About the Blog:

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

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Civic League Announced

This was passed around via the GCL's Facebook group yesterday. It's no secret that the group's been rather directionless lately, which is not such a great thing for a civic action committee to be going into an election year. I hope that the Guelph Civic League's reshuffling will give them the step up they need to reclaim their place as an important voice in the public square. Still, one wonders what role they'll play in this year's municipal election...

The Guelph Civic League Announces Its New Executive Committee

Guelph, Ontario – A new executive committee has been elected to continue the work of the Guelph Civic League in 2010-2011. Kevin Ferraro and Sharon Lewis, both new to the Guelph Civic League, have agreed to act as co-presidents of the organization. Annie O'Donoghue will continue to act as past president. Other positions were filled as follows:

Treasurer - Anne Gardner
Secretary - Clare Irwin
Membership / Outreach Coordinator - Kathie Lamie
Events Coordinator - Susan Ratcliffe
Communications Coordinator - Dave Sills
Campus Outreach Coordinator - Anastasia Zavarella (CSA Local Affairs Commissioner)

The members of the executive committee are excited about their new roles and anxious to build on the work of past executive committee members.

Founded in 2004, the Guelph Civic League is committed to keeping citizens informed and working towards a local democracy that is inclusive, participatory, transparent and accountable. The Guelph Civic League can be found on the web at guelphcivicleague.ca.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Revolution Starts in Guelph (Apparently)

Guelph was the place that Sylvie Lemieux, a former Lt. Colonel in the Canadian Forces and accomplished civil engineer, launched her campaign to succeed Elizabeth May as Green Party of Canada leader last Saturday.

The setting was the backyard of the home of Bob Bell. Bell, the locally acclaimed candidate for the Green Party in the next federal election, who was hosting a barbecue get-together for local Greens. Lemieux made her announcement as the clock winds down on an August 2nd vote by party members on constitutional changes that would stymie the requirement for a leadership contest before the end of 2010. This is the fourth year of May’s four year term as leader of the Green Party of Canada, but with the near constant spectre of a federal election, May has been advocating that now’s not the time for a potentially divisive leadership contest.

“There are several people who will run for leadership when there is a leadership race and by far the numbers of people who want to run for leadership don’t want to have a leadership race before the next election,” May told the Globe and Mail. “They don’t think it will be in the best interests of the party.”

Lemieux, obviously, disagrees. ““This is not about running against Elizabeth May,” Lemieux told the Globe. “This is about creating a better option for Canadians by building the party into a true contender that's more attuned to Canadians from coast to coast.”

At Saturday’s barbecue, Bell, our local man in Green, was noncommittal, but believed that the party needed to look at their leadership situation head on. “Elizabeth has been the leader for four years, so it’s time to ask the question, and Sylvie is doing so,” Bell said. “There’s been this possible impending election for a year and a half and I believe that’s why our leadership issue has been pushed back.”

Still, it’s interesting that Lemieux would choose Guelph to make her declaration of interest in heading the Green Party. Our sorted little berg has long been considered a possible “breakthrough” riding for the party, and in the past two elections (the 2007 Provincial and the 2008 Federal) the Green candidate finished third. As for that elusive next Federal election, Lemieux says don’t worry because Prime Minister Stephen Harper “has no incentive to get into an election before [2011].”

For the sake of my political sanity I'm banking on their not being both a Federal and Municipal election this fall.

Read the Mercury story here.
Read the Globe story here.

Photo courtesy of the Guelph Mercury.

The City is Closed (Part 3 of 5)

Thinking of going to the library today? Filing some papers at City Hall? Chilling out at the rec centre? Well forget it! Today is the third of five planned days off for the City of Guelph resulting from the 2010 budget crunch. The closures this time, as have the two previous days off, also affect garbage pick-up. So if you live in the northeast area of the city and have put out your garbage, you might want to bring it back in before it gets any more rank out sitting in the summer air. To see when your area is affected, check the map at this link.

And as another not-so-friendly reminder, Guelph Transit will be doing their final Sunday run this weekend before the August shutdown. There will be no buses on Sundays in August, also as a result of the budget crisis. Not to fret though because the return to full service is, thankfully, just over a month away.

Apparently, there's been some difficulty in getting the word out about these closures. Why? I don't know. Still, check out Echo Weekly today for my civic engagement guide 2010. (Plug of the Day!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Courthouse Near Ready

If you're going to court for a provincial offense in August, look on the brightside: at least you'll get a look at the newly converted provincial court offices in the Old City Hall. Check out the press release below:

GUELPH, ON, July 16, 2010 – The renovation and restoration of Guelph’s historic City Hall building at 59 Carden Street is nearing completion, and the City’s Court Services division is preparing to move in at the end of the month.

Guelph’s Provincial Court will continue to operate at its current location at 55 Wyndham Street, inside Old Quebec Street Shops, until 12 p.m. on July 30. Operations will start at 8:30 a.m. on August 3 at 59 Carden Street.

"We’re excited about the move into 59 Carden," says Brad Coutts, "There will still be some work going on after opening day, but a full trial court schedule is prepared and the new courthouse will be open and serving the community."

The building at 59 Carden Street was designed by William Thomas and built in 1856 using locally quarried Lockport Dolomite. Its exterior features were designated as historically significant by the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee in 1978.

Renovations over the past year have restored many of the interior heritage features including ceilings, archways and cast iron columns. A number of sculptural details have also been replicated throughout the building.

A new section was added to the rear of the building to accommodate the judicial operations of Guelph’s Provincial Offences Court. "We will be preparing a schedule to allow for everyone to see the finished project over the coming months," added Coutts. "With the courthouse next to City Hall, plus the landscaping and rink on Carden Street we’re creating a Civic centrepiece; a great place to welcome residents and visitors to the centre of the city."

The Slate Grows....

So it appears that my prediction that things on the municipal ballot would be relatively quiet through to the end of summer was a wee bit off with several new additions to the slate of candidates in just the last week.

First, veteran councillor Gloria Kovach became the name on the first hat thrown into the ring for Ward 4 when she announced a few days. ago The same day Peter Bortolon joined the growing race for Ward 1 and was joined one day later by Gary Walton. This brings the total of candidates running in the Ward 1 race up to seven.

And last week, Leanne Piper joined her Ward 5 incumbent Lise Burcher on the ballot by officially declaring her nomination. So far, Piper and Burcher are the only candidates in Ward 5.

Below is the (new) complete ballot:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Film Screening For G20 Prisoners

Activists of Guelph unite! An evening of movie-watching in the open air of the Goldie Mill Park ruins has been arranged to raise funds for local protestors still detained by the police following arrests made during the G20.

The film being screened is called Lucio: Anarchist, Forger, Bank robber. Bricklayer. It's about noted Spanish anarchist Lucio Urtubia, a man who's quite literally a modern Robin Hood. The film will start around 8:30 pm and the admission is by donation. Below you will find a synopsis of the film, which does sound like an interesting profile of a fascinating man (regardless of how your politics may perceive him).



There are plenty of anarchists in the world. Many have committed robbery or smuggling for their cause. Fewer have discussed strategies with Che Guevara or saved the skin of Eldridge Cleaver – the leader of the Black Panthers. There is only one who has done all that, and also brought to its knees the most powerful bank on the planet by forging travellers cheques, without missing a single day of work in his construction job. He is Lucio Urtubia, from a tiny village in Navarra in North of Spain.

Lucio has been protagonist and witness to many of the historic events of the second half of the 20th century. His family was persecuted by Franco’s regime, he was on the streets of Paris for the phenomenon of May of ’68, he actively supported Castro’s revolution, he helped thousands of exiled people by providing false documents to them… But without a doubt, his greatest triumph came in the second half of the seventies. The press called him “the good bandit”, or the “Basque Zorro”. He managed to swindle 25 million dollars from the First National Bank (now Citibank), to later invest the money in causes he believed in. Miraculously, he spent no more than a few months in jail throughout his “career”.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Anti Abortion Group Makes Stop in Guelph

Those in rush hour traffic heading home through the downtown tonight probably didn't miss the some 30 some-odd anti-abortion protesters with the group Show the Truth Canada picketing there. Stationed at the corner of Woolwich at Eramosa, the group stood by the roadside holding large, graphic photographs and handing out full-colour pamphlets.

According to the group's website, Show the Truth is "a non-denominational mission dedicated to showing the truth of abortion to the Canadian public. Show the Truth is committed to peaceful and legal means of pro-life education, through displaying large photographs of abortion and distributing literature."

I was able to talk briefly with Rosemary Connell who was managing today's demonstration downtown which was one of three, 90-minute stops in Guelph, part of swing through the greater Hamilton area by the group. According to Connell, a man in Brantford invited the group to make a stop in the area, as Stop the Truth is available to groups, individuals or political parties that request their help demonstrating against abortion.

The Show the Truth protesters seemed to cover a wide range of ages and backgrounds, and although I'm not sure if any one from Guelph was involved in the demonstration, Connell said local people are more than welcome to come out and join them on the line.

As for reaction, it seemed to run the spectrum from engaged to disinterested. Many people on the street seemed amused by the sudden appearance of these protestors. Connell says that her and her group love a good debate on the street. Some Guelphites were happy to oblige, she says, others were sympathetic to their cause. At least one person I saw expressed himself through colourful metaphors and honking his horn as his car drove by.

As for the graphic nature of their materials, Connell says her group is merely "providing a hard dose of reality" by showing the "hidden victims" of abortion. And to people who identify as pro-choice, she says of the photographs that "This is what it is" and that they should "face what you support."

Of course, graphic images of any medical procedure are difficult to look at; I believe that was the point when the Ontario Government started putting diseased lungs on cigarette packages. It's also interesting that Guelph became a stop in this protest tour given the fact that, to my knowledge, Guelph doesn't have an abortion clinic. Still, this isn't the first time the abortion debate has crept in to the public discourse in the last little while. I wonder if it's a sign of things to come.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stay Cool Courtesy of the CoG

All these hot temperatures lately are making me think of going someplace a little more temperate, like sub-Saharan Africa. The City of Guelph though is offering a reprieve for people that want to chill out and are a little deficient in the A/C department.

GUELPH, ON, July 6, 2010 – As a result of the hot temperatures this week, the City of Guelph has extended the hours at wading pools and splash pads and opened the Sleeman Centre to help residents cool off.

Extended hours are as follows:

Sleeman Centre: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Wading pools: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
Splash pads: Norm Jary: Wednesday 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. & Thursday 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
Hanlon Creek: Wednesday 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m. & Thursday 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
West End Community Centre: Wednesday & Thursday 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

Residents are reminded that Guelph's community centres are also great places to keep cool. Community Centre hours are as follows:

Evergreen Seniors Community Centre: Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
West End Community Centre: Monday to Friday 6 a.m.-11 p.m. & Saturdays and Sundays 6 a.m.-5 p.m.
Victoria Road Recreation Centre: Wednesday 2-5 p.m. & Thursday 2-4 p.m. for public swims
Lyons Pool: 10 a.m.–12 noon, 1–4 p.m., 5–8 p.m.
Centennial Pool: 1–4 p.m. for public swims

Residents can also use City Hall as a cooling centre from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. Chairs and water will be available in the lobby of City Hall. The public is asked to bring refillable water bottles. Pitchers and glasses will also be provided.

Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health advises people to stay out of the sun, drink lots of water, limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours and stay in air conditioned places. Seniors and young children are particularly at risk during heat and smog-related weather conditions. Residents are encouraged to call or visit family, friends and neighbours to make sure they are okay, especially isolated adults and seniors, who are at greater risk of suffering from heat-related illness.

Environment Canada expects the hot, hazy and humid conditions to continue today through Thursday. For more information on heat safety, visit Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health.

Additionally, City Hall is open weekdays between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm. Bring a refillable water bottle because you can also get something to drink while you're there.

Stay cool, Guelph.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Protest After the Protest

There a lot of unanswered qustions lingering from last weekend's G20 Meeting in Toronto and the (near) fatal beatings that were administered there, and since Dalton McGuinty's cool with everything, I guess others have decided to take up the charge. This shouldn't be surprising given the fact that Guelph activists were arrested last weekend, but Guelph will join Edmonton in staging protests over police action during the G20.

To all print & electronic media

What: Family Friendly Rally and Testimonial Reading
When: Monday July 5th at 6pm
Where: Guelph City Hall
Why: For Civil Liberties and Democratic Rights!

June 25th-27th, Toronto saw a meeting of the leaders of 20 major countries in Toronto. They met at a time when the economies they manage are in a deep crisis, inflicted by their own policies. Their aim at the G8 and G20 summits was to hash out a plan to transfer the costs of this global crisis onto working people, while ignoring the growing environmental crisis.

This past weekend Toronto saw one of the most terrifying shows of police repression in Canadian history. The volume of reports - of attacks on protesters not even engaged in property destruction, on demonstrators seated in the ‘designated protest zone’, on journalists and passers-by; of threats of physical and sexual violence; and of actual physical and sexual assaults – does not suggest that in a massive sea of riot police, several officers, under severe stress, made mistakes or off-colour remarks. It suggests that orders were given to disregard our civil liberties and democratic rights.

The City of Guelph's resources also had a hand in the shameful events that unfolded last weekend. Guelph Police sent 13 Guelph officers to the G8-G20 Summit Integrated Security Unit as well as a canine team. Ten of those officers were involved in front line police duties.

30,000 demonstrated in Toronto during the G8 and G20 summits, refusing to accept the attacks on working people around the world. What we saw in response was an attempt to criminalize dissent and protest. This cannot be allowed. We will be gathering at City Hall on Monday, July 5th to speak out against attempts to silence those that exercise their democratic rights and to demand an independent public inquiry into police actions and into who ordered these abuses take place.

*** if you or someone you know were a victim of police brutality or have a testimonial to read on behalf of yourself or someone else please email: demandg20inquiry@gmail.com

*** crisis counseling will be available at the rally

For more information email or to contact organizers please email: demandg20inquiry@gmail.com

Friday, July 2, 2010

Notes from a Kindred Spirit

I found it fitting that the Guelph Tribune would print this letter on Canada Day, which, unlike last Canada Day, left people who might have otherwise taken the bus to the festivities in Riverside Park, at home without a paddle, so to speak.

The letter is from Michelle M. Ransier of Guelph and it's called "Staunch supporter no more." It's about her disgruntlement with Guelph Transit, and about how, like I predicted in this week's Guelph Beat column, she's giving up on the system.

I repost her letter in solidarity becuase I think she's the rule, not the exception. While the city pats itself on the back for reshuffling management and moving forward with an all-in-one transit hub, one of the basic services it offers to citizens is going down the crapper. And no one in a position of authority to do anything about seems to give a damn.

I am writing to lodge complaints against Guelph Transit. I was, at one time, the greatest defender of this vital city service.

But, as a result of what has transpired in recent weeks, I am compelled to reverse my support. I had depended on this essential service to carry out my job as a home health care professional. In the past, I was able to do just that, diligently. However, in the recent past, this is anything but the case.

I am well aware of the fact there is a major problem in Guelph concerning the transit system, our very, very inept members of city council, the mayor included, and the bus-riding public. It's very apparent that it's those of us dependent on the transit system who are paying the ultimate price! We are caught in the crossfire! Being held hostage, so to speak.

I am sick and tired of constantly missing my transfer connections in the square, while transit operators make their point with city hall. This has nothing whatsoever to do with me or anyone else riding the transit system, and yet it is making my work life a total misery!

I am arriving late, over and over and over again, and this is taking its toll on myself and those I deal with on a daily basis – vulnerable, elderly clients.

I feel many transit operators are deliberately driving as slowly as possible. Already 10 minutes down, and stopping at Tim Hortons for a coffee? You know who you are.

I supported all of you in your cause early on in this struggle. But enough is enough. I cannot and will not tolerate any more of this nonsense.

The City of Guelph is so terribly backward and lacking in so many ways, from city hall on down. It's probably time I left Guelph and headed back to my home town.

I have had a driver’s licence for more than 25 years now, so it is high time I bought myself a car, did away with this juvenile nonsense and let Guelph Transit and city hall duke it out.

Good luck to all of you!

Michelle M. Ransier Guelph

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Innovation is Coming

From the "Hey, maybe this will stifle some of those HST grumbles" file, comes word that the Government of Ontario and the City of Guelph has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in regards to the City's plan for the Guelph Innovation District. Now off the top, an MOU sounds a bit like when you tell your buddy that you'll get the next round when he buys your beer, but you say you've got to get home before it comes to that, but apparently, this is big news.

"The MOU signed today commits a portion of provincially-owned land in the district to the city’s plan to create this new, innovative employment area," said a joint press release. "This is part of the province’s Open Ontario Plan to help create clean, green jobs and support innovation."

But don't take some faceless press release's word for it:

“Moving Ontario toward a cleaner, brighter, more prosperous future is not only about generating new renewable energy, but about fostering research and innovation in cities like Guelph," said Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, who was actually in town for the announcement. "Today’s MOU signifies our commitment to working with the city of Guelph to bring an Innovation District to life on these lands.”

“Guelph residents will welcome this Memorandum of Understanding which sets out a joint vision for the future development of the provincial lands in Guelph’s York District," said our own MPP Liz Sandals. "The Guelph Innovation District plan brings together an exciting blend of green jobs, cutting edge innovation, and environmentally-friendly places to live and do business that will benefit our community for years to come.”

“Home to as many as 5000 people and 10,000 jobs, these lands will bring together the best and brightest minds to address provincial and global environmental and technological challenges," said Mayor Karen Farbridge. "As a carbon neutral LEED-Neighbourhood, this urban village will demonstrate new approaches and technologies to manage the urban environment redefining our experience of city living.”

The end game: The City of Guelph anticipates the District will accommodate 10,000 of the 32,400 jobs projected for the City by the year 2031. The Guelph Innovation District is bounded by York Road, Victoria Road South, the York-Watson Industrial Park and the City’s southern border and almost half of it is owned by the province.