About the Blog:

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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Reach for the Sky

It's sometimes a wonder how we ever move forward in this city. When the announcement came last fall that Guelph's waste collection faculties was going to be rigged for bins rather than bags, the people rallied. Where are we supposed to store these bins? Is it hygienic? What's wrong with a bag? If any of these arguments sound familiar, it was because they were the same arguments levied against Wet/Dry Plus when it was introduced over a decade ago. 
To this day, people still lament the fact that they can't put all their garbage in a big black and have it picked up by a garbage man to be taken to a place where it will never be seen again by human eyes again. The problem with that is that we are running out of space in the current landfills, and nobody wants a landfill in their backyard. Despite that though, people were dragged kicking and screaming into the Wet/Dry system. 
One can see the same logic being applied to the current debate over two proposed high-rise projects; one in downtown and one across the road from the University of Guelph. The City of Guelph has to consume about 50,000 more people in the next four decades, but it can only be done by using land inside our present city limits. So that means building up, not out. Hence where the idea of building accommodations in excess of 10 or 12 stories come in to play.
I have no bias either way. I've lived in houses and I've lived in apartment buildings; both have their advantages and disadvantages. But one thing's for sure, unless we want to dig up all our park land and transfer all our commercial land into residential, the construction of towers is a reality everyone in the city is going to have to live with, sooner rather than later. But the proposed student town towers at Gordon and Stone I can see making  viable argument against. Ever see south residence from Wyndham St as your driving out of downtown? Well, that's what those two towers are going to look like in the distance, only bigger. Aesthetically, I'm not sure how they will jive, but that's just part of my problem with the situation. 
First, the outrage about the proposed towers I would get, if there weren't pre-existing outrage about students living in neighbourhoods all over the south end. Neighbourhoods, if you've heard the complaints, that have been more or less ceded to students. Student ghettos, if you will. To my mind, you can't be mad about having students fanned out across the city, and then get mad(der) when someone offers to get them all in one place. But on the other hand, where's the demand for something like this? And who's going to push all the students to set up residence there? Aren't we always talking about engaging students more so that they'll take some pride and ownership in Guelph while they're here, and won't this ginormous tower just foster feelings of the exact opposite by putting them in, what is basically, another university residence?
In downtown though, a condominium tower feels right. Making downtown as much a place people live in as it is a place where people go for business and entertainment also feels right. The next step is amenities though. The city will need to foster a campaign to equal this accommodation for people's residence with accommodation for their needs.  Meaning more retail. Not art stores or boutiques, but stores where you can get the basics, and at an affordable price. In other words, a grocery store and maybe something in the way of a department store. There are a lot of shops downtown that I like, Market Fresh for instance, which is good for a nosh or some nice fresh produce. But can Market Fresh service hundreds looking to buy groceries within walking distance of where they live? Of course, grocery stores are a sore spot in some places in this city so I'll digress there. 
So yes, towers are inevitable in our fair city. They're going to happen, they will happen, people will fight them all the way there, but we'll all get used to it in the end. We knew watching "The Jetsons" this day would come, now only if we could get some of those funky flying cars...

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