So it's been a week since I last posted. Mostly, I've been playing catch-up with my other endeavours, but now I find myself having to play catch-up with local political issues, lest I sound like an idiot in a pre-tapped segment for the next edition of the "Beyond the Ballot Box" radio show on CFRU. So as the man said, let's see what's in the news...
City Buildings Unsafe
In a rare and almost improbable move, the city closed seven "high risk" structures last Friday out of safety concerns. They include the standalone washroom buildings at Silvercreek Park, Margaret Greene Park, Hanlon Creek Park and Norm Jary Park, as well as the combination washroom/concession buildings at Exhibition Park and Riverside Park and the Riverside Bandshell. This is after the grandstand at Hastings Stadium was closed for safety concerns as well. What's the problem? Mario Petricevic, the city’s general manager of corporate building maintenance, says that the issue is the buildings' roofs, or rather the anchors that keep those roofs fastened to the walls of the buildings in sever wind. There are 34 buildings in the City that are deemed "high risk" and although the engineer didn't order the closure of those seven facilities, the City felt it necessary to act with an abundance of caution. In this year's budget, the City put aside $1.3 million for building repair. Some of the buildings will be able to be fixed right away, others have such extensive damage they'll need to be sent out for tenure.
Civic Square Conundrum
Impatience about the complete closure of Carden Street was compounded this week when word came down that, surprise, the finishing of the Civic Square in front of City Hall would be delayed by a month. The culprit? A particular brick made in New York "made using a special, highly durable kind of clay that’s not available in Canada," according to the Guelph Tribune. The end result is that the Square won't be finished till sometime in July, and that's discounting the ice rink, which actually won't be finished until sometime later this year, probably December. Merchants along Carden remain unimpressed. “Collectively, these businesses (along Carden Street) have probably lost several hundred thousand dollars in sales,” said Marc Black, owner of Hempire to the Guelph Mercury. But even when July comes and goes, Carden Street will still be in a half shamble because of the construction of the transit hub.
Premier Posits Problematic
Not sure if that sentence made sense, but oh well, I'm not sure this whole Health Unit issue does either. The Guelph Tribune reported Tuesday that Premier Dalton McGuinty will indeed endorse the idea of a meeting between Mayor Karen Farbridge and the Ontario government about the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit. “What we have agreed to is that somebody will meet with the mayor, so that we can talk a little bit more about this issue and get a better understanding from the city’s perspective about the challenges that present themselves here,” McGuinty said when he returned to the Royal City for the second time in two weeks on Monday. Guelph MPP Liz Sandals said previously that it was unlikely that the health minister would dissolve the WDG-Health Unit, but I believe the fact that the confirmation that two sides in this struggle will be sitting down together is a new development. Whether or not anything's going to come of it is another matter altogether. There's little appetite for Guelph to take on its own Health Unit bureaucracy from scratch, but at the same time, there's little appetite for Guelph to swallow the whole $10 million price tag for the new Health Unit as well. No date has been set for the tête-à-tête between the Mayor and health minister, but I suspect waves will be made when it's done.