30 years. If today's groundbreaking of the Wilson Street Parkade was a drinking game, the key phrase would be "30 years". In remarks before the groundbreaking, Mayor Cam Guthrie, Chief Administrative Office Derrick Thomson, and executive director of the Downtown Guelph Business Association Marty Williams wanted to make sure everybody knows that this is the first new parkade in the city's core in 30 years.
"It's the city's first parkade in 30 years," said Thomson after thanking everyone for coming. "Let's think about that for a moment: 30 years. I would suggest it's well over due."
"Downtown Guelph is a busy and vibrant core for our city, it's a venue that's well loved for events and public activities year 'round, it's connected to our transit hub, which makes downtown more accessible than ever, and it's a destination for those that that live here, and those that visit," Thomson added. "When completed, the Wilson Parkade will make it easier for our citizens and visitors to enjoy all of downtown, and everything that Guelph has to offer, and did I mention '30 years.'"
"The Downtown Guelph Business Association is in full support of building sufficient parking infrastructure to support all users," said Williams. "Parking is a necessary part of how a place works, how it grows and how it prospers. The parking supply in Downtown Guelph has not kept up with the demand all these years, and as with any small city where more people come into the city to work than leave, car use will remain the dominate form of transportation."
"So it's a good news story today," Williams added. "After all these years, after 30 years, we're adding to the parking inventory, we're supporting the economy, growing our tax base, helping local stores and restaurants, as well as offices and our cultural sector."
"This is about economic development in our downtown," said Guthrie, who pointed to the expanded number of businesses in the Petrie Building as an example. "It is so important to have a project like this."
"I was joking with Marty that 30 years ago I couldn't even drive downtown, I was 12, so this is a wonderful, wonderful thing for our city," Guthrie joked.
The new parkade will add more than 400 parking spaces to Downtown Guelph's parking inventory as well as bicycle parking, charging stations for electric vehicles, elevators for improved accessibility, and a new pedestrian bridge over Norfolk that will allow access to parkade.
It was also acknowledge that construction is hard on local businesses, and Thomson pledged that city staff is going to work tirelessly "to make sure this is a smooth transition" for them as well.
"We will work to make the sure that the impact of construction be mitigated, and to remind people that the great shoppes and restaurants are all open for business," Williams added.
"To the citizens of Guelph, please come down and support the businesses that around this construction site for the next little while," Guthrie said. "I really encourage you to come down, find parking, and take the time to walk up and down the street and support the local businesses around the construction site."