By Randy Norris
Posted September 8, 2015
A few months after I moved to Guelph, 32 years ago, a long-time real estate agent told me that Guelph was divided into two cities.
He described it loosely as the area north of College and south of Speedvale which he called the “Real Guelph”. The other area that was south of College, he simply called a ghetto and named it “Mississauga”.
He was referring to that place down the 401 that’s dominated by big houses and even bigger four lane roads. It has a heavy sprinkling of shopping malls, fast food joints and gas stations which interrupt the kilometres of asphalt that allow the herds of stampeding SUV’s a way to get somewhere.
At the time, I naively thought that his comment was an over exaggeration. Little did I know that even today this Tale of Two Cities continues to dominate our politics.
At the centre of this obsession with the “Real Guelph” is the downtown and its surrounding residential areas. Far too often, some of the more “important” residents of this area feel superior to every other part of Guelph, particularly the south end.
A lingering attitude can be annoying
Its not that I don’t like our downtown; it’s the attitude I don’t like.
I live in the south end and sometimes, when I go downtown, I feel like a mutt at a purebred dog show. I’m scraggly and a little too casual, or so my wife informs me. I feel out of place.
One of the main proponents of our divided City is the current ward two Coun. James Gordon. He of guitar and politics, continues to sing his sad songs of urban sprawl and Stephen Harper.
Recently, our local newspaper reported his comments on the new Walmart that’s coming to the south end taking over from the former Target store on Stone road.
Mr. Gordon doubts that a second Walmart will cause the same controversy that surrounded the arrival of the retail Godzilla in the north end.
The second store, he says, will be “right in the middle of sprawl”.
So who cares anyway, right James? In his mind, the south end is forever condemned.
Have I missed something? Isn’t Guelph composed of all its neighbourhoods, the worst and the best? Every part of us contributes to what is Guelph.
But that’s not what our rookie city counsellor seems to think nor does his offspring, members of the Guelph Civic League.
The Guelph Civic League told us for years that it had the vision for Guelph and the leader who could take us to the promised land.
In the end, it was remarkable how wrong they got it.
Their vision for Guelph would have no diversity, no difference between its neighbourhoods.If they had an immigration policy, it would probably involve the use of a wall to keep out the hoards of south end troglodytes from taking over.
They did, however, try to build a wall around City Hall.
At one point, I had requested a meeting with Mayor Farbridge to discuss a local recreational project, a request which she granted. Imagine my surprise when ex-counsellor and shadow Mayor, Ken Hamill, showed up.
Hiding behind the coat tails of our recently defeated mayor. She needed the wall because Guelph had become a scary, insular place.
Her surrogates in the Guelph Civic League snuck into City Hall through the ballot box and thankfully left through the ballot box. Unfortunately, they left the place dirty and contributed to wasting a lot of money.
It’s like a nightmare that just keeps on giving. Even after losing last year’s election, they couldn’t let it go.
A condemnation that back-fired
Susan Watson, a rabid Farbridge supporter who doesn’t know when to quit, continues to tell the voters of Guelph that they got it wrong.
She tried to beat us over the head with a $400 donation to a Farbridge opponent that she contended was illegal but after investigation, her claim was denied.
Unfortunately, she learned under the Farbridge administration that it’s ok to waste taxpayer’s money, an estimated $10,000 so far.
She showed us, didn’t she?
The only thing I see is a group of sore losers who aren’t doing what’s good for Guelph. Either grow up or take your ball and bat and go home. You’re not welcome here anymore.
Plan to attend the Compliance Audit Committee meeting Thursday in the council chambers starting at 5:30 p.m.
It will receive the auditor’s report on the Watson complaint and recommend their decision to city council.