Monthly Archives: July 2011

Shoveling more money toward the Guelph Civic Museum

For casual passersby on Norfolk Street, the Guelph civic museum, formerly known as the Loretto Convent, rises like the fortress on the hill.

Four years ago, city staff told council the conversion of the pre-Confederation convent, empty for more than ten years, would cost $12,700,000. Even with senior government grants, the cost to taxpayers would be $6,700,000.

It was the brainchild of Coun. Leanne Piper, former chair of the Guelph Heritage group, to move the civic museum to the convent serving two purposes: Restoring a heritage icon and creating a new home for the overcrowded museum on Dublin Street.

That was then and this is now. The cost has escalated to more than $16 million with the announcement that an additional $1 million was needed to landscape the project. Those are the admitted estimates. Funds spent in the past four years to meet contract changes and more importantly, to rebuild the foundation of the aged structure, have not been revealed.

The resulting heritage thrill on the hill has a multistory glass fascia making the building about as authentic as the Magic Kingdom Castle at Disney World.

The raison d’etre for this multi-million dollar enterprise was to save and preserve a pre-Confederation building.

On top of that, displays cannot be put on the second floor because of structural deterioration.

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Like many city projects, bad planning, cost overruns and disregard for the unintended circumstances, projects are delayed interminably. There are examples of this all over the city as stimulus sponsored projects remain incomplete and unfinished.

Having said that, why hasn’t the city announced an opening date for the new museum? Because they can’t?

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Salamanders 1 – Guelph 0

Two summers ago, the Hanlon Business Park was occupied by a group of anarchists determined to stop development of the city-owned property.

The result was to delay completion of the park infrastructure for another year. The focus was on preserving the Jefferson Salamander, a rare and protected reptile. Subsequent investigation by the provincial natural resources people turned up no evidence to support that claim.

As part of its efforts to increase its industrial/commercial assessment, the city commissioned a task force “Prosperity 2020”, to redevelop strategies over the long term to attract business and industrial companies to Guelph.

An independent study by a Markham-based consulting firm revealed that potential growth candidates viewed the municipality as being not friendly toward business. It described the city has being “highly fractious with a number of narrow interests competing for attention.”

With some 43 per cent of jobs employed by the manufacturing base and the university, the consultant stated the ratio was twice the job reliance experienced by the average Ontario community.

The report also reaffirmed the experience of the past 42 months that the property owner segment is unfairly responsible for 84 per cent of Guelph’s property tax revenues.

It remains an unsustainable position for taxpayers. The consultant said the city must reposition itself as a premiere business location for business investment by diversifying its employment base.

Until elected representatives eschew their personal issues and serve all the people of Guelph, nothing will change. It takes political will to attract those high quality businesses engaged in information technology, advanced manufacturing systems and biotechnology. It will require knowledge and courage to rebuild the city’s hobbled economic development reputation and its disproportionate property tax allocation.

Today, the Hanlon Park sits empty of business development, a year after the site was ready.

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Will and Kate: An anachronism of faded power

What a nice couple, charming, friendly and the best public relations tool the House of Windsor can produce. They remain a reminder of a tattered, dysfunctional family that is only there by birthright. Also with tons of money that perpetuates the myth that kings and queens are supreme.

What is the benefit to Canadians? Bragging rights to Americans? Yay, Ya we have a monarch, you don’t.

No offense Will and Kate, you are the new royal superstars. You alone will bring the common touch to the job with your open and friendly style. But is it too late for Canadians to accept the British royal family?

What makes one gag is the homage the Royal Tour media dispels with sappy coverage and superficial commentary including the constant and monotonous fashion reference to what Kate is wearing. A stunning young woman, Kate will eclipse her deceased mother-in-law as the people’s princess.

Canadians wish the couple well, including the majority of Quebecers.

But when you look back on the previous generation of Windsors you can only sigh and wish they would go away. Take Will’s father, the incoming King and philanderer, plus his brother and sister both divorced and arrogant in the process.

A trail of sibling sexcapades over which the Queen has had to deal with along with the glowering Duke of Edinborough, has made the House of Windsor a long running Brit soap opera.

Here’s a suggestion: Appoint William Governor General of Canada when David Johnson’s term expires. Will and Kate would fit right in with us. They are young and vibrant and would bring an excitement to our country further uniting our multicultural mosaic.

Will has lots of time. His route to becoming king is well down the road … he has two ahead of him.

If we have to have a monarchy, better to have it with Will and Kate. At least for a while.

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