If Only We Had Known It Was Out of Order 3 Weeks Ago...

Monday's epic dog park meeting was a three-hour tutorial on how council works.

Welcome to the Guelph Politico Tip Sheet, a twice-a-week newsletter meant to “tip” you off about some of the important stuff going on in the Royal City. It arrives directly in your inbox on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The two-and-a-half week rail blockade outside Bellville in the territory of the Tyendinaga Mohawks was ended when officers of the OPP moved in early on Monday morning. Ten protestors were arrested after they refused to leave the area, but they were later given a conditional release without charges. No level of government took credit for sending the OPP in to break up the blockade, and the OPP said that they were enforcing an injunction filed by CN Rail in Ontario Superior Court earlier this month. Meanwhile, members of the Six Nations of Grand River have started blocking Highway #6 near Caledonia.

Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development Maryam Monsef was the latest Liberal cabinet minister to make a stop at the University of Guelph on Friday. Monsef talked to researchers at the U of G about the challenges of expanding broadband internet to rural areas, and then she talked to me for this week’s episode of Open Sources (see below)!

Before marching at the Progressive Conservative policy convention on Saturday, teachers across the province spent their Friday on strike, including right here in Guelph. While the English Catholic teachers called off their rotating strikes for this week, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) is full speed head on there one-day strikes, which will affect high schools in both the Upper Grand District and Wellington Catholic District school boards this coming Friday.

Also in the News…

LUMCO gave a wish list to provincial ministers in advanced of next month’s budget.

Guelph’s Safe Consumption Site has received $300,000 more in annual funding from the Province, which will allow them to continue programs through to January 2023. Good thing, because Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health says that there were 23 confirmed opioid-related deaths in 2019, and potentially seven more that are being investigated. That would be an increase of four from 2018.

Lakeside HOPE House raised $95,000 in this year’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser, which is $15,000 more than what they raised last year.

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Check out the latest edition of Politico’s City Pages listing.

Weird controversy at Queen’s Park as a government move to have a monthly singing of “God Save the Queen” has been slapped as celebrating “violence, oppression and discrimination by the British Empire” by Indigenous MPP Sol Mamakwa.

The Grand River Conservation Authority says that the watershed is at a moderate to high risk of spring flooding with the highest potential for flooding being closest to the Lake Erie shoreline due to the higher than normal water levels in the Great Lakes. The fact that the area had about 200 per cent the normal amount of precipitation in January certainly didn’t help.

The Alberta Court of Appeal became the first court in the country to say that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (AKA: the carbon tax) is unconstitutional. The 4-1 decision called the GGPPA “a constitutional Trojan horse,” and that it opens up a world where “Parliament could pass a law prohibiting Albertans from heating their homes above 16C.” Saskatchewan and Ontario courts both found the law constitutional, but the final decision will be made by the Supreme Court of Canada later this year.

Samantha Beattie shared her experiences being a track athlete at the University of Guelph under disgraced coach Dave Scott-Thomas, to whom she was so devoted that she ran herself into a serious injury in her third year.

Kudos to Nathan Skoufis who is Naska World Champion for the fifth year in a row, which, I gather, is a pretty big deal in the martial arts scene!

Regular Council Meeting – February 24, 6:30 pm.

After passing the majority of the consent agenda, Ward 6 Councillor Dominique O’Rourke asked to pull the report on Development Fee Exemptions or Waivers saying that she reconsidered her support for the motion because it could open the floodgates to all kinds of non-profits looking for exemptions to paying DCs while the City deals with a very uncertain fiscal picture thanks to Bill 108. Despite winning over a few of her fellow councillors, O’Rourke still lost the motion 8 to 5.

Next, it was all about the dog park situation. There were 27 delegates on the speakers list, 257 correspondences included in the package, and a petition that was due to be presented with nearly 5,000 signatures. Mayor Cam Guthrie aimed to get a head of all that though with a ruling from the chair that the motion passed at the February 3 Committee of the Whole meeting was out of order. The reason? Because voting to cancel further construction on the Bristol Street fenced in dog park and tearing down the Peter Misersky dog park would require a motion to reconsider on the original June 2019 motion to approve the parks.

Councillor Bob Bell challenged the mayor’s ruling because committee had that discussion at the time, but it was decided that there didn’t need to be a motion. So why did council need to have a motion to reconsider? City Clerk Stephen O’Brien explained that it was “a continuum of decisions,” cancelling the Lee Street Park project, for which no construction has been done yet, has a negligible effect on the intent of the original motion, but tearing up all three of the approved projects is something else entirely.

Councillor Mark MacKinnon asked about his interpretation of section 5.8 (b) of the Procedural Bylaw that says, “A resolution that was decided by Council cannot be reconsidered if action has been taken in implementing the resolution resulting in legally binding commitments that are in place on the date the motion to reconsider is considered by Council.” MacKinnon said that it was his belief that council couldn’t have a vote to reconsider on this matter since there was a contractor in place to finish construction on the Bristol Street Park. DCAO Colleen Clack confirmed that there was a tender awarded for that project, but because of winter the construction work had been paused.

Council voted 9-4 to uphold Guthrie’s ruling that the Committee motion was out of order.

Councillor Leanne Piper then made a motion to suspend the Procedural Bylaw saying that council could skip over the usual Notice of a Motion to Reconsider since people were already in the gallery and ready to delegate on the cancelation of the projects. She also said that it was well within council’s power to cancel contracts, and that they did it before in the case of the construction of the new city hall. Guthrie argued that suspending the bylaw should be a rare thing, even though it has been used often in council to continue meetings past 11 pm and midnight. Councillor Mike Salisbury noted that this debate was the end result of a rash decision at the committee meeting, while Councillor Cathy Downer said that council was going from knee-jerk reaction to knee-jerk reaction. The motion to suspend the bylaw failed 2-11.

When the original recommendation to stop the construction of the Lee Street Park was put on the floor, Piper made an amendment to pause construction of the Bristol Street Park for 60 days. Guthrie found that motion out of order. Piper then said that she intends to bring forward a Notice of Motion to Reconsider at either the March 9 or March 23 council meeting, but the vote would still need a super-majority of nine votes to be overturned. Clack clarified that the pause taken on construction at the Bristol Street Park was due to winter’s arrival, and staff decided to use the occasion to get more public input. Nothing at Bristol Street’s been stopped because of the committee vote.

After the original staff recommendation was passed 10-3, Councillor Dan Gibson forwarded an additional motion to have staff proceed with looking at the feasibility of building dog parks in non-residential areas as part of the 2021 budget. Gibson’s ward-mate Councillor Bob Bell added that part of those deliberations include looking at whether there should be a minimum distance set between dog parks and residential areas. Downer noted that the original intent with establishing dog parks in residential areas was to make them walkable, and that it seemed like council was now thinking about a “big box model” by building them on the outskirts of town. The motion passed 12-1.

In one last motion, MacKinnon asked staff to prepare a report by the end of Q2 to look at options for locking fences at Peter Misersky Park from dusk to dawn. That motion passed unanimously.

Long story short: The Peter Misersky dog park will remain open, construction will continue on the Bristol Street dog park come spring, and staff will continue with its mitigation efforts in the hopes of achieving peace in our time. To be continued…

Committee of the Whole – March 2, 2 pm. 

This meeting will feature an update on how the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington are spending the $10 million it won from the Smart Cities Challenge, and how the World Council on City Data will be able to help City Hall in achieving its Strategic and Community Plans. In Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise matters, Committee will hear about the results of the community engagement on the Dolime Solution, and the annual report on Water Services. In terms of potential controversy, City staff is recommending one 10-hectare community park, eight one-hectare neighbourhood parks, and a 20-hectare linear greenspace with trails (AKA: the Moraine Ribbon) for the open space requirements of the Clair-Maltby area. You can access the full agenda here

If you want to delegate on any of the items being discussed at this meeting, you can get in touch with the Clerks office by 10 am on Friday February 28!!!  

Planning Meeting of Council – March 9, 6:30 pm. 

***The agenda for this meeting will be posted on the City’s website on February 27.

Special Meeting of Council – March 23, 6 pm. 

This is going to be a workshop on the City’s multi-year budget process.

Regular Council Meeting – March 30, 5:30 pm

For more information on Guelph City Council meetings, from agendas to live-tweets to recaps, you can visit that page on Guelph Politico here.

Former City of Toronto planner Jennifer Keesmaat and current City of Guelph planner Todd Salter will be taking part in “Guelph 2041: A conversation about a growing city” at the Delta Conference Centre tonight at 7 pm.

There will be two open houses to discuss the City’s new community road safety strategy, and you can offer your input on Tuesday February 25 from 5:30 to 8 pm, or on Wednesday February 26 from 2 to 4:30 pm at the Marg Mackinnon Community Room at City Hall.

Green Party of Canada leadership candidate Alex Tyrrell will be in Guelph on Thursday evening to talk about the Green New Deal. The event begins at 6 pm at Symposium.

OPIRG’s annual Rebel Knowledge Symposium will take place next weekend at the University of Guelph. The subject this year is “The Earth is on Fire! Moving from Climate Crisis to Climate Justice.”

Kitchener Comic Con is this Saturday at Kitchener City Hall at 11 am if you’re into that.

Coming up this week on the GuelphPoliticast, we revisit a Politicast from the past. In honour of Freedom to Read Week, we’ll replay an interview done with Ward 2 Councillor and Guelph Public Library board member James Gordon from 2016 about the power of books, fighting censorship, and why it’s important to be able to read what you want. 

Get the latest edition of the GuelphPoliticast on Wednesday. 

Also on Wednesday, tune in to CFRU at 2 pm for another episode of End Credits. This week, Peter Salmon will co-host as we catch up with the Oscar-winning war satire Jojo Rabbit, which is now available on home video. We’ll also discuss new trailers, the return of The Hunt, putting filmmakers first, and whether Sonic’s digital facelift worked. 

Then, Thursday at 5 pm on CFRU, it will be a new episode of Open Sources Guelph. Scotty Hertz and I will be talking about the latest concerning Indigenous affairs and pipeline construction, the latest from the Democratic primary, the unconstitutionality of Canada’s prostitution laws, and an interview with Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development Maryam Monsef (see above).

Listen to all these shows any time by subscribing to the Guelph Politicast channel on your favourite podcast app at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, and Spotify.

It’s the end of the month later this week, so that means the second edition of Mangez!, the monthly recap of council, and the Politico Calendar for March will be coming up later this week.

I will definitely be trying to hit a couple of those events under “Save the Date” this week.

Good luck to Guelph Mercury Tribune reporter Chris Seto who’s heading to a big city paper: The Waterloo Region Record!

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And finally, feel free to reach out to be by email at adamadonaldson [at] gmail [dot] com, or find me on Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, GuelphPolitico.ca!

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