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, May 31, 2010

Guelph Pride Kicks Off

This week is Pride Week (in case you didn't know!) Here's the schedule of events for the next seven days, including an awesome night of spoken word being held in Synn Studios' Synnema. (Incidently, recently nominated Best Live Entertainment Venue in Guelph by the Mercury in its Reader's Choice Awards.)

Monday May 31, 2010
Flag Raising at City Hall, 12 noon

Join us for the kick off to pride week festivities at our annual Flag Raising at City Hall !! Speeches from Mayor Farbridge, Marion Steele (Interpride and FCP ), CAW Rep as well as someone from our outstanding Pride Committee !

Tuesday, June 1, 2010
A for Awareness!

Helen Kennedy from EGALE is going to be our honoured guest this year as she comes to Guelph to speak with us about international LGBTIQ2 issues around the world and raises our awareness about the world we live in! She is a seriously engaging speaker that you shouldn’t miss !!

Where: University of Guelph, University Centre Room 441 (use north elevator)
Time: 6pm - 8pm
No admission fee but we will be accepting donations to help support EGALE’s work around the world


Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Movie Night at the bookshelf!
"A Single Man"

This year we are proud to be showing “A Single Man” starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult. “A SINGLEMAN is a romantic tale of love interrupted the isolation that is an inherent part of the human condition, and ultimately the importance of the seemingly smaller moments in time”...for more details go to: http://www.asingleman-movie.com Bookshelf Cinemas information at: www.bookshelf.ca/cinema

The dinner and a movie combo is returning again this year so come on out and have some great food and then relax and enjoy a thought provoking movie!

Where: Bookshelf Cinemas, 41 Quebec Street, Guelph Ontario (519)821-3311
Time: 7 pm
Cost: $9.99/person or $19.95 for dinner and movie combo

Thursday, June 3, 2010
Guelph Pride Open Mic - 7:00pm to 10:00pm

Bring your instruments, words, and voice. Without gay people there would be no Hollywood! We know you folks have talent. So share it! Hosted by Guelph Spoken Word

There will be donation beers ($2 suggestion) and wine.
$5 at the door
Synnema (Synn Studios)
106-121 Wyndham Street N.

Saturday, June 5, 2010
Annual Pride Dance at the Holiday Inn on Scottsdale Road !

All the fun starts at 9pm in the Oakwood Ballroom. DJ Dallas (sponsored by CAW Local 1917) will be bringing her amazing skills to keep the tunes flowing all night long !!

Carla Donnell Doak from Magic 106.1 is returning as our MC !

Great tunes, awesome food, and lots of fun to be had, all for the low low price of only $12/person !! If your looking for a room for the night..just let the Holiday Inn know that your coming to the Pride event and you can get a special room rate of $104.99 !!

Various community groups will be showcasing information about their organizations for you to peruse:

DJ Dallas information found at: www.djdallasrocks.webs.com
Holiday Inn information found at: www.higuelph.ca/guelph-hotels/
Magic 106.1 information found at: www.magic106.com

Sunday, June 6, 2010
Guelph Pride Brunch

Family Oriented Brunch at The Red Brick Cafe’s Downtown location

This year we are proud to be bringing you local artists performing poetry and spoken word from Guelph’s Spoken Word Group and various artists while you enjoy a tasty specialty blend coffee and a tasty pastry.

No admission fee, just come and patronize the establishment : )

Red Brick Information found at: www.redbrickcafe.ca

Welcome to Summer on Transit

If you were trying to get the bus on a 20-minute rotation this morning, I'm sorry to be the bearer (or the reminder) of bad news.

Guelph Transit summer service starts on Sunday, May 30

Guelph Transit will be operating on 30 minute summer service frequency starting on Sunday, May 30. Routes operating out of St. George’s Square arrive in the Square at 15 minutes to the hour and 15 minutes after the hour, Monday to Saturday from 5:45 a.m. to 12:15 a.m., and Sunday from 9:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.

Please remember, Guelph Transit will not be operating on Sundays in August.

Regular service schedules will resume on September 5, 2010.

Information on routes and schedules can be found online at guelphtransit.ca.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Do the Locomotion

Save the date - June 15th - if you want to see a big old steam-powered locomotive be hoisted by crane on to a flatbed truck and transported a few hundred metres away to it's new resting place. While it would have been awesome to see the train move on its own, seeing a 30 tonne locomotive from World War II being raised by a crane isn't bad either.

Here's a press release from the City with the details:

GUELPH, ON, May 27, 2010 – Construction begins this week in preparation for the relocation of locomotive 6167.

The historic steam engine is currently located north of Macdonell Street, east of the Greyhound station. As part of the plan for Guelph’s new intermodal transit terminal, the City of Guelph is relocating the 6167 locomotive to the south side of the Canadian National Railway tracks, east of the existing VIA Rail Station.

"This week we’ll start building the new concrete pad and tracks," said Andrew Janes, Project Manager. "We’ll build a temporary bridge over the tracks, and move the train itself in June."

On June 15 a crane will lift the 682,950-pound train straight up, allowing a flatbed trailer to drive underneath it. The flatbed will travel over the tracks on the temporary bridge. On June 16, the crane will lift the train from the flatbed and place it in its new location.

The relocation of locomotive 6167 is the first step toward building Guelph’s new intermodal transit terminal on Carden Street. Later this summer, the Greyhound station will be removed to make room for a new bus platform that will accommodate both Guelph Transit and regional bus service.

The City will build a new bus platform and waiting area, new public washrooms, new stairs and a new elevator for pedestrians travelling between the north side and the south side of the rail tracks from Neeve Street.

The City is also renovating the interior of the VIA Rail station to house administration services for Guelph Transit, Go Transit and VIA Rail. The new intermodal transit hub is designed to improve connections between local transit and regional buses and trains. The VIA station on Carden Street will become the main transfer point for people travelling in to, out of, and around the city.

Both Greyhound and VIA rail service will be maintained throughout construction which is expected to be completed by March 2011 in order to take advantage of Federal and Provincial Infrastructure Stimulus funds. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $8 million of which the City will pay $2.7 million.

Photo Courtesy of the Guelph Mercury

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

City Wants Your Meds

Issues associated with expired meds being flushed down the toilet and the issues that's been revealed to cause has been getting more and more press over the last several years.

Don't want to put those old pills down the potty? The City of Guelph offers a solution:

GUELPH, ON, May 25, 2010 – Guelph residents can safely dispose of old or unused medication by taking it to participating Guelph pharmacies between May 25 and June 4. This annual medication clean-out initiative is spearheaded by Safe Communities on the Grand and supported by the City of Guelph.

Residents can empty their old or unused pills from their containers and place them in a plastic bag, then empty the bag into disposal containers at the following pharmacies:
  • Guelph Medical Pharmacy, 83 Dawson Road
  • Royal City Pharmacy IDA, 84 Gordon Street
  • Westmount Pharmacy, 77 Westmount Road
  • Prime Care Pharmacy, 281 Stone Road East
  • Campus Drugmart, 35 Harvard Road
  • Surrey Prescriptions, 21 Surrey Street West
  • Shoppers Drugmart, Stone Road Mall
Note: Packaging and liquid medication are not accepted.

This medication clean-out event is intended to provide safe, convenient ways for people to get rid of old medications. It’s also intended to reduce environmental pollutants that result from society’s use of medications, trace amounts of which can end up in the world’s water supply.

Guelph residents can safely dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medications free of charge at the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Depot, year round. The Depot is located at 110 Dunlop Drive and is open 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

About Safe Communities on the Grand
Safe Communities on the Grand is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to making Guelph, Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and other communities in the Grand River region the safest places to live, learn, work and play.

In association with the Safe Communities Foundation, the national umbrella organization, the goal of Safe Communities on the Grand is to eliminate injuries while promoting a culture of safety through training and education.

City Says take the Commuter Challenge

The annual, nation-wide communter challenge kicks off May 30th and the city wants residents to take part in the hopes to "see fewer cars on the road during Environment Week." Worthy goal, but the timing is hilariously ironic given that June 1st is the first day for the return of the 30-minute schedule for all transit routes until September.

Anyway, here's the City's press release:

GUELPH, ON, May 25, 2010 – Guelph is taking the Commuter Challenge. The annual competition encourages individuals, employers and cities to register and track the distances they travel by carpool, transit, cycling or walking to work during National Environment Week.

Last year, compared to other communities of its size, Guelph placed third in the challenge and local employers and individual participants prevented more than 3,391 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions.

"People can participate on their own or as part of a team within an organization," says Tim Donegani, Guelph’s Transportation Demand Management Coordinator. "This is a great opportunity to try transit or start a carpool and share the driving with co-workers. Every car that’s not on the road makes a difference, especially given the amount of road work happening in the city."

Since 2001 Guelph Transit has offered free transit on Clean Air Day. The offer will continue on Wednesday, June 2 so everyone can participate again this year.

“We encourage residents to consider public transit as a reliable way to get to and from work and hope Clean Air Day provides the incentive some may be looking for to give it a try,” says Michael Anders, General Manager, Community Connectivity and Transit.

Guelph will be judged based on the percentage of people participating, the distance travelled using more sustainable transportation methods and the carbon emissions prevented during the week.

For more information, or to register for the challenge, individuals and employers can visit

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Campaign Update

A lot of campaign news floating about today, one bit I uncovered myself and the other came as a bit of surprise.

First, the surprise as Ward 2 Coun. Ian Findlay threw his hat into the ring for re-election, joining his previously announced colleague Vicki Beard in the 2010 race. Both Findlay and Beard are the only candidates that have yet declared for Ward 2. Team Findlay sent out a statement to coincide with his announcement:

Ian Findlay announces candidacy for Ward 2 City Councillor

GUELPH, ON (May 20, 2010) - Guelph Ward 2 City Councillor Ian Findlay announces his campaign for re-election to Guelph City Council Thursday morning.

During the current council term, Ian brought transparency, accountability and accessibility to City Hall. Ian has worked hard to bring as many points of view to the forefront with the Ward 2 blog. He's particularly proud of the fact that the Ward 2 Blog has become the "go to" place for community dialog on a variety of topics with over 200,000 views.

As a councillor, working with members of the community has been a passion for Ian, exemplified by the timely action and leadership with the re-development of the Guelph Youth Music Parking Lot project.

Ian continued to facilitate community dialog and discussion with the 14 town hall meetings that he co-hosted with his fellow Ward 2 Councillor.

Additionally, as I was interviewing Councillors Leanne Piper and Lise Burcher for the Ward 5 segment of "Better Know a Ward", both councillors stated their intention to run again in 2010. (Although they've technically yet to declare officially.)

"Many of the initiatives that you begin in 2006, you can't see through in four years," said Piper in response to being asked about re-election. "Two terms of council, I think, are a minimum in order to feel satisfied that you've made a difference and you've seen through your vision into action. So yes, I'm running again."

"Absolutely, I plan on running again," responded Burcher. "And having been there another term I have to say that several of the large initiatives we've talked about started two terms ago. But I think the exciting thing now is that there have been so many initiatives in the last two terms, I would venture that it's 10, 12 year outcome for a lot of those larger things to even get to the starting stage."

Read more from Piper in Burcher in the "Better Know a Ward - Ward 5" to be published in the May 27th issue of Echo Weekly, a week from tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gravel, Ground Water and Discussion

Speaking of issues coming back to haunt, the Council of Canadians is sponsoring a townhall to discuss the impact of developments and new construction on our local water systems, specifically the Grand River watershed. Read further for full details:

Event: Council of Canadians, Guelph Chapter is hosting a panel discussion at Harcourt Memorial United Church, 87 Dean Ave, Guelph, ON on Thursday, June 3rd at 7pm (right in the middle of Canadian Environment Week).

Townhall on Growth, Gravel and Groundwater!

Expert panelists will discuss the impact of quarries, pipelines, roads and new-builds on our future sustainability within the city and Grand River watershed. Are there problems ahead for us? Food security? Water Security? Can plans be altered?

8,000 acres of prime farmland at the top of our watershed is being removed for a 2400 acre quarry 200 ft deep for export of the limestone bedrock from Shelburne to Owen Sound and then across the Great lakes to the west and south?

Ever increasing demand for gravel, limestone and concrete for more and bigger roads and new-builds is taking precedence over our prime agricultural soil and capacity to grow much of our food within the '100 mile diet'.

In full support of 'buy local' initiatives, protection of our Grand River watershed and preservation of prime agricultural land we will discuss the threats and possibilities for modifications to existing land use practices.

Council of Canadians-Guelph Chapter has confirmed panelists from:

1. GravelWatchOntario representing two activist groups (
gravelwatch.org) who have won OMB hearings in their opposition to aggregate companies. FORCE (Friends of Rural Communities and the Environment) and CARRA Cranberry Area Ratepayers and Residents Association

2. Grand River Environmental Network on the proposed Grand River water pipeline to Lake Erie . (www.gren.ca) Guelph Water Supply Master Plan states that "a final decision be reached by 2010 as the Great Lakes Supply discussion moves forward." (www.guelph.ca)

3. North Dufferin Agriculture and Community Taskforce opposing the giant quarry above Luther Marsh, at the top of our headwaters. (

Plus hydrological engineering professional, Dr. Hugh Whiteley

There will be a Q&A session for other growth concerns that can cause dramatic negative changes to our present lifestyles.

Told You So. RE: HCBP Protests

I got this in the old e-mail bag last night. It was addressed to all 13 members of council, but I assume there was a blank cc to other media peeps (and not just me).

In the spirit indended by the letter writer (it is an 'open' letter after all), I now share it with you, my readership:

An Open Letter:

Why the Jefferson Salamander isn't the end all to the issue of the proposed HCBP:

We recently found out that the city's monitoring of the Jefferson did not find any confirmation that the Jefferson Salamander lives at the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex. (Other than the hybrid found about a year ago). But we also know that, had the Jefferson been found, the City was attempting to apply for an exemption to the Endangered Species Act anyway, to be allowed to kill some in order to continue development. So it seems that we have come to the end of the road in terms of how the Jefferson Salamander can stop this development. But, there is one thing I want to make clear: This does not, in anyway, mean that this is a 'green' and ecologically sound development. All of the major environmental issues remain the same: causing destruction to the Paris-Galt Moraine, harming tributary A of the Hanlon Creek, (here-forth known as ‘Freedom Tributary’), killing thousands of animals, destroying their habitat, completely disregarding international treaties with Six Nations, and causing great harm to this beautiful old diverse forest, one of the last of its kind in Southern Ontario.

Species Diversity:
The Jefferson Salamander is important as an threatened species just as all species' diversity is important. To keep paving over diverse forests in the name of 'economic progress' will inevitably eradicate this diversity. To only care about a species once it becomes ‘threatened’ is senseless as we continue on this path of destroying more and more habitat, thus placing more and more species at risk. In some sense, only caring about species officially titled 'endangered' can be equated to quitting smoking once we have cancer and are on our death bed. The Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex is the home to 20 species of reptiles and amphibians, 270 species of plants and trees, 16 species of mammals, and 112 species of birds. To destroy this beautiful land is to increase the risk to all of these animals as we eradicate their habitats and kill those animals who are unable to relocate elsewhere, such as all of the reptiles and amphibians.

Our Water:
Then there is the issue of drinking water. The Paris-Galt moraine is not only beautiful and the home to many species of life, but is essential to our drinking water as it provides a unique function in ground water recharging. The Paris-Galt Moraine is a deposit of soil, sand, and gravel left over from glacial times. Although the Mayor has lately been arguing that the moraine is not on HCBP land, this is in fact false. Section 3.2 of The City’s own Environmental Impact Study on the HCBP discusses the presence of the moraine on the site. While in the past the City of Guelph has declared its dedication to the preservation of Moraines, development of the HCBP will result in the leveling and grading of a northern section of the moraine, that lies on the South end of the site.

Development of the HCBP would also result in seriously harming Freedom Tributary of the Hanlon Creek, which feeds into the Downey Well. This well gives the City of Guelph 10 - 20% of its drinking water; any development around this area poses a grave threat to our water supply. Freedom Tributary also feeds into the Speed River that then feeds into the Grand River. Many communities that are part of the Grand River watershed oppose the HCBP because of the contamination of their own water supply. One of these communities is Six Nations of the Grand River, and there are international laws and treaties that hold the people who have settled on this land accountable to Six Nations for their actions.

International Treaties:
Three major treaties with Six Nations that include the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex are Two Row Wampum of 1613, the Nanfan treaty of 1701, and the Haldimand Tract Treaty of 1784. The Two Row Wampum is a treaty of non-disturbance and co-existance, demonstrated by a wampum belt that is mostly white with two purple lines down the middle, running parallel and never touching. This symbolizes two boats, one of Six Nations, and the other of settlers. Each is to drive their own boat and keep to their own path, and is NOT to drive the other's boat, or drive their boat all over the other's path. However, here we have a colonial situation where the settlers on this land have attempted to steer the other's boat again and again. Development on the Hanlon Creek would further this for three reasons: one, we are not sure that it is not covered by the Haldimand Tract treaty, two, even if it is not covered by this treaty, it would surely have harmful consequences to land that is, and three, it is surely covered by the Nanfan treaty.

The Nanfan treaty of 1701 is named after by John Nanfan, the colonial governor of New York, and covers Southern Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. It declares "free hunting.... for ever" and "free of all disturbances". This includes the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex, and the destruction of this land through the development of the proposed HCBP would directly be a 'disturbance' to this land that is legally bound to be disturbance free. As Southern Ontario is increasingly become a 'pavement paradise', this 'free hunting forever' has already been seriously compromised, further destruction to the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex would greatly add to this.

The Haldimand Tract treaty of 1784 is land given to Six Nations as compensation for land they lost as a result of the American Revolution, where they allied with the British. The Haldimand Tract is six miles on either side of the Grand River. This either includes the land proposed for the HCBP, or is very very close. The exact boundaries of the Haldimand Tract are hard to determine for a number of reasons: uncertainty regarding if it measured in nautical miles or land miles, the river is constantly changing, there are new dams and concrete embankments that change the topography of the river, and there are tributaries that feed directly into the Grand River. However, one thing is certain: even if the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex is not part of the Haldimand Tract, any destruction of this land would surely cause great harm to land that is. Thus, any destruction to the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex would be illegal, as it would be breaking international treaties.

Fallacy in trusting Government:
I also want to bring up how this has illuminated our fallacy in trusting governmental bodies, such as the MNR, to look out for our well being. Just as Donna Cansfield, the then Minister of Natural Resources, let us down in fall 2009 when she went against the opinions of her own staff by not issuing a 'work-stop' order to the City of Guelph, so have the MNR let us down again. It seems that the MNR is more about enabling development to take place on environmentally sensitive land than on protecting said land, demonstrated through all of the loopholes in its policies. So what is the MNR there for, then? Well, let’s look at the name "natural resources", which illustrates how the natural world is merely viewed as a 'resource' for economic extraction. Instead of being appreciated and respected for being the base of our existence, our food to eat, water to drink, air to breathe, this earth is only looked at though a lens of dollar signs, to see how our 'natural resources' can translate into economic growth. The MNR fits in nicely with the Ministry of Industry to promote economic growth, thus destroying our natural environment, in such a way as to feed us the delusion that 'the government is looking out for our best interest'. Governmental bodies maintain the status quo, protect private property, inflict fear into deep environmentalists who are trying to ring the warning bell, and keep this monster of capitalism and industrial growth chugging. It is this monster of capitalism that is currently wrecking havoc on the planet, it is this monster of industrial growth that is giving us climate change. When will we learn that this is not in our 'best interest'? When will we realize that we all need clean air, water, and land? When will we realize that we cannot eat money? If we follow along the track that the MNR sets out for us, where species are only protected once they are 'endangered', then I fear we will realize this far too late.

I chose Life
The time is here where we need to shift our values and realize what is truly important. We need to realize that the 'world leaders' are the leaders of money, and they are leading us into an industrial black hole that the Earth may not recover from. Many people had high hopes about Copenhagaan, thinking that 'now the leaders will realize that climate change is actually an issue.' And then many left disappointed. Most of us know these values that we need to hold higher - when we raise a child, we do not teach them to be competitive and destroy this earth, no, we teach them to cherish this earth, cherish friendships and relationships, and cooperate with one another. But then something happens (greed? capitalism? I wish I knew...), and we have a society that values competition and economic progress above all else, above community, above this earth. And we see these values reflected in policies, we see these values reflected in this society of excess and wealth, extreme consumerism, at the cost of so much. Other places in the world are feeling these costs of capitalism, industrialism, and consumerism, and soon climate change will bring these effects to our doorsteps as well.

I do not think that these are 'radical' ideas that I am writing. I work in the South End of Guelph, and spend much of my time talking with mothers, fathers, caregivers, and I hear them echo this fear. I hear them echo this urgency that we must all wake up and change. And these are not people who one would put the label 'radical' onto. What saddens me is, although many people agree with these ideas, how little they act on them. I understand how scary it can be to step out of the status quo with we have dependents, children, or even pets. But I would like instead for these loved ones to give us inspiration to do what needs to be done, as we contemplate "what kind of a world are we leaving for them?" I am calling on all people who live in the Hanlon Creek Watershed to wake up and realize that destruction to this beautiful land will have disastrous consequences for us all. I believe very strongly that we can stop the proposed HCBP. The key word being 'we'. I, alone, cannot. But if everyone that lives in the Hanlon Creek Watershed took up their responsibility to care for this land, to care for the water that gives us life, and to therefore stop the proposed HCBP, than I have complete faith that we can.

We all need clean water, clean air, and biodiversity. We do NOT need more pavement, more 'economic growth', that increases climate change and environmental destruction. We do NOT need another business park when there are so many brown-fields in Guelph. We do NOT need the proposed HCBP.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I welcome feedback at hcbpoccupation@gmail.com.

Marcy Goldstein

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Support Grows for the Cannabis Club

Yesterday, a small but hearty group of supporters gathered in front of Guelph City Hall to rally support and generate awareness about the closure of the Medicinal Cannabis Club of Guelph last week.

When I arrived, a man named Julian said that they were waiting to get started until the arrival of a few more people. "The issue isn't to legalize marijuana," he says, adding that his own parents were cancer patients. "The issue is that sick people can't get their medicine [...] They're attacking sick people that have no other recourse."

Here's the complete recording of Julian's comments to the crowd:

The Protest against the raid on the MCCG will take place this Saturday, May 15th from 2 pm - 3:30 pm in St. George's Square. The Facebook event notice can be found here.

Press Release from the MCCG:

On Thursday, May 6, 2010 the Guelph Police Service (GPS) raided the Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph Inc. (MCCG).

330 patients are now without their medication. These include patients suffering from Cancer,HIV/AIDS, Hep C, MS, Spinal Cord Injury, among others. The actions by the Guelph Police show their lack of concern for the medical welfare of the citizens of Guelph. The POLICE ARE NOT DOCTORS and should not be interrupting patients’ treatment.

The MCCG is open and operating. We are currently unable to dispense medication to our patients, but are continuing our services of helping patients complete Health Canada MMAR applications, providing information on how to cultivate, ingest, and cook cannabis, sales of delivery mechanisms, and answering general inquiries about medical cannabis.

The MCCG was originally founded in order to fill the gap in the City of Guelph, between those who are chronically ill and desperately in need of adequate medicine, and the lack of a supply. The MCCG provides people with a choice of a variety of strains of cannabis allowing patients to select the strain of cannabis which best alleviate their symptoms.

The MCCG is a lawful corporation, with strict standards in place. The MCCG reports all sales to Revenue Canada, and has paid all owing income tax, CPP, and EI deductions.

The MCCG’s mission is to provide safe, clean, and reliable access to cannabis for disabled and chronically ill people in a supportive environment. We also help members achieve selfsustainability and independence by providing cannabis cuttings.

The MCCG would like to make two further points clear. The $10 000 seized was taken from Mr. Kovacevic’s house, and was for his wedding this summer. It is not related to the MCCG. While in custody, Mr. Kovacevic’s medical condition worsened making him unable to walk. Mr. Kovacevic was told by officers that if he couldn’t walk he would have to go to jail for the weekend as there were no accessible services or elevators available to get him to bail court. This is a violation of Mr. Kovacevic’s human rights, is discrimination on the basis of disability, and will be strongly litigated.

The Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph Inc. (MCCG) was established in 2006. The MCCG is a proud member of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Guelph Business Association.

It's Over

It's seems that the situation Downtown is over and the suspicious package has been neutralized. The full story is not yet known, but it does seem that it's back to business as usual in St George's Square.

According to the Guelph Mercury:

"About 1:45 p.m. an explosives device unit (EDU) from Waterloo Region sent a robot into the post office sorting room. At 3:29 a package was detonated inside the post office."

There's no word on when buses and all everything else will be back to normal downtown.

More news as it happens...

Bomb Threat Closes Much of Downtown

UPDATE -- The mood is calm and cool in the downtown right now. People are going about their business for the most part and a few gawkers are there to watch the police work. I just came back from the yellow police line in St George's Square, where I talked to one of the officers standing guard. His mood was good and he said that the bomb squad is looking at "the package" right now. Otherwise, they've got things under control.

"I saw the bomb disposal unit and Wyndham and Quebec are closed and I couldn’t go to the post office because it’s closed..."

That was the tip off, but I had already seen the closed section of Quebec St (at Norfolk) as I was on a bus diverted down to the River Run Centre. Here's what the Guelph Police have to say:

Suspicious Package

At approximately 12:00 pm this date the Guelph Police commenced an investigation into a suspicious package that was found at a local business on upper Wyndham St. in the downtown area. Police are following procedure and have evacuated some businesses in the immediate area. They have also closed down Wyndham St. between Quebec St. and Woolwich St. as well as Baker Street and Chapel Lane.

The safety of our citizens is paramount and we are asking that the public remain away from upper Wyndham Street for the time being.

We are confident that this situation will be resolved shortly and we will provide an update as soon as possible.

All city buses will be staging on Woolwich Street by the River Run until further notice.

If anyone has any further information, or has witnessed anything similar, please contact the Guelph Police Service at (519) 824-1212 or leave an anonymous tip at CRIME STOPPERS 1-800-222 TIPS (8477) or submit on-line at: www.crimestoppers-wellington.com.

More news as it develops

Monday, May 10, 2010

Scratching my Head Over Cannabis Club Bust

It came as big news last week when the Guelph Police raided the Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph, several private residences and arrested four people. But the bigger news: There's a Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph?

I guess having never needed their services, I've never had to seek them out, but they are (or perhaps were) right there on Baker Street, downtown, and been operating since 2006. They have an online presence, and operated openly and honestly servicing residents looking for a better quality cannabis than the government suppliers provide. Their website says that they're members of Guelph Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Guelph Business Association, which are hardly your average hippie, tree-hugging organizations.

So what happened? Because from the look of things, it seems the Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph was shut down for doing the very thing it was very candidly saying that it was doing.
This is from the Guelph Police Media Room last Friday:

On May 6th, 2010 at 3:25pm, members of the Guelph Police Drug, Intelligence Unit, Coordinated Enforcement Team and Uniform Division executed Controlled Drugs and Substances Act search warrants at the Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph 62 Baker Street and 5 other addresses on Dublin Street, London Road, Arrow Road and Quebec Street Guelph. As a result four people were arrested for trafficking, possessing a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking and production of a controlled substance.

“Our investigation has revealed that The Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph has illegally sold marihuana and hashish” commented Sgt Doug Pflug-Guelph Police Media spokesperson. “Health Canada sets clear guidelines and regulations for the use of medically sanctioned marihuana use and these individuals operated outside those guidelines and regulations.”

I decided to go to the Health Canada website to look up the guidelines and regulations that the press release spoke of. Now you can apply through Health Canada to get a permit to possess marijuana, but you can only get that pot under certain conditions. From the Health Canada website:

Holders of an authorization to possess can currently obtain marihuana for medical purposes from three possible sources:
  • They can apply for access to purchase dried marihuana from Health Canada;
  • They can grow their own supply; or
  • They can designate someone else to grow it for them.
So yeah, I guess the MCCoG was in violation, but again I'm curious, what took police so long? According to an initial post on the Guelph Mercury website, "Last year, city police revealed they were investigating the organization after receiving inquiries about its operations from local doctors who had been approached by patients to sign prescription forms for use at the club."

Okay. I'm still confused. Here's from another Guelph Mercury article:

Court heard Friday, when all four accused made a bail appearance, that in April, Guelph Police began investigating alleged illegal sales of controlled substances out of the cannabis club on Baker Street. The club, which opened more than three years ago, dispenses medical marijuana and has grown to about 240 members.

At least three undercover officers acquired licences from the club, which doesn’t have the authorization to issue a licence to possess marijuana, said federal Crown attorney David Doney. With the licences, they were able to purchase marijuana and hashish on several occasions from the club staff, he said.

Guelph Police spokesperson Sergeant Doug Pflug said only one of the accused had a Health Canada licence to possess or grow 30 marijuana plants. The other three individuals didn’t have licences and [Rade] Kovacevic was still in the application process with Health Canada.

So while there is a decent legal argument that can be made that the MCCoG were in violation of the law, but the fact that they were recognized as lawful, tax-paying business for so long shows that there's this huge grey area so far as this country's drug laws are concerned. Every April 20th, hundreds of University of Guelph students blaze up on Johnston Green and there's never any sign of riot cops, and I can't imagine that the Police Service don't know about what happens on the grass one day every April.

So what's going on? Why the sliding scale in the treatment of the possession of marijuana? Why the sudden push on to clamp down on the Cannabis Club? Not to sound cynical, but between this and another recent major drug bust, one might think that this is an election year. Having spent the afternoon with this issue, I'm still left with as many questions as answers...

There's supposed to be a rally tomorrow in front of Guelph City Hall and another protest this Saturday afternoon in St. George's Square. The accused will appear in court again on May 31st.

No Jefferson, says City

Well, it seems that the first best reason not to build the Hanlon Creek Business Park has been disproven according to a City press release this morning. According to the salamander monitoring program, no trace of the reptile has been found on the HCBP lands.

Read it and weep, my friends.

GUELPH, ON, May 10, 2010 – Results of the recently completed salamander monitoring program indicate no Jefferson Salamander presence within the Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP) lands.

Natural Resource Solutions Inc. completed a comprehensive salamander monitoring program at the site between March 11 and April 30, on behalf of the City of Guelph, Belmont Equity (HCBP) Holdings Ltd. and Guelph Land Holdings Ltd. The monitoring program was developed in consultation with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Guelph District Office, City staff and Dr. Jim Bogart, Chair of the Jefferson Salamander Recovery Team.

The monitoring program included 5.5 kilometres of drift fencing, 122 minnow traps and 611 pitfall traps to monitor location and direction of salamander movement to and from potential breeding grounds. The monitoring program was undertaken during peak salamander breeding season when salamanders begin emerging from their overwintering sites and migrating to breeding ponds.

Thirteen salamanders were captured and sampled during the monitoring program. DNA extraction and analysis was then performed at the University of Guelph by Dr. Bogart. In all cases, the DNA analysis found no presence of pure Jefferson salamanders or Jefferson-dominated polyploids (Jefferson-dominated unisexuals).

“In consultation with Dr. Jim Bogart and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, we have concluded that there is no Jefferson Salamander presence on the Hanlon Creek Business Park lands,” stated Mayor Karen Farbridge. “We will move forward with our plans to service and develop these important employment lands and grow jobs in our community while ensuring excellence in environmental protection and restoration. In Guelph, sustainability and prosperity go hand in hand.”

On May 7, 2010 the City received confirmation from the MNR, Guelph District that the 2010 salamander monitoring program was rigorous enough to ascertain the presence of Jefferson Salamanders on the site. Based on the results of the program, the MNR, Guelph District also stated that there are no requirements for authorizations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the HCBP and that no agreement or permit under the ESA is required to proceed with development of the business park.

The City will be moving forward with the development of the HCBP subdivision as approved by the Ontario Municipal Board in November 2006. The 2010 salamander monitoring program has provided additional information on the location and movement of other amphibians within the HCBP subdivision. This additional information will be used to consider design refinements and to undertake measures for wildlife protection during construction activities.

Do you suppose this means the end of the resistance to the HCBP?

Yeah. I didn't think so either...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Valeriote-Chong Super Team-Up Motion

I got a press release the other day and it talked about the impossible: bi-partisanship. Frank Valeriote's office sent out a press release talking about our MP's seconding a motion by Wellington-Halton Hills (and Conservative MP) Michael Chong in the Commons calling for stronger accountability in Parliament by recommending a number of sensible reforms to Question Period. Read on to learn more:

OTTAWA - Guelph MP Frank Valeriote has seconded a motion tabled by Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong to reform Question Period in the House of Commons. The motion aims to strengthen accountability in Parliament by recommending a number of sensible reforms to Question Period that seek to:
  • Elevate decorum and fortify the use of discipline by the Speaker,
  • Lengthen the amount of time given for each question and answer,
  • Require that Ministers respond to questions directed at them,
  • Allocate half the questions each day for backbench Members,
  • Dedicate Wednesday exclusively for questions to the Prime Minister, and
  • Dedicate the rest of the week for questions to Ministers other than the Prime Minister
“Some months ago I approached Michael in the hope that we would be able to collaborate on issues across party lines, and this is how we chose to do it. Hopefully it is just the beginning” said Valeriote. “I am proud to have been able to lend my voice to this effort. The reforms proposed in this motion are long overdue and the motion itself is a statement to all of Parliament and to Canadians that MPs of different parties can work together on important issues.”

Valeriote said he is encouraged by the support that the motion has already received, and noted that 19 other MPs from three different parties have chosen to second the motion as well.

“I think that the support for this motion speaks to the appetite for change that exists here amongst parliamentarians from across Canada. This issue was on my mind before I was even elected.” said Valeriote. “The fact of the matter is that Canadian democracy would be better served and our representatives more empowered if these changes were implemented.

“I respect Michael and I commend him for the strong stance that he took in tabling this motion. We have often spoken of the need to make Question Period less confrontational- where questions can be asked and answered in a meaningful way- and where the level of conversation is visibly improved and the confidence and engagement of the public is restored. These changes are suggestions, but it is our hope that they will serve as the foundation for conservation." Valeriote concluded.

Should the motion pass the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs will consider these reforms in detail and report back to the House of Commons with recommendations within six months.

On the flip side, this is what a Chong press release had to say:

A growing number of Canadians are disengaging from the political process. When citizens disengage, the very legitimacy of this institution is at risk.

Canadians across the country may not be able to put their finger on exactly what ails our institutions, but they know that something is wrong.

That is why I want to commend the Minister for Democratic Reform for introducing a number of bills, including Bill C-12, which demonstrates the government's commitment to institutional renewal.

The heart of our democracy is Parliament, and the heart of Parliament is Question Period.

Through the national media, millions of Canadians follow question period each and every day. I am optimistic that parliamentary reform can reconnect Canadians who feel disengaged by political behaviour that would not be tolerated around the kitchen table.

That is why we will be introducing motion M-517, a proposal that asks the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine specific changes to reform Question Period. I ask members of this House to consider this motion and to lend it their support.

I've heard Valeriote talk a lot about reaching across party lines and promoting more decorum in the House of Commons, and I think we can all agree that it's desperately needed.

I'll be sure to have more if there's any movement on this issue.

The Next Episode

Following quickly on the press conference from a few weeks ago, it seems opponents of the Hanlon Creek Business PArk are moving swiftly to make it known that they're still here and they're still opposed to the project. Today was a day of action the vocal grassroots group of community volunteers against the construction of the HCBP, and they focused some of that anger on developer Carson Reid. Here's a press release that was sent out earlier today:

Over the last decade a variety of organizations and individual citizens have clearly outlined why development of the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex (HCWC) simply cannot be allowed. Environmental impacts of developing in an area as significant as this cannot be ignored or green washed. Indigenous treaty rights cannot be disregarded and public outcry must be heard and respected.

Today, Friday May 7, 2010, is a day of action to defend the HCWC. For that reason people gathered to distribute flyers providing information on some of the nastier things Carson Reid has been involved in. As well, at 10:15AM, a group of individuals set out to the Carson Reid head office to halt work for the day and dropped a banner from its roof.

Why Carson Reid one might ask?

On November 2, 2009 a post on the Ward 2 Guelph blog outlined a plan where by Carson Reid’s would develop about an acre of the HCWC for the construction of a residential housing block.

Through their involvement with the Dolime Quarry, Carson Reid has shown that they are not interested in acting in a way that benefits all of Guelph, but instead put our water supply at risk for the sake of profit. The Ministry of the Environment has advised that in order to protect drinking water, aggregate extraction needs to be temporarily stopped, but operations continue at the quarry.

Then there was the illegal clear cutting, which occurred near the intersections of Victoria road and Maltby road. Carson Reid attempted to justify their actions with the flimsy explanation that they were harvesting a tree plantation for fence posts. The area is question act as a corridor between the Mill Creek and Hanlon Creek watersheds. For their actions they were fined under the Migratory Birds Act and charged under Guelph’s bylaws.

We intend to do everything in our power to prevent development on any remaining part of the HCWC. We will do everything in our power to uphold indigenous treaty rights. We will halt sprawl.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Check out SharpCuts Starting Tomorrow

Time for some shameless self-promotion. I'm one of the organizers of the SharpCuts Indie Film & Music Festival in Guelph, and it kicks off tomorrow night and runs through till Sunday. And while this is hardly political related, I encourage all you Politico readers to come out either one night, or every night to see some great, local indie cinema, some of which may also feature certain people that run certain political blogs. Check out the details below:

The SharpCuts Indie Film and Music Festival returns for its fourth smash year, with an expanded line-up of new events and old favourites. This is also the first ever Spring edition of SharpCuts too, which will unfold in 2010 from May 5th till 9th at various locations throughout Guelph

Wednesday May 5th – The Synnema (121 Wyndham St, Suite #106)
Comedy Night Kick-Off featuring funny shorts and live comedy

Thursday May 6th – The Synnema (121 Wyndham St, Suite #106)
Thursday Night Thriller with all the horror and scary stuff you can stand

Friday May 7th – The Synnema (121 Wyndham St, Suite #106)
Freestyle Friday. Come see the finest musicians work without a well-rehearsed net for some great improvised music

Saturday May 8th – Bookshelf Cinema (41 Quebec St)
The biggest program of the festival begins with ScienceCUTS, a celebration/discussion about arts and science as part of Science Rendezvous. The Docs and Dramas series follows with a number of independently made documentaries and short films.

Later... Red Brick Cafe (8 Douglas St)
Saturday evening is the annual SharpCuts Schmoozefest Gala, where filmmakers and audience members can interact in a laid back atmosphere and enjoy a brew. Jury and audience prize winners will also be announced.

Sunday May 9th – Galaxy Cinemas Guelph (485 Woodlawn Rd W)
The Blended Film Challenge screening. Come see the results of the second annual challenge as local high school students combine three randomly selected genres and turn them into a film in just two weeks.

For all updated info and the latest breaking news about the festival, go to the website at http://www.sharpcuts.ca

New Candidate for Ward 1

Yesterday, Eugene Gromczynski threw his hat in the ring to become the fourth candidate running in Ward 1 for the municipal election this fall. Gromczynski ran in the 2006 election and finished fifth out of five candidates.

If you're interested, I did a questionnaire with Gromczynski during the 2006 Election when I was editor of thecannon.ca. You can read it by clicking this hyperlinked phrase.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Turmoil on Transit (AKA Mutiny on the Bus)

If you've rode on transit lately, you'll have witnessed a growing, but silent, sense of disgruntlement from the drivers. You might recognize these flyers, either taped up on bus shelters, left out in public areas or slipped to dedicated riders on the Q.T.

In no uncertain terms these flyers say that the members of the transit union are fed up, and they're trying to rally support from loyal transit users to kick up a storm. Smart strategy considering that the city's bus lines are returning to 30 minute service all week long for three months starting in June, there's going to be no Sunday service at all in August, and from the U-pass to adult tickets, everybody's seen a fare increase in the last couple of months.

Transit workers have got their own reasons to be ticked too. About 31 transit employees will be laid off between June and August, or otherwise have their hours severely cut back. This while the City talks about the priority of transit and all its future plans, which kind of comes off looking like a lot of double speak. In the meantime, the drivers, the front line workers, probably are taking the brunt of the abuse for all of transit's recent shortfalls.

Below is a scan of the one side of the flyer. The opposite side had all the contact info for Mayor and council:

On a second note, I came across this the other night while riding the bus home:

What? You ask. Sure it's a little in advanced... But actually, this is from October 2005. How do I know? Because I remember this event being advertised when I was working my first ever journalism job as Arts & Culture Editor of the University of Guelph Ontarion.

But this leads to a question I've had about transit for awhile. We have all this ad space on city buses and the only ones who seem to use it anymore are various levels of government and the Central Student Association. Furthermore, many of the ads you do see are horribly outdated. Isn't this another revenue stream that can be accessed, thus making sure that the city doesn't have to resort to amended service hours to make up extra cash in the budget?

I'm interested in knowing why this [ample] space continues to go unused. Is it a time issue? No one has time to chase down potential advertisers? Or is this a class thing? Only people of limited means can ride the bus, people that don't have a lot of disposable income lying around. Ergo, they're not worth the time and money to advertise to. Ergo, no one will advertise on the city buses.

I hope this is not the case, because it just perpetuates a negative and wholly nonfactual point of view that public transit is for poor people only. Still, I would love to know where all the advertising went on our city buses.