City Hall: Stop wasting everyone’s time and money on this non-starter of an idea

And let the Wellington Plaza business owners and their staff get on with their livelihoods. And their lives.

I came across this article from the Guelph Mercury’s Rob O’Flanagan, regarding the City’s intention to buy up and demolish commercial buildings to make way for a far-off and unlikely future Wellington Street park element.

Ben Bennett’s column in the Guelph Mercury red-circles something I had been wondering about — why we are looking at spending an incredible amount of money to undevelop one corner of Wellington and Gordon while being open to developing another?

I agree with Scott Tracey (and Ben) that the area behind the plaza, a strip wedged between the plaza and the Speed River is less than uplifting, as urban riverscapes go. But I have to disagree with Scott on the issue of greater good. And it seems from Rob’s article that this plan has already negatively impacted a business located in that area.

Here is some background thanks to a May 2012 Guelph Mercury article by Scott.

Four points for consideration:

Possibly, this commercial land — prime real estate — will be redeveloped at some point, at the expense of private interests, during which time City Hall can ensure better integration of the site with the neighbouring parks and abutting riverscape. It’s a longer-term approach to the area, yes, but it doesn’t exclude the potential for someone other than City Hall of doing something fantastic with that site, while enhancing the economic base. That means goods and services and jobs…

Also, why is City Hall intent on forfeiting future fees and property taxes, in addition to taking on the costs of environmental assessments and unknown necessary environmental remediation costs related to that site?

After the properties have been bought and studied and the buildings demolished, trucked away, the site further studied, dug up and leveled and studied and dug up some more and then leveled, after the planning of the park, and the building of it… and the loss of revenue associated with that, we then have to pay to maintain it in perpetuity.

And, on the matter of maintaining what we’ve got, why are we planning to taking on all of that, and adding to our parkland in that area of the city, when our existing parks and related infrastructure need investments?

What are we putting on hold city-wide and not doing as part of making this project happen?

I can’t help but to wonder if this idea has been put out there just to say, “We thought of it, it’s our idea, weren’t we visionary” in the slim likelihood that it is proposed in the future. And perhaps, to force someone’s hand to end it, and sensibly, hopefully soon.

About Craig Chamberlain

Ward 3 Guelph resident, dad and step-dad.
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