How the Farbridge administration is destroying the way we want to live

Posted September 15, 2014

In a full-page ad in the Trubune, the Guelph Wellington Development Association (GWDA) disclaims the City of Guelph’s development strategy to intensify new development is at the expense of single-family homes.

In 2013, the city issued just 149 single-family detached building permits, a 33 year low. Yet most residential development approved in recent years has been approving high and low rise multiple-family units including row housing. The administration has encouraged this by offering grants and development charges holidays for up to ten years.

More interesting is the ten-year increase in average home prices from $207,000 to $391,000 or 88 per cent. During the same period, inflation rose by only 17 per cent. The question is, did your salary or wages increase by 17 per cent?

But another factor comes into play. The increase in property taxes has been 38 per cent in the eight years of the Farbridge regime’s management. The conclusion is that while income levels in Guelph have increased less than the 17 per cent inflation, the cost of owning property has more than doubled in the same period. This does not include the exploding cost of water and sewer costs, but also hydro supplied electricity.

Why are single-family detached homes so important to the Guelph economy?

The answer is the 3,200 jobs in the Guelph housing sector that makes it one of the largest collective employers in the city. Despite the eight-year lackluster development actions of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, it now states it is working with the city to soup up the economy to create more good jobs. But where has the chamber been for the past eight years?

That chamber line has the sycophantic echo of a re-election promise to bring good jobs to Guelph currently being made by Mayor Karen Farbridge.

If the economic policies of the Farbridge administration have been so successful, why hasn’t the ratio of industrial commercial assessment in the city still stuck eight years later at 16 per cent as compared with 84 per cent residential assessment?

It has become alarming that the Farbridge administration is concentrating on eliminating so-called urban sprawl by building multiple family housing in a city that has more greenfield areas available for development than most in Ontario. The administration is doing this despite the basic wish of most Canadians, young and old, to own their own detached home.

A single family home represents the greatest single portion of wealth for its owners. It is the type of housing desired by most Canadians.

This administration doesn’t care as it follows the environmental line to pack people into one-stop enclaves where cars are no longer necessary. The line spoken by Coun. Maggie Laidlaw that in 20 years, there will be no cars or trucks on the streets on Guelph sums up the Farbridge policies. It’s part of the admimistration’s record that has become the “war on cars”.

Perhaps that’s why they built an underpass on Wyndham Street that fails to meet minimum height standards for commercial velicles. It is the only underpass in the city that fails to meet the minimum standard.

The war on cars includes the growing strangulation of vehicular traffic throughout the city. The driven desire to create special lanes for bicycles on major arterial roads has caused many major routes in the city to be squeezed from four lanes to two.

Here’s how it works. In the past few years any major thoroughfare that is repaved suddenly is remarked to allow wider bicycle lanes, a continuous left hand turn lane and a single lane going each way. Recent examples are Downey Road, SilverCreek, and Stevenson. Now the administration is proposing doing the same thing on Wyndham Street to cost $18 million including infrastructure renovation.

The proposal sitting in the weeds is to expropriate land along Speedvale and Woodlawn to incorporate bicycle lanes. These are two of the most travelled east/west routes in the city.

Yet this administration has approved spending $13 million over the next ten years on bicycle lanes.

The economy of the City of Guelph is reliant on growing a diversified housing mix and the movement of commerce by cars and trucks. By shutting down the growth of single family detached homes and spending millions to allow a minority of citizens to use unlicensed vehicles on public roads, borders on irresponsibility by city council.

The vocal bike minority contributes practically nothing to the city economy.

The Farbridge obsession with the prattling of David Suzuki and his doomsday environmental message is not only self-serving but also dangerous to our city.

These are two vital issues that voters in the October 27 civic election should consider. In order to retain power, the Farbridge forces have a total of 19 supportive candidates running for 12 council seats. That’s more than 50 per cent of all council candidates, excluding those running for mayor.

If anyone says that voting in a municipal election is a waste of time had better think twice this time. This opportunity to change comes only every four years.

If you don’t vote, you don’t count.

Special notice: GrassRoots Guelph is hosting a meet the Candidates Barbeque, Thursday, September 18 at the Guelph Golf and Curling club between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. All proceeds go toward the six all-candidate debates being held in each ward sponsored by GRG. Call Rena at 519 837 4010 for tickets.

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3 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

3 responses to “How the Farbridge administration is destroying the way we want to live

  1. Keith McEwen

    I find it interesting that along Woodlawn Rd the City installs pedestrian crosswalk signals at every intersection but not sidewalks. Especially tough for pedestrians in the winter.

    Maybe we can buy them all bikes.

  2. Laura

    One of the “goals” of removing parking on Downey was so it would be safer for employees to bike to the new Hanlon Creek Business Park. Contrast this with the older Hanlon Business Park across the Hanlon where there are no bikes lanes. The roads are crumbling along the edge and there are. potholes everywhere. Does the city really believe that is safe for bikers to use Laird Rd. to get to work when they have to bike beside large transport trucks while avoiding potholes and road shoulders that are collapsing??? Also remember how long it took the city to bring transit to this area of Guelph? Yet they are trying to attract new business. Would you locate to Guelph if you toured this business park?
    Downey Road was completely dug up and newly paved this summer yet it was one of the better roads in the city of Guelph. There are many other roads that needed urgent repaving yet they repaved Downey. Why? Ask Councillor Todd Dennis he said it was because it was on the list?? What list? isn’t there a priority based on the condition of the road? Obviously not given the condition of other roads in the city compared to Downey.
    I have no problems with bike lanes but I feel it is important that the safety of all users be considered before they are located. Parking and bike lanes can co-exist on roads. Both are necessary in a city that has altered its bus routes in a way that makes it difficult to get to some areas of the city. Not to mention how long it takes to get there. As for the sidewalks. They are just another example of what is all too often happening in this city, don’t fix it until it becomes an insurance liability. I wonder how many lawsuits and insurance settlements that city has had to pay because people have fallen on sidewalks that need repair? The city population is aging and now the “Wellbeing Initiative” wants us to get out and be active. Go out and walk. Just don’t trip on the sidewalk because you didn’t notice the bright orange paint on the uneven surface!

    • Laura: Thank you for that comment. It summarizes, in common sense terms, what this administration has done to our city by ignoring the routine care and comfort of our streets and sidewalks. Yet, they are trying to maintain the same level of inaction for another four years.

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