I've noted before, in all the development talk in the City, there's not a lot of discussion about redeveloping already developed areas of Guelph for new commercial and industrial purposes. On the one hand that could mean brownfield development, which did actually get some play in the election, and on the other hand there's properties like Willow West Mall.
WWM is the ignored older step child of the two mall kids in our town. It was the first, and all the parenting skills were tested on it, and the lessons there in gathered were put to better use when dad remarried and his second wife gave birth to Stone Road Mall. Allegory aside, WWM is a victim of not just disinterest, but location. In the years since of its construction, the area around Willow West Mall has become a, shall we say, less-advantaged area of the city. The area isn't thought of well, and indeed, the area does seem to show the signs of being one of the poorer areas of the City.
Let me say though, that these are my own empirical observations as someone who lives in the area. Willow Road is not South Central and is, in some respects, very pleasant. That being said, the stretch of Willow between Silvercreek and Edinburgh has become the repository for a lot of low-income people in the City. By this standard, the coming improvements to Willow West Mall could be seen as an act of gentrification. Zellers, the former southend anchor of WWM, a store that sold a variety of low cost goods, is being replaced by a furniture store, Leon's. It was pointed out by Maggie Laidlaw in a debate during the election, this is a move that's not going to mean a lot to the people in the immediate area of Willow West Mall who could easily take advantage of Zellers and its low cost goods, but no longer can't. 
 It's a fair question, but there is the other thing to consider: that for pretty much the last decade, Willow West Mall has sat in a near constant state of half-capicity. Something had to be done and that something was a long time in coming. Leon's, yeah, not a great fit for the area, but will it attract consumers from around Guelph to the area? Absolutely. It was also reported in the Guelph Mercury this past summer that Giant Tiger would be joining the mall's new development, and thus might adequitely fill the demand for a discount retailer in the area. No Frills will also remain, as will Dollar Giant, but need for grocery and dollar stores aren't at a loss in the Willow West area.
Certainly, the West End is better set up, in general for commercial accomedation than, let's say, the southern most and eastern most sections of the City, but this isn't about that. In the case of the renovations of Willow West Mall, it's going to have to do a lot of different things. It's going to have to continue to service the people of the area while trying to find away to attract shoppers from other parts of the City and offer them something that they can't get in other commercial areas of Guelph. It'll be interesting to see the end result, and what affect these changes will have on the area.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Request Denied: Transit Hub a go as is

Rough night for Bob Bell at city council last night, of course he hasn't really done a lot to ingratiate himself lately either. I'm not saying that telling the local newspaper that you "stopped believing everything that was written in staff reports years ago,” is a terrible way to start a new four-year term at City Hall, but if I were Bell I'd hire a flunky to start his car in the morning... 
Mayor Karen Farbridge did give Bell a bit of a tongue lashing right off the bat by telling Bell that she would censure him if he should step over the line. And then Bell almost stepped over the line by trying to explain that “there are times when the information is not accurate or is misleading and …” Yikes. Good thing it's a season of peace, am I right?
Joking aside, Bell's motion was serious: a reconsideration of the design of the Transit Hub. I hold true to my opinion that if this was any other construction project, a motion of reconsideration would have never been brought to council in the first place. In watching the Council meeting on Rogers last night, I was thinking more and more about how much improvement transit has been granted in the last 10 years. And while the cost of a bus ride has gone up by a dollar in the last decade, we've still only got the same 15 some-odd bus routes that we've always had. Combined with the yo-yo-like scheduling of 30 minutes / 40 minutes / 20 minutes / no 20 minutes in the summer, it's hard to believe that the PTB's give much of a damn about transit in the city. But I digress...
Anyway, the meeting seemed to be filled with confusion and points of order as some of the councillors, at times, didn't seem entirely sure what the parameters of the discussion is. Still, Chief administrator Hans Loewig presented a list of reasons why delaying the construction for a design reconsideration could be detrimental, including backlash from partners on the project. New Ward 1 Councillor Jim Furfaro seconded Bell's motion to re-open the issue on the basis of his ward-mate's passion on the issue, and because it might do new councillors well to take a fresh look at the issue seeing as how they will now "take ownership" of the project. Ultimately though, council voted to deny the motion with only Bell, Furfaro, Gloria Kovach, and Andy Van Hellemond voting in favour of re-opening the issue.
So now the question is, after the ISF funding deadline extension and Bell's motion, what will threaten the Transit Hub next?

Another "What's the Deal With...?" Moment.

I'm a journalist and ergo naturally curious. So I offer the following: The Fountain Pen.

Though it's billed as "Guelph's On-line Newspaper," there's actually precious little news. Actually, make that recent news. At least outside a twice weekly police blotter and the recent municipal election results. Other than those two things, the most recent item I can find is from June 2008 in the "About Town" section. Still, the  website seems to get updated by someone, and any e-mails to the editor's address don't bounce back, so what's the story?
I honestly don't have an answer. Like I said, it's a bit of curiosity that pre-occupied my mind lately. I think having an on-line newspaper for the City would be a great idea, and I'd love to see a more active Fountain Pen pop back on the radar. If there's one thing that doing Politico has taught me is that there's always room for more thoughtful insight and discussion into the goings on in our City. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas at the Farmers' Market (Sort of)

I give the City credit, despite the zaniness of the situation, the Farmers' Market relocation to the City Hall seems to have been well received by patrons and many of the vendors. So with some degree of stability for the Market now secure, there comes this news:

GUELPH, ON, December 17, 2010 – There will be a special holiday Farmers' Market in the market's temporary location in City Hall Thursday, 1 Carden Street, December 23 from 6 to 10 p.m.
The holiday market replaces regular market day on Saturday, December 25.
Shoppers can buy fresh, local food and produce direct from growers, and pick up special, handmade gift items for the holidays. Seasonal entertainment will be on hand, helping create a festive atmosphere.
Parking for the special holiday market is available in the Wilson and Fountain Street lots, and in front of City Hall on Carden Street.
The Farmers' Market will be closed on Christmas day (December 25) and New Year's Day (January 1.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting a Jump Start on Your New Year's Resolution (The Smoking One)

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is teaming up with the Ministry of Health to offer Guelphites (and other Ontarians) the opportunity to get a bit of help with that whole quit smoking thing. Not an easy task, but certainly one made a bit easier with nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which is being offered for free by the STOP (Smoking Treatment for Ontario Patients) Program. Check out the below press release from the Guelph Family Health Team.

For Immediate Release – Dec 15th, 2010 (Toronto) – Guelph residents and other Ontarians who want to quit smoking can take advantage of the counseling support and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), provided to them free of charge by the STOP program. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in partnership with the Ministry of Health Promotion is collaborating with the Guelph Family Health Team to roll out the STOP (Smoking Treatment for Ontario Patients) Program, an initiative that aims to reduce tobacco smoking in the province by increasing the use of effective smoking cessation medication and other resources.
“Sometimes people are reluctant to quit smoking because of the cost of NRT. With our program we eliminate the barrier to treatment and enable people to begin the quitting process so they may be able to prevent the onset of serious illnesses brought on by smoking,” said Dr. Peter Selby, Clinical Director of Addiction Programs, CAMH and Principal Investigator of the STOP Study. “In addition to eliminating cost, this project will allow us to help people along in the process and monitor which quitting methods are most effective. This way, we will be able to better treat people in the future,” he said.
In addition to providing NRT, STOP will offer educational material to encourage the program participants to make broader changes that can improve their health even more, because often smoking does not occur in isolation, but rather accompanies other risk factors for disease, such as poor nutrition and lack of physical activity.
"Smokers who are ready to quit smoking frequently need support, and we are ensuring that they have access to effective support to help them along the way. That is why the McGuinty government has made unprecedented investments to improve access to smoking cessation resources for Ontarians who are ready to quit," says Minister of Health Promotion Margarett Best.
"There are more choices than ever for smokers who want to quit and we are prepared to help them." said Ross Kirkconnell, Executive Director, Guelph Family Health Team. "We are happy to be partnering with CAMH and the Ministry of Health Promotion in giving the people of Guelph a chance to quit smoking" Those interested in participating in the STOP program may do so by attending a STOP workshop, to be held in Guelph on January 14th 2011. To see if eligible to participate and to register for the workshop call Sarah Micks at 519-840-1962 x 351.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s leading addiction and mental health teaching hospital. Integrating clinical care, scientific research, education, policy development and health promotion, CAMH transforms the lives of people impacted by mental health and addiction issues.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Film Liaison Post Filled

The Guelph Mercury reported on the weekend that after an internal competition someone has been selected to serve in the Film Liaison position vacated by Jennifer Peleschak earlier this fall. 
For a while there, those of us in the local filmmaking community had some concern that the city was going to leave the position vacant. Of course, Film Liaison Officer wasn't Peleschak's official position in City Hall, it was something she took up when the City started getting inquiries about shooting films, TV projects and commercials in Guelph. Jen was uniquely qualified for the post because she genuinely loves film and was supportive of all productions, from big international projects like Blindness to local indies like Mind's Eye. So I happily welcome our new Film Liaison, Christine Chapman, and say that as a filmmaker in Guelph, I look forward to working with her.
On a political (or Politico) note, I'm glad to see that the City is taking the position seriously. To say that me and others in the filmmaking community were worried was a bit of understatement because in the wake of an information vacuum from the City it seemed that the position was going to go unfilled. Despite assertions made in the election to the contrary, I've continued to wonder just how seriously City Hall takes the arts heritage and community they love to tout. Last week, I was at The Museum in Kitchener to hear Titanic and Avatar producer Jon Landau give a talk. The Museum is home right now to "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit" and Landau is one of a number of high profile guests (though he may be the profile that's highest). 
Basically, there's a feeling that Kitchener gets "it" more than Guelph right now. The Museum in downtown Kitchener is hosting big exhibits and Oscar-winning film producers, while in Guelph you've got a lot of people debating the wisdom of spending money to create a museum downtown. There's a genuine concern out there that Guelph is losing some of its lustre as a cultural centre. I hope appointing a new Film Liaison Officer is a good first step.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Fantino Paradox

I know the Federal Conservatives are quite proud of themselves. Not only did they wrestle the Vaughan, ON seat owned by the Liberals for 22 years away from the Grits, but that new Conservative MP also happened to be the former Toronto Police Chief, former OPP Commish, and all around, take no guff law man Julian Fantino. Getting Fantino as a candidate, let alone as a rookie MP, was quite the coup for the Conservatives since to many Fantino is both well-known and well-liked. So it was only a matter of time until the claws came out...
During a CBC interview following his election, Fantino said of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that "In some cases, the Charter has been exploited and the rulings that have followed have, in fact, benefited some criminals, absolutely [...] The Supreme Court of Canada and other court rulings are trying to change some of the misinterpretations that have been given as to the reason, the purpose, and the mechanisms of the Charter."
This propmpted Justin Trudeau to jump on the bait (and justifiably so given the fact that the Charter is arguably his father's greatest legacy) saying "Once you become a representative of the people and you are not a cop any more... you have to start thinking about everyone's rights and freedoms. And sometimes that means thinking about the rights of some people you don't particularly like," said Trudeau. "That's the strength of our Charter; that's the strength of Canada as a country."
Fantino wasn't going to take that lying down, and retorted, “You know what, here’s me with 42 years of working night shifts and facing people with loaded guns and dealing with murderers and rapists... and I get a lecture from a newbie. C’mon.”
Actually Mr. Fantino, I think you're the newbie in the House of Commons. Unless, of course, you mean that Trudeau is a newbie at "facing people with loaded guns and dealing with murderers and rapists" then yeah, Trudeau's a "newbie." Whatever that means.
I do think what he does mean however, and it's right there in a piece of alliteration that would make Karl Rove proud, is that Trudeau was "promoting the hug-a-thug philosophy." Meaning that trying an accused criminal as per the laws and procedures recognized by the Criminal Code of Canada and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is for pinko bike riders, to borrow a euphemism from another Conservative Nobel laureate in the making. Who cares if he's cut his public policy chops on Hockey Night in Canada.
Yes, more often than not, in the conservative school of thought, protecting rights is synonymous with "soft on crime." It's part of a culture that's been perpetuated with help from shows like "Law & Order", that all defendants are guilty and all the lawyers that represent them are greedy/ambulance chasers/fame hungry/self-promoting/criminal themselves/all the above. Unfortunately, that way of thinking discounts the fact that in our system of justice, the onus is on the state to prove guilt, not on the defense to prove innocence.
And while you can salute someone for their public service, like Fantino's four decade-plus tenure in various police services across Ontario, "The Chief" is hardly incorruptible. Let alone the recent questions about unaccounted for $8.4 million from the OPP's G8/G20 responsibilities, from illegal wiretaps to being accused of homophobia to the Shawn Brant controversy, if Fantino had run as a Liberal, the Conservative tar and feather machine wouldn't have let him out alive. And while we're on the subject, though I'm sure the Liberals had put in some phone calls to court the province's former top cop, was one of the police chiefs that's spoken out so strongly against the long gun registry going to sign up with the party that whipped its own members into supporting it? I hardly think so.
Bottom line, many of my Conservative friends are seeing Fantino's sweep in Vaughan as a sign of improving Conservative fortunes nationally. Of course, many note that Fantino's election is a better sign that name cache still trumps more traditional forms of campaigning, like showing up to debates:

But seriously, there were two other by-elections on November 29th, the one in Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette stayed Conservative, while Winnipeg North saw Liberal Kevin Lamoureux take the riding for his team after 13 years of representation by NDP MP  Judy Wasylycia-Leis. In other words, in terms of federal politics, the country just as schizophrenic as it ever was. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Renege and Renewal

It seems that the foyer of City Hall is more spacious than originally thought. According to the City, the Farmers' Market will he held entirely indoors at City Hall, and along with that is news that meat vendors will be able to sell frozen meat, which is, at least, a step up from not being able to sell any meat at all. Here's the latest from the City:
GUELPH, ON, December 9, 2010 – Most Farmers' Market vendors—including many meat and all produce vendors—will be able to sell their products in City Hall while roof repairs are undertaken to the market building at the corner of Gordon Street and Waterloo Avenue.
This update comes after more work by City staff to keep the market under one roof and accommodate as many vendors as possible during a temporary shut-down of the market building, and after the City announced Tuesday it would accommodate craft vendors within City Hall and produce vendors in the Wilson Street parking lot.
"Yesterday afternoon the Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health Unit confirmed that meat vendors can sell from within City Hall as long as they meet certain requirements," says Derek McCaughan, the City's Executive Director, Operations & Transit. "This means we'll be able to accommodate many meat vendors and all produce vendors within City Hall rather than excluding them or having them sell from the Wilson Street parking lot."
Raw meat vendors will still be able to come to market and sell their product provided it's frozen or pre-packaged, which would make it compliant with health regulations. "This was well-received by some of the market's meat vendors," said McCaughan.
To accommodate more than 70 vendors, the City is making all of its ground floor meeting rooms available, along with the lobby of City Hall.
The City only learned of the extent of the risk associated with continuing to operate the Farmers' Market from its original building last Wednesday, creating an urgent need to relocate the market. City staff has been working diligently ever since to find a solution that would allow the market to continue to operate in an alternate location.
The Guelph Farmers' Market will be open and operating from within City Hall every Saturday beginning this week until repairs to the market building’s roof are complete.
The City continues to liaise with market vendors to inform them of changing information and provide details about the transition.
Repairs to the market building’s roof are expected to take eight to ten weeks.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Well, You Can't Say That They Didn't Fix the Problem (or can you?)

The City continued to struggle this morning, trying to find a new location for the Farmers' Market after some dusty old bus barn was, surprisingly, declared unsuitable for the weekly market. And since, apparently, the roof of the Market will collapse if you even breathe on it wrong, a new location was desperately needed. Ask and ye shall receive, but only so long as you don't look a gift horse in the mouth in this case.
You can read the full press release below, but in brief it says that arts & crafts vendors will get City Hall, while vendors selling produce will be set up across the street in the Wilson Street Parking Lot. Vendors requiring hot or cold water are out of luck, and I can't imagine that anybody selling meat and cheese is going to be able to accommodated either. And while were at it, how are the people setting up in the Wilson St. parking lot supposed to feel about this arrangement. Nothing like frostbitten fruits and veggies, am I right?
Is this seriously the best possible solution? I know time's of the essence here, but no one at City Hall could maybe take an extra day and think of something better than this? 
At the same time, there are still a number of outstanding questions about why the roof on the Farmer's Market building was allowed to get to such a horrible state of decay. An article in today's Mercury offered little in the way of new information from the City, and even the man in charge seemed to not know a lot about what was going on. “Right now people want answers that are not available. And they’re getting anxious that they don’t know what’s happening, and I understand that,” said executive director of operations and transit, Derek McCaughan.
In the vacuum of actual information, speculation and threats are trying to fill the void. A post to the Mercury's 59 Carden St blog posited a conspiracy theory that the Farmers' Market is being pushed out by the City, and in this morning's Mercury article it seems like that's going to happen pretty eventually as some vendors are talking about not coming back to the Farmers' Market building when it reopens.  
There are so many questions and not enough answers, and the answers being given are utterly unsatisfactory.

GUELPH, ON, December 7, 2010 – The Guelph Farmers' Market building at the corner of Gordon Street and Waterloo Avenue is now closed until repairs to its roof are complete.
Public safety continues to be of paramount importance to the City of Guelph. Based on a recent structural assessment of the building, the City of Guelph—which owns the farmers’ market facility—is of the opinion there is sufficient engineering evidence and professional advice to warrant closing the building in the interest of public safety.
Arts and craft vendors will be invited to relocate to the lobby of City Hall, and produce vendors will relocate to the Wilson Street parking lot. Unfortunately, vendors who require hot and cold water for the operation of their booth cannot be accommodated at either location. The City will be meeting with these vendors as soon as possible.
The Guelph Farmers' Market will be open and operating at these two locations every Saturday until repairs to the market building’s roof are complete. Free two-hour parking will be maintained in the Wilson Street lot.
The City is in the process of contacting each market vendor to inform them of the new location and provide details about the transition.
Repairs to the market building’s roof are expected to take eight to ten weeks.
The City of Guelph encourages the community to continue to support farmers’ market vendors during this time of transition.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Welcome to the New Council (Sort of like the Old Council)

You know it’s a special night at council when they’re passing out programs. The house was about 60 per cent packed as the clock tolled seven ‘o’ clock and city clerk Lois Giles called every to attention for the procession. The city councillors and Mayor came in single file led by a piper and representatives from Guelph-Wellington EMS and Guelph Police.
As everyone took their new spot along the horseshoe, I wondered how they assigned seating as it made very little sense to me. (I did however note that the four new councillors sat two and two on each end of the horseshoe.) But the order of the night was fairly routine, and straight-forward. Giles administered the Oath of Office to Mayor Karen Farbridge, and then administered the Oath of Office to all 12 councillors at the same time. After a round of handshakes and, in some cases, hugs, the meeting was turned over to the Mayor so that she could deliver her inaugural address.
"In this last election, I received a strong mandate from our community to attract jobs; protect the environment; build strong neighbourhoods; and to put people first at City Hall,” said Farbridge. “This builds upon the good work of previous terms of Council and will frame the City’s agenda for the next four years.
“Ten years ago, this concept of the ‘triple bottom line’ was new and might have been viewed as a barrier to business development. Today it is recognized as simply good business. It is the way we conduct the City’s business and it has become our strategic advantage as a community.”
Addressing the new city council, Farbridge said that their job is clear – more jobs, better environmental stewardship, and strong neighbourhoods. “We will deliver these results – and put people first at City Hall – by demonstrating good leadership, sound strategic direction, and consistent oversight,” she added.
Farbridge also took the opportunity to salute Chief Administrative Officer Hans Loewig who will be retiring in 2012.
Farbridge also talked about improving strategic planning, improve oversight at City Hall and to deliver better results to City stakeholders. “I would like to issue a challenge to my colleagues tonight,” Farbridge declared, “to have Guelph set a new standard for municipal governance in Ontario.”
Along with the accountability theme, Farbridge talked about an “internal audit function reporting” to ensure that taxpayers are getting value for dollar, while the Council’s Governance Committee will be tasked with creating a “performance measurement and reporting framework” which will make sure there’s accountability and transparency in the delivery of services.
As well, Farbridge says that this council will tackle a frequent criticism: communication. “The people we serve want to see integrity in the way we do our business,” she said. “They want to know that everything we do is in their best interests. They want to have confidence that we are up to the job. And they want results."
During her address, Farbridge also touched on economic development, environmental sustainability and meeting the “social needs” of Guelph’s more vulnerable citizens – seniors, children, people with disabilities and those living in poverty. “The Community Wellness Plan will provide an overarching community vision and set of guiding principles to facilitate the more effective allocation of resources to make a lasting difference in the lives of people in Guelph,” Farbridge says. “We all have a role to play and each of us needs to understand how best we can make a difference.”
Additionally, Farbridge says that it will be up to council to respond to issues in an immediate manner, and cited the recent troubles with the roof on the Farmers’ Market as a positive example. “The effectiveness of our response to an immediate issue is important but so too is our ability to identify the longer term opportunity for community building.”
To wrap, Farbridge said that it will be up to council to manage the increase of growth in Guelph in the next few years and prepare the 50,000 new people that will be moving here in the next 20 years. “That will require a willingness to step out of old ways of doing business,” she summated. “It will be a challenge, but it is one that I know we can meet with intelligence, integrity, resolve and the commitment to community building that motivates us all.”
You can read the full text of the Mayor's inaugural address here.

Tranist Hub Bub and Such

Last week's news that stimulus funds from the Provincial and Federal governments will not be revoked on March 31st, 2011 and, in fact, the City of Guelph has until October 2011 to finish off all ongoing infrastructure projects, up to and including the Transit Hub being built along Carden, was well received. 
It was especially a sweet sigh of relief for all of us looking forward to one-stop transit shopping and the simple joy of being able to jump from city bus to out-of-town bus or train. Others though, sigh in relief for other reasons.
The week before, it was reported that Ward 1 Councillor Bob Bell was going to ask his colleagues at tonight's newly inaugurated city council to take another look at the Transit Hub's design. From the Guelph Mercury:
"Bell has prepared a sketch of what the terminal could look like. It would keep Carden Street open to cars in both directions, maintain some green space and see the old Greyhound building reused as a bus depot with public washrooms." 
How would he open the street to two-way traffic again? 
"Bell’s design would have 18 bus bays, rather than the 22 envisioned in the current proposal. But Bell argues those additional four bays are not required on Carden Street and could be accommodated along the Gordon/Norfolk streets corridor."
What about this makes the least sense? Not taking into account the growth of transit use, or creating an "all-in-one" transit" stop where 19 per cent of the bus connections is a five-minute, three block walk up the road? 
And since when can council rethink the design of a capital project mid-construction? After all, wasn't that the argument against stopping construction on the Hanlon Creek Business Park, no matter the reason presented be it protection of habitat or necessity of a big business park when so much land in the City goes unused? The shovels are in the ground! It's too late to go back to the drawing board now.
I wonder how Bell's motion will be received. I hope that it will get a resounding "Thanks, but no thanks..." Palin-esque put down, but I'm far too cynical about how this city treats transit to think that's likely. I don't think a redesign is as simple as throwing out the official plans for Bell's "sketch" and it certainly would delay the project further than the October deadline for stimulus funds. And it should be pointed out that this is the only infrastructure project that has been talked about being "rethought", and this considering the constant state of complaint about the construction on a cross-city basis. 
Would talk of a Transit Hub redeisgn be coming forward at council tonight if it wasn't the Transit Hub? I'm not so sure. Either way, I'll be there.

Death of a Legend (And his Voice)

It's hard to imagine CityTV Toronto without the voice of anchor Mark Dailey, whether it came from the assignment desk, the anchor desk or the bumpers between station programming, but now it looks like we'll have to...
Well known TV personality Dailey passed away today after a long struggle with cancer. He had survived a previous bout of prostate cancer, but this past fall he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Last week, Craig Fee of Kitchener's 107.5 DAVE FM wrote on his blog that Dailey had gone into a coma after the cancer had spread to his lungs, which is now followed by the news of the journalist's passing just a short while ago.
If there was ever a news anchor truly worthy of the title "TV personality" it was Mark Dailey. His distinct voice and occasionally sardonic oratory style made him a favourite for many. And he was so well known for those golden pipes of his that he was occasionally only referred to as "The Voice", and once more you knew who they meant.
Along with his marathon man-like 36 years on CityTV, Dailey lent his voice to animated series like Medabots, The Ripping Friends and Beyblade and appeared in movies like Boozecan, Childstar and Spliced. However, he did not contribute the "Subdivisions" line to the Rush song of the same name, despite years of rumours and denials to that effect.
Sadly, the death of Dailey isn't just the loss of a great newsman, but also a sign of the times. CityTV just hasn't been the same since it was picked up by Rogers after the empire Moses Znaimer built was taken and fragmented in the buy out by CTVglobemedia. CityTV was hit hard by the economic crisis and lost a number of its talented staff members and had to cancel some of its original programming, but through it all, there was still "The Voice." And now, even that too is gone.
Condolences and good wishes go out to Dailey's wife and daughter in this sad time.

Campaign Promise Achieved

Cam Guthrie's ahead of the game by fulfilling one campaign promise before he's even officially sworn in to City Council (which would be tonight by the way) with the launch of his Ward 4 News blog, which will keep his constituents up to date on goings on and issues in his Ward and the City of Guelph. Additionally, Guthrie has started a Facebook group called "Ward 4 Guelph".
I'm not sure if it's Guthrie's goal or not, but his dedication to creating this new blog seems to me like he's trying to create the kind of interactivity with his constituents that's on par with Ian Findlay's Ward 2 Blog. Is it too soon to call an inter-ward blog war? I don't think so.

Farmer's Market on (Temporary) Move

If you're one of numerous Guelphites that take advantage of the Farmers' Market every Saturday morning, you're going to have to factor in additional travel time for the next 8-10 weeks. That's the time it will take for the city to make appropriate repairs to the roof of the building that currently houses the Market. But the question is, where can people go to get their farm fresh meat and produce directly from the farmers for the next two months or more?
Well, pending health inspections and approvals, the Farmers' Market looks likely to be moving to an old bus barn on Municipal St. 12 Municipal St. to be exact. Of course, as Derek McCaughan, the city’s director of operations and transit pointed out at a meeting with Farmer's Market vendors on Saturday, “This could all fall apart at the 11th hour.”
 If you read the Guelph Mercury article in today's paper, you might get the impression that the City doesn't seem too "with it" in regards to the very serious issue of the Market's building's safety. Moreover, it seemed to come as surprise to everyone that a change of venue was coming, and a logistical nightmare for some of the vendors who have to, let's say, move their heavy and expensive refrigeration units and then have to move them back in a couple of months. 
My question is why wasn't this discovered before winter set in and after the first snow had already fallen. If even a couple of centimetres of snow is all it takes to bring down the proverbial house of cards, isn't that the kind of structural flaw that would have showed up long before December. I seem to remember getting a lot of rain this fall. Nothing? 
Anyway, if the City's plan (such as it is) goes forward, the Farmers' Market will be at 12 Municipal this Saturday. Here's a map:

View Larger Map

Seems kind of far, doesn't it? Not to worry, because the City is apparently going to provide shuttle buses. Not to be one of those guys, but honestly, how is that going to affect the bottom line?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Deadline Extended on Guelph Remastered

Depending on where you sit, the idea that the City of Guelph will have a whole other construction season through which it can finish infrastructure projects is either pleasant news or painful. I, naturally, side on the side of pleasant because work on the Transit Hub amounts to more or less destroying the corner of Wyndham and Carden at the moment. Here's the City's Press Release:
GUELPH, ON, December 3, 2010 – Yesterday, the Government of Canada announced that it would extend the deadline for projects being funded by Infrastructure Stimulus Funds and Recreational Infrastructure funds to October 31, 2011.
The City of Guelph is investing $23.5 million and was awarded up to $44.4 million in federal and provincial Infrastructure Stimulus funds, and $3.6 million in recreational infrastructure funding to complete over 25 projects on buildings, roads, sewers and water systems as part of Guelph Remastered.
Under the terms of the original funding agreements, all projects were to be complete by March 31, 2011.
"This extension is great news for Guelph," says Rick Henry, City Engineer. "Both the inter-modal transit terminal and the CN Rail bridge replacement projects were facing some complications, and this extension will give us the time we need to resolve those issues and proceed accordingly."
Earlier this fall, the City contacted the Government of Canada in the hopes of obtaining an extension to the funding deadline for the inter-modal transit terminal and CN rail bridge replacement projects. The extension is most welcome as the City co-ordinates agreements between GO Transit, Greyhound Coach Lines, VIA Rail, Rail America, and Goderich Exeter Railway.
All other projects are on schedule to be complete by the end of March but some finishing work may be completed in the spring so the City can take advantage of warmer weather.
"Everyone will be glad to hear that our road reconstruction projects are wrapping up and roads will be paved and open for the winter," adds Henry. "Work will continue on the transit terminal and the CN Rail bridge replacement throughout the winter, but the work won’t be as disruptive as it has been this summer."
The new October 31 deadline of applies to projects already approved for Federal or Provincial Infrastructure Stimulus funding that have incurred eligible costs before March 31, 2011.

And hey, has everybody that follows the City's Twitter feed noticed that the 'G' is wearing a jaunty Santa hat for the holiday season. Sweet. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

50 Reasons to Be Pretty Damn Euphoric You Live in Guelph

 Welcome back to the Politico show everybody. To celebrate – so to speak – I’ve decided to take a cue for The Village Voice and concoct a list: 50 Reasons to Be Pretty Damn Euphoric You Live in Guelph. In some ways, politics bring out the worst in us, and before the new council starts up again, I thought it might be fun to take a moment and remember some of the reasons why we’ve all made this place home. So here are the 50 reasons in no particular order:
  1. The Hillside Festival
  2. Ed Video Media Arts Centre – Guelph’s only artist-run centre
  3. McCrae House – Museum based in the birth house of “In Flanders’ Fields” author Col. John McCrae
  4. The University of Guelph – Inventor of the Yukon Gold potato. Keeper of the largest archive of material by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  5. Neve Campbell was born here
  6. Robert Munsch makes his home here (and sometimes reads from his books to local audiences)
  7. Canoe rentals at the Boathouse in the summer
  8. The Albion Hotel – According to legend, Al Capone’s favourite watering hole when he was in Guelph, and supposedly his lady friend from Guelph still haunts the place. Also, $5 burgers on Mondays.
  9. Old Jeremiah – The cannon at the U of G. Hasn’t been fired since 1916, but it’s still a sounding board for students.
  10. The annual Speed River Clean-Up – The community cleaning the river together. Environmental, and awesome fun.
  11. The Bookshelf Cinema
  12. Actually, the Bookshelf period. Movies, books, meals and clubbing: All under one roof.
  13. The Victor Davis bus doesn’t actually go to the Victor Davis pool.
  14. The 50/50 draw at Guelph Storm games – Some people don’t even care what the charity is, they just want to win half the money.
  15. The graffiti tunnel behind the bus station
  16. The incredible indie filmmaking community here.
  17. The U of G Arboretum
  18. The fact that Guelph was one of the test cities for Mondex. (Remember Mondex? You can actually see one in the Civic Museum, if you don’t.)
  19. The Church of Our Lady
  20. Low crime
  21. High volunteerism
  22. The little known origins of the Guelph name. (Hint: It was named after the British Royal Family of King George IV,)
  23. The funny mispronunciations, both purposeful and ignorant, that comes from a name like Guelph.
  24. Frank Valeriote – No matter your political stripe, you have to appreciate how MP Valeriote assured that Guelph continued to wear Liberal red as all around us tried on Tory blue in the last Federal Election.
  25. Steven Truscott – The most famous case of miscarriage of justice in Canadian legal history makes his home here.
  26. The Farmer’s Market, and the fact that it’s held in the last remaining structure from when Guelph hosted the Royal Winter Fair.
  27. The Wooly (AKA: The Woolwich Arms)
  28. Thomas Ryan, inventor of 5-pin bowling, grew up here.
  29. Guelph always comes out for zombies (See: Night of the Living Dead ’07, 1:16 PM, Mind’s Eye and Dead Genesis)
  30. Guelph is home to Sleeman and Wellington Breweries.
  31. The first Municipal Motorcycle Patrol was set up here in the Royal City
  32. We’re a Musical Launching Pad: Edward Johnson, The Constantines, Jim Guthrie, The Barmitzvah Brothers, Green Go, The D'Urbervilles, The Kramdens, Tim Kingsbury of The Arcade Fire and many more.
  33. We’re the only city in Canada to own our own rail line: The Guelph Junction Railroad.
  34. The fact that you can’t ride your bike anywhere in Guelph without having to ride up a hill.
  35. The mind-boggling bric-a-brac that you can find in window of Dis-A-Ray’s (and the Family Thrift Store before it).
  36. Our cosmopolitan ambitions combined with our small town feel.
  37. All the neat little cafes downtown (Red Brick, Capistrano, Cornerstone) along with the utter lack of chain coffee stops (Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Second Cup)
  38. Strong voices across all political spectrums.
  39. We kept Wal-Mart out of town for 10 years, and in the process stood with New York, Chicago and San Francisco as municipalities that were Wal-Mart free.
  40. The “Mullet” quality of our downtown: business during the day; party at night.
  41. Noah 23
  42. Largest amount of green space per capita.
  43. Guelph Jazz Festival and Colloquium
  44. We have two rivers and a lake
  45. The persistent urban legend that the city plans for Guelph were switched with those for Goderich. (And how that would explain the terrible mismatched roads in this city.)
  46. Guelph Storm on Friday Nights.
  47. Homewood – A world famous rehabilitation centre. We’re all about the healing here.
  48. The number of urban legends, conspiracy theories and ghost stories involving Guelph. (ie: The Maple Leafs stole their name from a Guelph minor league team and Exhibition Park was based on New York’s Central Park.)
  49. Half-Priced Aps (Appetizers) at Bobby O’Brien’s on Tuesday Night.
  50. To everyone that thinks Guelph is too progressive, it’s because it’s right there in the town motto: “Faith, Fidelity and Progress.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On Break.

This is not the end, this is a break. I'm sad, but not really sad to announce that I'm taking a month off from updating Politico save for any developments exciting or immediately important. 
Basically, the timing is right. The new council won't be inaugurated until December 6th, and the budget deliberations won't really begin until January according to a recent interview with the Mayor. So basically, I'll never get another chance, he joked. 
Seriously though, I've put a lot of work into Politico this year, and this election season and I'm very proud of that work and the responses I've gotten. Though election turnout tapped out at 33.9 per cent, for people like me it was dynamic and fascinating with no shortage of issues or discussion. But with that out of the way now, I want to take some time and turn my attention to some creative writing projects I've had on the back burner for a while. Rest assured though, my intention is to return to the Politico cyber-ways come December. 
So thanks for tuning in. If you miss reading me, you can keep up to date with my Guelph Beat column in Echo and I'll continue to contribute arts and pop culture stuff to Press+1. If Politico helped you make a decision this election, or made you think about an issue in new and different ways, or perhaps just amused you in the middle of a boring work day, I thank you for stopping by and hope you stop by again in the future.
In the meantime, Peace. I'm out. 
(See you back here in December unless, you know, stuff happens.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hey, It Could Be Worse...?

It made me laugh the other day when my mother said that she always thinks of the man that notoriously shot and killed Jesse James whenever she hears the name "Robert Ford." None too popular near the end, a couple of attempts were made on Robert Ford's life before Edward O'Kelly succeeded in 1892. Of course, the Mayor-Elect of Toronto, also named Rob Ford, doesn't have that problem. He was elected with the biggest margin since amalgamation. The real question is: What's he going to do first and what's Toronto going to look like when he's done?
First of all, there is a comparison to be made between the rise of Rob Ford and the Tea Party movement in the United States. Not necessarily the head-stomping, anti-masturbation, media shy, Glenn Beck worshipping faction of the Party, but the one's that believe fervently in small government, low taxes, more emphasis on essential services and less on social progress issues. Primary amongst Ford's campaign pledges was the elimination of two unpopular taxes: the land transfer tax and the personal vehicle tax. Ford also campaigned on freezing and then cutting property taxes, rethinking the city's transit plan and hiring 100 new police offers. Oh, and he will, somehow, eliminate graffiti city-wide in six months.
Intrinsic in this though is a key problem with a lot of the right wing platform: let's cut taxes, but keep spending the same, and, in fact spend a bit more, but just on the stuff we like. "I will assure you services will not be cut, I will guarantee it," Ford told reporters. "Services are not being effected. Guaranteed." Ford has asserted that city departments can find $525 million in savings in 2011, or in other words, they can tighten their budgets by 2.5 per cent. While there's no doubt that any corporation has its share of waste and over-spending, I wonder if one can really save half a billion dollars through nickel and dimming alone.
Still, I give Ford credit. In his city council office he certainly "walked the walk" as they say, but watching his bottom line with staff and office expenses. And nobody ever lost an election by attacking politicians for their "lavish" expense accounts and "bloated" salaries. Certainly Ford has proved his point in the past, publicly, and to the detriment of his colleagues on council, but again, how far can you get on nickel and dimming alone?
But the faults of Ford for many people has more to do with Bushian gaffes, than it does with his policies or campaign promises. On gay marriage: “I support traditional marriage. I always have. But if people want to, to each your own."On new Canadians: “Those Oriental people work like dogs. … They’re slowly taking over." On bike safety: "What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Sooner or later, you’re going to get bitten." On AIDS prevention: “If you’re not doing needles and you’re not gay, you won't get AIDS, probably.” On intercouncil civility: "She’s a waste of time. A waste of skin." Along with getting tossed out drunk from a Leaf game, a Florida DUI and a couple of other things, Ford sometimes redefines unpolished. It's the bias of today's electorate to expect perfection and ready for prime time shine from our candidates with mostly bland results. In this Ford is an anomaly. Nobody covering Toronto City Hall would ever call Ford bland, as the mayor-elect himself referenced when talking to the Toronto Sun editorial board post-victory.
But I think Toronto progressives needn't worry too much seeing as how many incumbents were re-elected back to their seats, and with fairly wide margins in many cases. Plus, city council is not like provincial and federal parliaments, where people vote in blocs according to party; Ford may want something done, but the majority of council may disagree with him and it'll be his job as mayor to try and convince the doubters. Already, we've seen Ford back down on his desire to yank out the city's street cars. After all, without them how will we know which Hollywood movies set in New York and Chicago were really filmed in Toronto.
What is worrisome are the comparisons between Ford and former Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman. Case Ootes, Lastman's deputy mayor, is in charge of Ford's transition, but the comparisons don't end their. In fact, BlogTO had a very astute appraisal of the comparisons. Lastman certainly had a populist appeal stemming from 25 years as mayor of North York and being the spokesperson for his Bad Boy chain of furniture stores, but in the end he had managed to turn himself into a caricature mocked by nearly everyone, from non-Torontonian Canadians to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And while Lastman was certainly an exuberant ambassador for the City of Toronto, calling out the Canadian Forces to deal with a blizzard and going on CNN saying he didn't know what the World Health Organization was at the height of SARS, made him seem decidedly less mayoral. If Ford is well advised, then he might stay clear of anything that could conjure Lastman comparisons. 
Still, let's give Ford a chance before we cast him in irons for being the rotten mayor that some people apparently think he's going to be. I won't go so far as to say that Rob Ford was in my top 10 list out of the 40 some odd candidates running for Mayor of Toronto, but he's the one that's got the job for now. And if there's one thing we can all agree on, I think, it's that unlike the Tea Party in the U.S., people can find it within themselves to work together, despite political differences, in the best interests of their city. I hope that we will be as wise in the months to come in Guelph.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Back to Basics: An Enviro Talk

How soon we forget and move on to other things, at least if your Maggie Laidlaw. I kid. After handily winning back her council seat on Monday, Laidlaw has now turned her attention back to an issue that's close to her heart: the environment. She fired me off an e-mail the other day promoting the "Our Environmental Future" conference, taking place on Wednesday November 10th at the University of Guelph.
"I attended a global footprint conference in Tuscany, Italy in June of this year and came home very enthusiastic, hence my decision to help organise this conference," wrote Laidlaw. "I have managed to persuade two of the conference speakers to present at this conference."
Among the speakers is Robert Rapier, an energy researcher and expert on Peak Oil; York University prof Peter Victor, author of Managing Without Growth; University of Toronto prof Jennifer Sumner, author of Sustainability and the Civil Commons: Rural Communities in the Age of Globalization; Mike Nickerson, Executive Director of The Sustainability Project and author of Life, Money and Illusion; Living on Earth as if we want to stay; and U of G geography prof Evan Fraser.
The event takes place at the University of Guelph's Thornbrough Building, Room 1200, on November 10th, from 4:30 pm to 10:30 pm. There'll also be a panel discussion with encouraged audience participation, and their should indeed be plenty since the event is absolutely free. Sounds like it's going to be an interesting talk, so check out this poster and spread the world. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Day After

Wow, what a whirlwind -- it wasn't. Nope, the 2010 election was put in the history books, not with a bang, but with a wimper. There was no excitement, palpable or otherwise, despite a couple of surprising upsets, and not helping things last night was the demure, understated, morgue-like atmosphere of "Election Headquarters" at the council chambers. I was doing the CFRU election show as staff was cleaning up around us, and it was only 10 'o' clock. If a party that ends before midnight is lame, what about a party that wraps around 10?
Well, enough about that. Frankly, it was hard to be excited about an election that barely crossed the one-third mark for voter turnout, as evidenced by the fact that BARELY ONE-THIRD OF ELIGIBLE VOTERS TURNED OUT. Upsetting? You bet. And it's just one of the many thoughts and emotions shared in my after action report below.

1) Shifting Allegiances
Karen Farbridge's Thunderdome like defeat of David Birtwistle was impressive, but not for the way that Farbridge consolidated her base in support of a second term. There were several people I talked to on Election Night that said though they were once Farbridge supporters, but they couldn't bring themselves to put their support behind her this time. Instead the protest vote went to Ray Mitchell, who had a surprisingly strong finish of nearly 1,200 votes. Many cited Mitchell's performance and his highlighting of social justice issues in the campaign as reasons why he won the support that he did.
Farbridge, meanwhile, seemed to pick up steam from a previously hostile constituency: business-savvy voters. A source told me that a group of fickle voters she works with were impressed by Farbridge as the best choice for Mayor so far as looking after the city's business interests are concerned. A far cry from the days when the Mayor was seen as ambassador for the Guelph's "Looney Left."
But perhaps it was a void. Birtwistle, as the stalwart on the right side of the local spectrum, seemed to only halfheartedly be in the race despite the fact that he came out swinging early, being the first with election signs out and the first with the opening of a campaign office. Many people also noted that Birtwistle's website, to which I was directed for information about his platform, actually had very little it terms of plans or goals of a Birtwistle mayoralty. In the end, I guess, it almost seemed like a one woman race.

2) So you're a referee...?
Andy Van Hellemond won handily in Ward 2 Monday night with over 2,500 votes, nearly 400 more than his nearest competition, incumbent Ian Finlay. Obviously, Van Hellemond has name cache, but I'll be damned if I knew what he stands for. I wasn't at the Ward 2 debate, but only a fool leans his whole ambitions on a single debate performance. Google 'Andy Van Hellemond' and you'll get more references to Van Hellemond's career as an NHL referee than his political career by a factor of about 9 to 1. His Facebook page is spartan at best, and only has about 15 friends. So where did the other 2,500 come from?

3) Guthrie Vs Kovac: Detente?
Weirdly, it seems that my home ward might have a more interesting post-election than campaign with Cam Guthrie and Gloria Kovach being elected as the new Ward 4 councillors. As you'll recall, there was a bit of a controversy regarding Guthrie's use of multiple aliases while posting on the 59 Carden Street blog. Said blog also noted how at a CUPE all-candidates meeting, the two took swipes at each other with Guthrie saying that it's important for a candidate to live in their ward, with Kovac coming back saying "Integrity is very important to me and I know my name." Given the mutual singes delivered by both candidates, it will be interesting to see how the two can/will work together.

4) Satisfaction is Job Done.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Wards 3 and 5 stayed the same last night. Lise Burcher and Leanna Piper had exactly one competitor, Douglas O'Doherty. Apparently, many of the people living in the Village by the Arboretum had heard that O'Doherty had dropped out of the race, which might explain his third place finish. Still, O'Doherty garnered 2,300 votes, which probably represents the anti-incumbent contingent in Ward 5.
As for Ward 3, Maggie Laidlaw and June Hofland practically had a photo finish for first and second, with fiscal conservative Craig Chamberlain finishing third at around 1,600 votes. Of course there might have been a bit of vote-splitting between Chamberlain, Mark Enchin and Dimitrios “Jim” Galatiano, who were all financial reformers, as they together garnered about 1,977 votes, which still falls short of the 2,202 votes secured by Hofland.
The lesson: the residents were very satisfied with their representation. In all, only four new candidates were installed last night, and two of those slots were vacant to begin with.

5) Where was the outrage?
Admit it, 33.9 per cent is pitiful for voter turnout. Crawling slowly to one-third of potential ballots cast was one of the most surprising and disappointing news items of the night. Honestly, what does it take for people to get out there and exercise their vote? Take this letter to the Mercury that was posted on 59 Carden. It's from a woman named Jeri who picked her son up from Paisley Public School yesterday when she found out that the school was a polling place for the Municipal Election, and there was no heightened security posture on behalf of the students by the officials at Paisley Public.
First of all, I've never known a polling station not set up some place like a school or church. Why not? If there's one thing you can find in any neighbourhood, in any town or city in this country, it's a church or a school. Or both. I remember going with my mom and dad to a polling station in my elementary school when I was a kid. The first time I ever voted was at the local Catholic School. This seems to have been a thing for a long time. Secondly, do the freaks and monsters out there lie in wait for Election Day to make their move? I don't think so. And if you're going to kidnap a kid, there are easier ways than sneaking into a school under the guise of a voter and then somehow, surreptitiously, get out of the gym area and sneak around the school and shop for a victim.
But the checkmate move was when Jeri said, "I don’t vote so I was unaware of the voting locations." And then she immediately followed that with saying, "As a parent I feel I have the right to be informed of such procedures that occur in my child’s school." Uh, don't those two things go hand in hand? You don't vote and then lament your lack of awareness. Has Jeri heard about irony? As someone that commented on the blog said, perhaps if Jeri voted for school trustee and was engaged with the political process, then she might know what "procedures" "occur" in her child's school. You can't not be engaged in the political process and complain about how no one engages you.
And with 66 per cent of the city's voting population sitting at home yesterday, it seems that the tyranny of arm-chair quarterbacking will continue for the next four years. You think your taxes are too high? Vote. Hate the way the transit system is run? Vote. Don't like the new garbage system? For the love of Holy God, take two and a half minutes out of your day and VOTE.
To put it another way, 18 per cent of Guelph voters just gave Karen Farbridge four more years. Is there any decision in your life that you would commit to with only 18 per cent certainty, because that's what this says: Only 18 per cent of the people in Guelph were of the strong belief that Farbridge should be our mayor. Fifteen per cent thought differently, but most of the rest just didn't seem to give a damn. If people are that upset about the state of the city, I guess people just like being upset. What a world if we have nothing to complain about.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Election 2010: I Was Two-Thirds Right!

I got to City Hall with one minute left before the polls closed and excitement was in the air. It was a small crowd in the council chambers. Many of the people there were candidates and their family and supporters. Together we waited for the hourglass to run out, anticipating the returns as the polls closed. And then the screen went dark in the council chambers and it was almost showtime.
And then it was five minutes after and we were playing the waiting game. Rogers and CFRU got their coverage underway, although they, like me, had nothing to report. Even a half-hour later, there was still nothing to report.
But the crowds were getting larger. There was more and more activity in the council chamber. Maggie Laidlaw came over to say that it looked like it was going to be called for Rob Ford as Toronto’s Mayor. And suddenly the coolness factor of Toronto went down about 50 per cent. Shortly after that the room perked up with some results of our own.
At quarter to nine, my mayoral prediction seemed to bear out. Karen Farbridge was beating David Birtwistle by about 700 votes. Ray Mitchell and Scott Nighingale had about 200 combined.
In Ward 1, Bob Bell held on to a slight lead over his 10 competitors, but Jim Furfaro, Seán D. Farrelly and Karolyne Pickett were a close second, third and fourth respectively.
Ward 2 had some surprises with Ian Findlay finishing first with challenger Andy Van Hellemond coming in second. Finley’s fellow incumbent Vicki Beard was in a distant fourth.
Incumbents stayed strong in Wards 3 and 4 with Maggie Laidlaw and June Hofland ahead in Ward 3 and Gloria Kovach in first place in Ward 4. Christina Boumis held second place for Ward 4, at least until Cam Guthrie leap frogged over both ladies about 10 minutes later.
In Ward 5 it seemed that Lise Burcher and Leanne Piper were on their way to easy re-elections. Karl Wettstein was also looking safe in Ward 6, but it was a tight two-way race for second between Todd Dennis and Susan Ricketts.
As we approached 9 ‘o’ clock it seemed that the mayoral race was Farbridge’s to lose as she was beating Birtwistle by about 1,300 votes. At this point about half the tabulators were reporting, and it seemed that unless there were stacks of supporters one way or the other, the races as they stood might be more or less locked. Of course, there were a lot of tight races, and it would be interesting to see just how tight all those races would remain.
The race for mayor stayed pretty static as Farbridge kept her 1,300 vote lead over Birtwistle. Meanwhile in Ward 1 Furfaro overtook Bell for first, and Pickett zipped past Farrelly for third.
Coming up 9:30 it seemed that things were pretty much cemented with 48 out of 64 stations reporting. Farbridge’s lead was fairly secured with over 3,000 votes between her and Birtwistle. Mike Salisbury’s council career seemed more or less done with exactly half the amount of votes as frontrunner Guthrie in Ward 4. Wettstein and Dennis were trading back and forth for first place in Ward 6, while Van Hellemond seemed assured for Ward 2, with Ian Findley and Ray Ferraro neck-in-neck for second place. Ward 3 and 5, meanwhile, seemed locked for both incumbents.
Things really seemed set by the time the tally reached 61 tabulators reporting, and then it was a bit of a long wait for the final votes to come in for the people that chose to stick around in the Council Chamber, especially since it seemed that all fates were sealed. In the end, seven incumbents returned to their seats in the horseshoe, along with Mayor, now Mayor-Elect, Farbridge. Five new city councillors will step up and determine our fate for the next four years.
And despite any occasionally heated discourse, or inadvertent wise-crackery on my part, I wish the members of the 2011-2014 Guelph City Council the best of luck. I’ll be back tomorrow with some (hopefully) thoughtful analysis. In the meantime, here are the unofficial election results:

  • Karen Farbridge 14,902
  • David Birtwistle 10,576
  • Ray Mitchell 1,182
  • Scott Nightingale 878
Ward 1
  • Bob Bell 1,758
  • Jim Furfaro 1,696
  • Seán Farrelly 1,175
  • Karolyne Pickett 1,109
  • Russell Ott 779
  • Gary Walton 601
  • Linda Murphy 527
  • Peter Bortolon 361
  • Tamara Williams 306
  • Allan Boynton 235
  • Eugene Gromczynski 221
Ward 2
  • Andy Van Hellemond 2,538
  • Ian Findlay 2,180
  • Ray J. Ferraro 1,853
  • Vicki Beard 1,757
  • Paul J. Mahony 403
Ward 3
  • Maggie Laidlaw 2,296
  • June Hofland 2,202
  • Craig C. Chamberlain 1,680
  • Mark Enchin 799
  • Dimitrios “Jim” Galatianos 498
  • Missy F. Tolton 320
Ward 4
  • Cam Guthrie 2,381
  • Gloria Kovach 1,979
  • Christina Boumis 1,694
  • Mike Salisbury 1,199
  • Steven Petric 207
Ward 5
  • Leanne Piper 3,451
  • Lise Burcher 2,932
  • Douglas O’Doherty 2,331
Ward 6
  • Karl Wettstein 2,719
  • Todd Dennis 2,654
  • Susan Ricketts 1,932
Total Voter Turnout: 33.90 per cent