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February 08, 2012

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I think the downside is that it is low-employment warehousing. According to City documents, the target job density for the Hanlon Creek Business Park is 250 jobs per hectare (see http://guelph.ca/uploads/PBS_Dept/planning/PDF/Implications%20Summary.pdf).

If this development creates 90 jobs on 8.4 hectares of land, that's a job density of only around 11 jobs per hectare - only 4% of the target!

As much as we need new employment in Guelph, I can't see how warehousing is a good fit for the business park when much better employment opportunities were anticipated.

Thank you very much for posting and sharing this great article. This is an excellent article . I enjoyed reading it and am likely to reread it again soon so I can revisit some of the points that I want to consider.

Admittedly Dave, Im not following the HCBP in much detail now, but are we anywhere near the "beggars can't be choosers" stage?

Might there be some advantage to having this one company set up shop to entice others to follow, even though this one might not satisfy all of the original stated goals?

Would the City's tax revenues be different with less or more employees, regardless of size? Besides, is/was that 250 jobs/hectare a realistic goal?

Sobey's?

Unfortunately the prospects for the HCBP have been downgraded significantly.

So much for the lofty goals when the park was first mooted... which, actually, were the same lofty dreams made for the business park on the east side of the Hanlon too...

A green corporate head office and research park... yeah, right.

Instead we get a moonscape on both sides of the Hanlon for warehousing type business.

It's all part of getting people to buy into the idea, I suppose.

Interestingly those lofty dreams have been transferred to the Guelph Innovation District for the York Lands. How long before they get downgraded too?

So yes, in answer to your question D.C. , we are at the "beggars can't be choosers' stage.

Which is why we need to pay attention to what they give up (tax breaks, environmental risk) to get these jobs.

Unfortunately though, the successes get overplayed as Dave has pointed out above.

It's also worth looking to see who the winners in all this are.

Sad times... short term thinking, all in the pursuit of perpetual 'growth'.

Hmmm, so Julian Ichim and his Merry Band of Protesters may have had a point afterall?

Low paying high turnover jobs... and they talk stability and Guelph in the same sentence. Sounds like the pie in the sky visions they had for the Hanlon are now pie in the eye.

Whatever Jan, The HCBP is vital to Guelph's long term success. Even the former OPIRG activist Mayor Farbridge recognizes that. We need to have the roads and services in now to demonstrate to industry that we're serious. The companies will come, jobs will be created. The HCBP will serve it's purpose....build it and they will come, and they are coming.

Sheesh, they haven't even finished with the road work and what not. What did you expect? The thing to just fill up overnight? And besides we're in a recession, but things will pick up soon, they always do, despite what the naysayers say.

It's obvious that the real goal of yourself and Mr. Sills is to perpetuate the Xenophobic Guelph factor that is hurting this city.

No mam, I don't like it - neither does the vast majority of Guelphers who just want jobs, to raise a family and to have homes available in Guelph for when their children grow up.

Hey Karl,

You may want to read the previous posts in this thread a little more closely. The issue is what was previously promised and what is now being delivered.

Way to go, using the word xenophobia word too.

I could point out that xenophobia is far more associated with those on the far Right of the political spectrum but I won't bother (oops, just did!)

Sheesh!


Hold on a second here, now the suggestion is the City should be selecting who occupies the industrial land based on the type of business, or density of employees per square foot? Where did you guys learn business?

Warehousing IS big business. in case you're not familair with the current economics of the world, North America doesn't make stuff anymore. We import it, store it, ship it, sell it. Warehousing and logistics is one of the hottest employment sectors in North America.

Some days I can't believe what I read here!

Hey T.M.,

Thanks for identifying why a full HCBP won't amount to much in the way of job numbers.

I don't think I could have said it better. :)

Over the coming years we're all going to become far too familiar with the realities of the "current economics of the world".

Jan

Jan Hall, explain to us how that someone like K Morant who is arguing for jobs, industry, economic growth and lower taxes qualifies him as being "on the far Right of the political spectrum"?

If anything, you make his point about an aspect of xenophobia, typified by many in the ruling class of Guelph, who are themselves, largely elitist.

You people seem to have the patrician attitude that you know everything better than everyone else and that somehow, you are more fit to shape policy than the rest of us plebeians.

The call on this issue should be: any economic investment in our city that brings jobs and grows our local economy, however big or small, is a good thing for all of us.

TM, might I suggest you visit the link provided by Jan and have a look at p.3. the City's words, not Jan's:

"Density of Employment Activity

5c) The first phase of the City’s Employment Lands Strategy indicated that based on historical trends, an average employment density of 35 jobs per hectare could be provided in the City’s Future industrial/business park areas. This density throughout the designated employment WOULD NOT BE SUFFICIENT [emphasis added] to meet the Provincial Growth Plan’s target of 50 jobs and people per hectare for the overall ‘Greenfield’ area.

Planning for higher job densities have been identified for the City’s ‘corporate business park’ areas (72 jobs per hectare) and in proposed ‘major office complex’ areas (Guelph Innovation District – York Lands, Hanlon Creek Business Park (250 jobs per hectare).

Concerted efforts will be required to achieve higher densities in the employment areas similar to densification efforts within residential areas. Measures to secure higher densities will be examined further in the Phase II Employment Lands Strategy analysis which is underway, e.g., permit only high density employment land use types in certain areas, specify minimum lot coverage and multiple storey building requirements. "

Now, admittedly I didn't graduate from Ivey or Rotman, but isn't 11 less than 35? And if 35 is "not sufficient", then isn't 11 even more "not sufficient"?. I think that's Jan's point, believe it or not.

oops sorry, Dave Sills provided the link above. ( I hope that doesn't disqualify my post, TM. ;) )

No D C, Jan's point is nothing more than to Pooh Pooh, the HCBP, both sides, from any angle possible.

Somehow she is trying to take a good news story, i.e. private company spending their money here, in Guelph, to create jobs, for us, and make it into a bad thing.

It's obvious that she is trying to spin this through her own leftist, tree hugger, ideological goggles.

Here is more good news from October http://guelph.ca/newsroom_display.cfm?itemID=80300 And there is more good news, a friend of mine works for Wurth and he says they plan to also do some manufacturing in the future as well.

But I'm sure you Xenophobes will find a way a to spin this into more bad news.

The average Guelpher will delighted when these jobs come to town, not to mention the jobs in the service and construction industries created because of these companies. Good news for recession weary folks.

And the left should be happy too, it means more tax revenue to fund lefty things like museums, libraries, arts centers and screwy garbage sorting systems.

K, really, try to tone down the silly rhetoric ...

New jobs for Guelph are great. Nobody is arguing otherwise. Dave and Jan are simply pointing out that this particular proposal falls far short of the City's stated goals re: employment density.

Given that City document, if the entire HCBP fills up with similar low employment density facilities then even the City would likely classify the HCBP as a tremendous failure. How is it that you do not understand the rather simple concept of employment density, K?

No DC, still incorrect, Jan is all over the place with rhetoric about why both HCBPs are a failure, and she is using this one case to back up her claim.

Dave's point is moot considering this is just one proposal. He's just trying to turn gold into garbage.

DC How is that you cannot understand that the city cannot dictate, within reason, the employment density that a prospective employer may or may not provide.

As a city, as citizens we should be greatfull that these companies are locating here, investing their money, taking all the risks and so on.

And get this DC, there is no way the city would ever call a full HCBP a "tremendous failure" or even a "failure". A full business park of tax paying, job creating industries can be called nothing more than an unqualified success!


Jan & DC
are you fans of or haters of the Places to Grow initiative as it relates to living space density?

Wurth bought a 5.1 hectare site that will create 100 jobs. Job density = 19.6 jobs / hectare. Still well below the 250 target, and even well below the Places to Grow target of 50. Here's the thing - the City sacrificed a large piece of land - agricultural land, many trees, vernal wetlands - betting that 5-10 thousand high-quality jobs could be generated. I think most in Guelph were convinced it was a reasonable gamble. So now the land is being sold and the jobs densities are nowhere near what was projected. So is this a gamble that will pay off in the end for Guelph residents now and in the future? Only time will tell.

Hey, Jan, I'm glad you're talking about this. Perhaps in all of this I can win you over to my way of thinking. The bottom line is it's hard to dismiss what it will be for those who get the jobs, or don't get them, depending on how successful we are in attracting Co X, for the men and women and their families most immediately impacted by what happens next. I get that it may not be what was promised. I get that you don't like public money being spent with promises of X and then we get Y. It happens quite a bit. It's about being outcomes-based and not liking it when it seems like you were sold a bill of goods from the start. A song and dance just to get something approved. You mention something about our pursuit of perpetual growth. OK. But what about that. Does that include things like buying up and knocking down built real estate for new downtown libraries as well? Et cetera? Or is that still about attracting employers who will bring good-paying jobs? Are we only talking about private consumption, or are you thinking about public spending as well. How exactly do you support that public spending, anyhow? Private enterprise... perhaps? What about the carbon footprint of our public spending? What about the carbon that is attached to the economic activity that generated the taxes? And truly, what lower number of jobs/ha would not have raised your ire?

Anyways, I digress. Back to the whole, we were promised one thing and now we have another. Well, if we want to have the ability to chart our destiny in the way you are suggesting, in all frankness, we can't be up to our necks in debt. So, no, to put a slightly different spin on the phrase "beggers cannot be chosers", we are not exactly in a position financially where we can dogmatically say no to any development that doesn't meet some threshold that may never actually happen. When you're short on cash, it means to have to make compromises. If you don't like doing that, then get into a position where you have to do it less, or more positively, get into a position where those types of compromises don't undermine your basic authenticity. So, yes, we need the cash now, and sure, perhaps you don't like being in that place. That's good. But be honest with yourself about what it would be to get into a better one. When the finances are crappy, you have to compromise on the things that matter, and the worse they are, the more of yourself you lose. Crappy public finances hurt individuals. It hurts families. It undermines our ability to do the good we know we should do when it comes to development, society, the environment.

In short, it owns you.

So, it would seem we need the development. For good reasons. This developement. Maybe with the reorganization we can be more impactful, maybe that will help attract the jobs and the development you are looking for. But today, this is what we have a shot at getting. And real people and their families depend on it happening. And perhaps in your thinking about this, you may decide to redirect some of your energy to root of the issue. Our finances.

Craig - Well said, a bit long mind you. I think the crux of this is "credibility". As others have put it, any job creation is good. That should not be the argument. Even if it is one job per hectare it is one more person working. If it is low paying, as long as local people get the job then that is positive.
The problem comes in with this city hall and administration. They lack credibility with the general public. They, the general public of this city, have become disinterested and show so in the numbers at election time. They, city hall, make grand promises but never come through. Name a major project in Guelph in the last 20 years that hasn't ended up costing us more than projected. How many decades have we said the disproportionate tax base is residential and we must increase our commercial tax base. How many years have we been saying this yet we are still in the same situation. How many times do we forgive and forget what this city hall leads us through?
Change at city hall is definitely needed. Starting with the top dog right through those that have disdain for their constituents.

I disagree with 'jobs at any cost' thinking. This is what gets City Hall off the hook when they do land jobs that are less in number and quality than expected. We make sacrifices and investments to bring jobs here - land, trees, staff time, lawyers fees, tax breaks, etc. etc. Those sacrifices and investments have to pay off for the community. One job per hectare is complete failure. 11 jobs per hectare is not much better. We need to demand better.

As usual, Dave Sills puts it much better than I do and D C summarized well so I'll leave it there.

In other news, Mayor Farbridge joins us on CFRU 93.3fm Beyond the Ballot Box this coming Monday between 8-9 a.m.

Of course these 90 jobs are fantastic. They would help 90 working men and women feed their families, pay taxes, buy local groceries and contribute to our city. That's 90 more people earning a living and that's a great thing. But in the larger picture, Dave Sills is correct - a "jobs at any cost" is indeed a failed policy. Filling the park (approx 150 ha of usable space) at this same employment density ratio would result in a little more than 1600 jobs overall. And like these 90 jobs, 1600 jobs is also a great thing ... but ... the Hanlon Creek Business Park was not built for 1600 jobs. It was built with the expectation of more than 10,000 jobs. Or, as many as 35,000 jobs if we are to accept the lofty goal of 250 jobs/ha.

If this warehouse is the best we can expect job-wise, then we are in deep trouble. Guelph's economic development manager Peter Cartwright has to put on his happy face here, but surely he must be crapping bricks knowing this is the best out there right now. We simply cannot afford more development of this sort.

Yes, like most here I also hope that things improve, but I also hope the City doesn't give concessions to other developments like this that comparatively create very few jobs. The City took a huge risk by building this park, let's just pray they manage it responsibly.

D C and Jim; I think we can all agree that we will not move forward as a community unless and until we get on the same page.

And that to me will necessarily include, if we ever get there, some recognition from a constituency in Guelph that it's not good enough to sit back and demand, demand, demand -- we need to be more fiscally responsible. For lots of good reasons, including towards living our values as a community. Which begins with some sensitivity for what we can responsibly sustain financially, together. Some want it both ways -- we are supposed to keep up with the Jones' -- or some notion of the Jones' -- but at the same time we are to eschew all that goes with growth. We can do our best, but there will be compromises. As I said, we should all want to be in a better position to chose what those compromises are. I don't think we're really there right now, and that's what people need to own.

The bottom line is I'm seeing a constituency saying we need to make demands on where the market is right now (??) and at the same it seems to be unwilling to accept any kind of responsibility for the decisions that have been made, for or even by them, that may have in effect diminished our ability to negotiate in the marketplace. When all is said and done, with our best efforts to get the best deal we can, with all of the other factors hanging in the balance, we get the deal we deserve. Or we don't compete -- we say, no, not now, not this way, and we own the consequences of that -- but let's move on from the mindset that we can make choices without consequences!!

Can you translate that for me, Craig?

Ok! All in favour of telling this potential employer & municipal taxpayer to take his operation to another municipality, please stand up & advise us of your investment plans for the area.

The city made a huge investment in land and infrastructure for the HBP, with the understanding that it would pay off if we attract thousands of jobs to the park. If it only attracts hundreds of jobs it'll be a failure.
One hectare of HBP land is worth 250 jobs. That valuation has already been made. If we "sell" it for 11 jobs/hectare then we're taking a loss, plain and simple.
Maybe we're in a position where we just have to take what we can get, I don't know. But this announcement isn't cause for celebration.

Time to ruin everybody's day just a bit more but it is important to remind you that because the city was (and is) maxed out debt-wise, we had to take on an equity partner from Switzerland to purchase this land. So not only do we get screwed by land-sales that produce much less employment than hoped for, but 35% of the profit now goes overseas. The whole purpose of these lands was to provide both jobs and money, and it doesn't do either.Only in Guelph.

Distribution centers (warehouses) are the new manufacturing centers. Get used to it.

Once again, right on Jim.

The land was purchased in 2001 by the city. I can't find ANY evidence that the city needed an equity partner.

Evidence?

Anyone who believes job projections from politicians or bureaucrats should run right out and get fitted for a jacket with sleeves in the rear. When expending large sums of money for job creation programs, they will come up with any number that seems reasonable to support the expenditure and back it up with the appropriate fuzzy math and assumptions. The projections for HCBP are no different. The business park was created based on a wide array of assumptions, goals and just plain guesses. The reality is, any industrial development is fiercely competed for by municipalities across the Province. It's a buyers market and companies know that. They will seek out the best deal that they can possibly attain. Were the city to insist on certain levels of job density, they could be safe in the knowledge that they would always have plenty of land available if/when a company decided to locate in the business park.

P.L.- It took like 2 seconds of googling to come up with Belmont Equity. Why couldn't you have done the same? They're are also suing the kids, along with the City, for $5 million (or is it billion?) in damages. And all of the angst and fighting was predicated on three assumptions: We would make money; we would create jobs, (apparently 250/hector); and we would benefit from increased taxation. So far we are batting pretty crappy, especially if we reduce or defer certain fees. Not saying we shouldn't do it, just sayin', that's all.

Several things in this discussion jump out at me as general junk conversation.

1) projections for numbers of jobs based on land area is pure sillyness. The City does not get control over who and what goes on the land. if company X's operations meet a commercial industrial zoning standard, they have every right to operate there.

2) ONE company is what we're debating here. ONE, in the entire business park. So as usual 59ers have jumped the gun and trying to position this as an all in failure, based on one company that doesn't have a dense employee count.

3) two thumbs up for Old Fart. Take the development, the jobs, the transportation and construction jobs that go with massive warehousing, and go for it!! This isn't a bad thing at all.


To guess the company.... Sobey's. Having inked a deal to supply Target Canada with their food, this would seem to make sense.

Warehouse equals trucks. Trucks equal jobs. Not to mention all the building and vehicle maintenance.

Translation, D C? Ah, OK.

We didn't arrive where we are overnight.

I agree that we need the good things that go with this development and employer, and the profile that will come with it. Jobs, absolutely. But let's not kid ourselves, we need the caasssshhh. And we need it now. Those who have a problem with this, well, they need to take a long look in the mirror and frankly take some responsibility for why we do need the cash. They need to own how they were the tail wagging the dog on the capital projects that are proving to be vanity cash-burning machines. But that would involve adopting some sense of responsibility for the mess we're in. It seems taking responsibility isn't their thing. They do "demands" well enough, as for "outcomes" and "consequences", well if they've been spun to look like they worked out, sure, or more truthfully if the real costs are well unknown, sure they'll stand up for that.

We're all over the map. Recently, we saw a debate on idling times by the same city that's struggling to figure out its own transit system. It would not be hard to go on...

So, let's take stock:

- We are now debating whether or not to accept a new employer in land zoned for them -- who may very well end up going elsewhere anyway
- We have finally acknowledged with the re-organization at City Hall, despite what it may mean for the influence of certain special interest groups, that the "Guelph factor" is real and it is affecting our ability to move forward
- We are bleeding cash from our capital "projects"
- Anarchism seems to be a growing export market for Guelph
- We have an activism in Guelph that doesn't respect private property or market economics, and what all this actually means for families and the environment, but insists on more in the way of public spending on libraries and what-not

We will not move forward unless and until we get on the same page with this.

I think that it all comes down to trust. An entire municipal election was run bragging: "We brought 500 solar jobs to town." Then it was "hundreds", not 500, then it was layoffs after layoff. Does this company even have any employees? Has it ever produced even one solar panel? Massive infrastructure was demolished on North Wyndham because we were told that the profit from 300 condos would give us a free new library. How has that worked out? City Hall was 3 years late and 50% over budget. We don't have the lowest taxes, we have the highest. We don't have 40% tree canopy, it is only 20%. We won't produce 250 jobs/hectare, but more like 11. Lie after lie after lie, it kinda wears you down.

I know, lets create a new a new department and hire some more experts.

HCBP - just unicorns and rainbows? See http://guelphcivicleague.blogspot.com/

So, back on Thursday Morning I guessed 'Sobey's'; little did I know I'd get caught in the middle of a pi**ing contest!

Sobey's, Metro, or LCL would be a good call.

As far as I know, Tim Horton's has a warehouse in Cambridge

Craig, and in today's Mercury, those in the west end who are no longer able to afford social/rec activities for their families due to substantially raised rates. All directly the fault of our city's leadership who've bankrupted the coffers. Look at our recently gutted transit system for another example of residents getting the shaft.

These things will not get better if people can't keep the special interests crowd from getting their representatives elected.

Ernie - Tim Horton's has a distribution center in Guelph, and Loblaw's has one by Toyota in Cambridge, so it's most likely Sobey's as has been previously guessed.

(Yes, Ernie, there is a big difference between putting people first and living out platitudes with legacy-complex empire building... )

Ray: "We don't have the lowest taxes, we have the highest."

Where did you get your data for this? I'm genuinely curious, because I've heard both claims. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out the truth. When I last checked published mill rates we were lower than most similar cities. Are those numbers wrong?

As I read my weekly-newspaper-that-takes-a-month-to-read, I notice that Indiana has become the 23rd state to go "right to work."

What this means is that workers will be allowed to choose whether to financially support a union.

It seems the issue is being framed as making the state attractive to businesses looking to locate there.

As an involuntary contributor to a particularly ideologically-driven, authoritarian, and generally objectionable union myself, I would frame the issue as one of freedom of political choice.

Regardless, the fact remains that if we want the jobs, and as Craig so correctly points out, the cash from such business developments, we're going to have to compete for them.

There's something wonderful about the free market when governments are pressured by simple economics into loosening their hold on what ought to be a worker's own business.

Perhaps, to compete, the province should enact right to work legislation. I suspect Hanlon Creek Business Park would fill up quicker.

Dave, how many jobs/ha, if fewer than 250, would be acceptable to you? (Yes, this goes to the veracity of the standard we are measuring all of this by.)

And as you know, politics ultimately comes down to a yes or a no.

Yes, or no.

How would you vote regarding this development, as it is proposed. Yes. Or no.

I think it is reasonable that you explicitly state here, for the record, where you would in the end land on this issue given your statements about it.

Choices have consequences. And normally in politics, there is accountability attached them.

And as a follow-up question;

What mechanisms of accountability do you propose for Guelph taxpayers regarding the positions taken by the Guelph Civic League?

How would you answer your own questions, Craig?

Yes to the development.

As to how the GCL would propose to be accountable to the taxpayers of Guelph, that is for it to comment on.

Either it has been successful on balance in influencing decisions by Council, or it hasn't. Which way is it?

GoC, there is one big challenge that exists to getting you the right, as a worker, to say no to union fees being deducted from your pay - the "Rand Formula". A 1945 SCOC ruling by, Justice Ivan Rand that argued that since all workers benefit from things unions have traditionally fought for, it is (again according to him and not me) morally incumbent on all workers to pay dues.

This type of legal precedent doesn't exist in the US.

One could argue that his assertion might have been relevant back in a day when unions themselves where more relevant. (read about Henry Ford's goons in the "Dearborn riots"). But lots has changed since 1945.

Also, the "free market" you mention - I really doubt what we have is something we really can call a true free market system. Take a lot at the exorbitant prices Canadians pay for cheese, yogurt etc, thanks to dairy quotas. All in the name of "protecting the Canadian dairy industry". Which, of course is bollocks, because if you go into Kroger in the US, you'll find that same block of Quebec cheese for $4.79, that sells here in Loblaws for $8. So, right there that tells me that the product is good enough to the US consumer to go head-to-head with US cheeses, with zero "protection" from the gov.

The fact that industry teams up with government to insulate them against the natural market risks ("moral hazard") is exactly why the system we have is not true capitalism (they privatize the profits, and socialize the risks. Its a cowardly sort of capitalism, sort of like riding a Harley-Davidson with training wheels and calling oneself a "biker"). Its all a racket.

Craig, you also asked Dave what j/ha ratio was acceptable ...

Was there any research done that suggested there were thousands of high tech, green firms desperately searching for a business park to open up shop in, or did the city just cross their fingers and hope really hard?

D C, you allow staff to make the best play they can, under the circumstances. Then you celebrate!

Indeed, Ernie. I agree that our free market system is often distorted by subsidy, tariff, and protectionism.

Thankfully, it is very resilient and has a tendency to resist distortion, as we see here.

The smart government no longer pays long-term subsidies that work against competitiveness, but instead implements zero-cost measures to free up capital and attract business, often accompanied by short-term subsidies that are difficult to litigate, defray capital costs, and end quickly.

Reduced development charges being one particularly sneaky, underhanded, and brilliant example of such a subsidy. Nice job, Guelph.

(Although against all subsidies in principle, a targeted tax break I find inoffensive enough. You can be sure every other municipality is playing the game, too. Trade competition often comes down to 'prisoner's dilemma.')

Yet, as we subsidize, Indiana and 22 states make themselves more attractive for business. Eventually, economic pressure always wins. Guelph is in such a good situation that we can probably hold on to some of these competitive disadvantages and still thrive. But some are going to have to go. Which ones will they be? I look forward with great anticipation to finding out.

On Rand:

I can think of a few legal arguments in a hypothetical case. One, freedom of political choice outweighs moral benefit: unions are quite active, politically, and essentially force members to support a particular party. Two, non consent: if I cut your lawn without your consent, do you owe me when you get home? And three, no clear benefit: running the company into the ground until I don't have a job is hardly beneficial, long term.

Also, the decision would be moot without the inclusion of all workers, involuntarily, in the bargaining unit. I'm quite happy to accept my employer's non-union terms, for example.

Rand is simply the worst kind of socialism: I'm required to pay for something I don't want, didn't ask for, and that I find less than worthless. Why? Some helpless lazy slackass does benefit. Such silliness serves only to generate an entire sector of helpless lazy slackasses.

I don't favour the legal route, however. The proper route for this kind of change is legislation. Simply bypass Rand by asserting the worker's right to represent herself. In my opinion, such legislation would survive a legal challenge on charter protection priority.

(Incidentally, the Labour Relation Act does provide for members leaving a union--in a case of one union poaching another's members. It inexplicably provides no practical method for an employee to simply exit a union, however. To do that, you have to decertify, an intentionally difficult, uphill process designed to favour the union.)

I have no objection to anyone joining a union, and in fact support the right to organize. I merely would like the right not to organize.

Let's bring more jobs to Guelph. Let's elect a non-socialist, then tell them we want Right to Work in Ontario.

OK, so should we be celebrating now, Craig?

No, not yet.

Craig, speaking for myself, I was part of the vocal minority that opposed the park in the first place since I didn't buy the City's numbers and I thought there was too much being sacrificed. So, the time for yes/no on developments like this was really back then.

What will likely come to Council is whether to give this company a break on development charges in an effort to out-compete other municipalities in the running (good luck - the company says that other municipalities are prepared to defer development charges for up to five years!). On *that* decision, I would say no. Save the 'carrots' we have for developments that *at least* exceed the Places to Grow target job density of 50 jobs per hectare. Those are the kind of developments that are needed.

With respect to GCL and accountability, I'm not sure what you are getting at with this. We are accountable in the same way as other groups like the Chamber of Commerce - accountable to our members and supporters. I hope that we are influencing the decisions of Council, a goal that the Chamber of Commerce certainly shares. In fact, it would be interesting to hear what the Chamber of Commerce thinks about this issue. My guess is that they'd be in the 'jobs at any cost' camp.

Hi, Dave;

I think it's fair to talk about accountability to taxpayers and the Guelph Civic League. In fact, it's the white elephant in Council Chambers.

We're talking about it now because you seem to be against the at-issue development. You have also posted a link on this forum to the GCL blog, which also seems to be against it. So, you've entered the debate. And we are talking about it because it involves consideration of some cash for us right now, within the circumstances that we need it. Would you say the GCL has on balance been successful in influencing decisions at City Hall? How money has been spent? So, yes, it is valid to ask about your organization's accountability to the taxpayers of Guelph. You should want to talk about too.

As for the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, I am not a spokesperson for it so I won't be. I do suspect its membership are a far more diverse lot than what you have suggested, with a common thread being that the members no doubt are as concerned as anyone about the direction of this city, putting a lot on the line with their own money, and probably are the last ones to suggest, jobs at any cost are a good thing. The irony here is the GCC is probably doing the most in this city to drive the kind of innovation you are looking for.

White elephant, Dave.

Craig, with the GCL these days, it's not money spent (we have a shoestring budget) but many hours of volunteer work - researching issues, putting together community events (like the Civics 101 panel discussion), and trying to influence decisions with facts. You'd have to ask councillors if we've been successful. It's never easy to tell.

And there is a diversity of viewpoints among GCL members and supporters, just as there is at the Chamber of Commerce. But in the end, as you have said, it's a yes/no decision when taking a position.

I know Lloyd Longfield reads this blog...Lloyd, what's the Chamber's position on job density at the Hanlon Creek Business Park? Just to round out the debate...

Craig, can you explain what you mean by accountability to taxpayers and "white elephant"? I'll point out that I'm not affiliated with the GCL, I'm just curious about what you're getting at.

Yes, and if possible Craig, can you provide empirical evidence to support your "white elephant in Council Chambers" theory?

... methinks there might (intentionally?) be some mixed metaphors here ... an elephant in the room vs. a white elephant.

HI All]
It is great news about this company choosing
Guelph,if they do.
But look at the landscape.
What would be the ratio between full time
Part time-temp workers.
Many warehouses in Guelph go thru the same process-they have the office staff,the warehouse personnel(usually temp service or
part time)low paying.Or high rate of turn over of staff because they do not want to pay
benefits.
And the fact that there are lots of people out of work and the high turn over does not
hurt them.But it sure hurts the little guy trying to pay his rent/mortgage/bills.
One more comment
It is amazing to me the way the mercury
turns out these big headlines of these jobs
but when you read down the story it tells the
real story.How it is forecasts by 2018 to have added another 500 or so jobs in Guelph.
What about now or at least with in the short term.Are we to just hold our breath and hold on until then.
Then the mayor and her henchmen grab a hold of it and spin it in their favor.Makes me laugh.
I work in a office in Guelph here and we just went thru a hiring stage and for two job postings we got over a hundred responses.
But yet the party line is low unemployment in
Guelph.
The people at city hall.chamber of commerce should pull their heads out of the sand and
get some fresh air.
Have a great day everybody.

Not long ago, 59'ers were discussing the alleged "Guelph factor" that companies include when considering setting up shop in Guelph, most posters here expressing dismay that this was/is the reputation.

Now, here's a company considering setting up shop and these same folks here at 59 are saying not enough employees, too many temps, not dense enough per sq/foot, low pay, high turnover, no benefits etc....etc....
All of that even BEFORE the company has been announced or even a snippet of the job, payscale etc....

Perhaps the Guelph Factor is actually closer at hand that the accusations that it's council. Seems to me that the Guelph Factor rears its ugly head on here.... the accusers of it existing.

how odd

GoC, it seems as if it all comes down to "freedom" being provisional to either constraint or coercion. (Constraint = you want to do something but you're not permitted; coercion = you don't want to do something but you're forced. This characterizes our 'prisoner's dilemma')

It all comes down to what one believes, namely, should things be run by the pure and undiluted will and best interests of the majority, or by the elites? Should people, however capable or edified, be able to choose what's best for themselves, or do we believe in the "Noble Lie"?

I'm betting its gonna be a long, hard climb outta the status quo.

T.M Cochrane
As usual you are out to lunch and knowing you,you are probable getting it free some
how.

D C (and Steve); Yes, "white elephant in Council Chambers" was an unintentional mixed metaphor -- I was just starting into my second cup of coffee when I posted this morning. But it works.

If you don't understand what I mean by it... well, that's unfortunate.

Out to lunch ... as usual frosty a generalization with no actual information.
Explain in detail how my belief that 59'ers are playing both sides of the Guelph factor is out to lunch.

Not knowing me is correct. Nothing is free in this world. I'm a young man who's worked hard, worked smart, made good decisions and had great mentors in my 33 years, and it's landed me a tremendous level of business success that i'm proud of. No handouts here my friend. Took the risks, reaping the rewards. Thanks

T.M Cochrane
If you read the threads on this blog we are all
pretty much in agreement on getting jobs to Guelph.The problem is the quality of jobs that
come to Guelph....part time,temp jobs or full
time.
If you are really lucky you can find a full time job but with that full time job people have to either get a part time job or go to the food bank because you can only stretch the ol low paying pay check so far.
About the free lunch thing,so you saying with the "great mentors "in your life they never gave you a tip from a friend of theirs and you reacted on this tip and made money off of it.(smells like a free lunch to me).Free lunch can mean and come from anywhere or any one.
Yes you should be proud of working hard,investing smart and all that but everybody owes there success to somebody or
something.
Not everybody in Guelph was that lucky as you were in the down turn and we should all remember this.It takes only one little bump in the road to fall from the tall towers.

Ok Craig, I'll just take it that you're politically opposed to the GCL and are using this "accountability to taxpayers" nonsense as a way to express that.

Nonsense, Steve? Really?

I'm not sure Dave would say accountability is ever nonsense -- and I'm guessing a few councillors past and present choked on their coffee reading that we would have to ask them to know if the Guelph Civic League has been able to influence direction. I'm guessing even a few councillors past and present and even friendly to the Guelph Civic League were thinking, "Really, Dave, are you kidding me?!"

Steve, would you agree that the Guelph Civic League has been unique in its influence regarding decisions at City Hall over the past two terms?

Oh, brother!

Dave, on the matter of shoe-string budgets, I'm hoping you can clarify something for me. Has the Guelph Civic League ever received financial assistance from the City over the past two terms? Or other taxpayer sources?

Craig, it seems that when you are talking about the GCL, you're referring to a time coming up on 10 years ago, while I'm referring mainly to the last couple of years, when I've been involved. The GCL has changed somewhat in almost a decade, as you can imagine!

Re financial assistance, the GCL does not receive any financial assistance from the City. We're funded 100% by memberships and donations - you're of course welcome to join us!

Historically speaking, back in 2008, for the last GCL Amazing Possibilities conference ("Proven Strategies for Making City Visions Real"), the City apparently shared the cost of bringing Larry Beasley - the renowned Vancouver-based urban planning expert - to speak (see http://www.guelphcivicleague.ca/archive/2008conference.html ).

And the GCL also got some provincial funding to hire a couple of summer students in 2006 for the Pulse of Guelph survey.

Hope that clarifies things for you.

To be clear, it's not the concept of accountability that I think is nonsense.
But it seems to me you're trying to talk about something without actually talking about it

Craig,

I'm really surprised that you think that the GCL currently has a significant amount of influence at City Hall.

Frankly, I think that highly unlikely. In particular, because (as Dave points out) the group has undergone a lot of reorganization over the past 2-3 years.

Was the GCL ever a factor at City Hall?

There is no doubt that it helped bring significant change to council in 2006, but that was because there was already a populist feeling in the city that things needed to change after what was perceived to be a very dysfunctional council under Mayor Quarrie.

The GCL brought organization to that movement for change through the development of shared values (what some on here like to call the Guelph factor?) which you still should find online.

It would be interesting to know how many of the '59ers agree with these values. Personally, I have no problem with them - and as someone said to me recently, I have no problem being called granola, if it means that Guelph remains a liveable, community-conscious city, as it grows.

Its also important to note that Mayor Farbridge has put a great deal of distance between the GCL and herself since being re-elected.

Indeed, it is worth noting that the GCL was one of those groups that urged caution on the development of the HCBP when concerns about an approaching economic recession were noted.

Were the GCL and others right to urge caution? Time will tell.

In closing, as there is currently no lobby register at City Hall, it is very hard to tell who has the most influence at council.

However, having spent the last eight years following things at City Hall closely I'm pretty sure it is not citizens groups and the GCL, though I can see why others would like to give that impression.

Jan

frosty
the old adage beggars can't be choosers comes to mind. If jobs are potentially coming, lets encourage those jobs to come here!! No ifs, no ands no buts, no qualifying statements. 90 more people working, is just that, 90 more people working. Why analyze and in turn bash the jobs and the company further?

If you're waiting for or expecting the HCBP to fill up with Toyota type facilities and as such Toyota type wages, benefits etc.... don't hold your breath. Those are rare.
Quality of jobs aren't handed out.
If someone is struggling, they start with an entry level job and work their way into something stronger, better paying, more permanent etc... ie - no handouts.
You want MY free lunch theory. Take a free lunch when it's offered but don't expect it. work hard, make good decisions, and above all, acquire the skills required in TODAY's business world.

foodbanks, lowered standard of living, reduced luxuries, to me they all sound like excuses made by people who didn't make great career decisions or didn't prepare financially for a potential pitfall. If the jobs aren't in Guelph, find another place to live and work. If the pay sucks, make a lifestyle change. If you're working in a CAW plant, have the foresight to see you're likely in trouble, and act BEFORE you're on a picket line making no money.

I admit frosty i'm a bit surprised. The excuses and pity stories I hear sound like people in MY generation and younger, who want it all, want it all without effort or time and want it NOW!!! Not those of an older more seasoned group.

But I digress - bring any and all jobs to Guelph. For every low paying job or two, a higher paid Manager is employed as well.

Don't be part of the Guelph Factor yourself!

T.M Cochrane
If you have properly read my threads on here
you will have seen that i agree with you in the aspect of bring the jobs to Guelph.
Also agree that the really good paying jobs are gone or very rare to find.But in your ideas that people should just get over it and
it is there fault for not making the proper
job decisions is inaccurate.Many jobs now are
either temp jobs or part time(contract)so in
saying that how are you to advance your self.
The days of getting into a company (entry level)and working your way up the company is gone.The older more seasoned group are having a hard time because of the fact of their age.I lot of companies will not even look at a person,whether seasoned or not.
A lot of companies will not even look at the older seasoned generation because of the health risks where they will hire a younger person because they are more flexible.Don't forget a lot of the older
generation (like myself)busted a nut by digging the ditches and doing the grunt work
for the pay check but now that i am older i can still do it but it takes a lot out of me.
Where the workers in your generation and younger all want to be computer geeks and do not even know what a shovel is.
So there is no excuses or pity stories just
reality.I also agree that in this world we all have to change with the times but in this changed world the mind set of people like you have to change.
Your comment about having the foresight about seeing your self getting into trouble and changing your situation seems a little out of touch to me.
Their is no way you can tell me that the little guys could have seen this down turn
coming.The big managers yes but their theory was they were to big to fail and they could always turn to the government for a bail out were the little guy got screwed.
And talk about a generalization without any
merit.So my term to you about being out to
lunch stands.

frosty
I find that to be generally right on the money, and then contradicting yourself half way through.
Here's your statement "I agree that in this world we all have to change with the times"
- that's the nuts of what i'm talking about in one sentence.
The world changes at light speed now. my generation, your generation... we are all impacted by super fast advances in industry, technology, economy etc... so regardless of age, we all have to advance, or fall behind. If your expertise is typewriter repairs, you've got to see the writing on the wall eventually.
Agreed, not everyone saw a downturn coming, but after 3 years, if you (not you specifically) haven't reacted, the blame lies squarely with that person.
If it's "shovel" work... head West. If a persons way of "trying" is to send out a thousand resume's, follow up etc... and they aren't finding work, that person is responsible for a taking a new approach, a new region to live, an upgrade in skills, education... WHATEVER IT TAKES!! Take a lower job, earn your way up. Be the best, you get rewarded.

Changing a poor situation is NEVER out of touch, never out of fashion, but it won't change itself. It's up to you, me and the guy next door to do it for ourselves.

I know the economy sucks, I know there's lots of people competing for the same jobs... and if my mentors have taught me one thing it's not to hope the system changes or that you'll get lucky... regardless of who's at fault, it's 100% YOUR responsibility to look after yourself! To your shovel in the ground idea, that's how you make it better. Put the shovel in the ground and grind it out!

I've fired a lot of people in my career, and I tell them all the same thing, leave here, go right home, tidy up your resume and start hunting within the next 2 hours!
I stand by my claim... if things suck for anyone they should get over it and get going to whatever is next...and they should do it NOW!

Jan, thanks for your comment in response to me. I admit it's curious to me that you've jumped into my exchange with Dave, though.

At any rate, surely you'd agree that there were polarizing personalities on both sides of the divide that characterised that duly-elected council chaired by Mayor Quarrie. Interestingly enough, the candidate names on the "postcards" that the Guelph Civic League sent out ward by ward to voters on the heels of the 2006 election didn't reflect this reality, notwithstanding the Guelph Civic League's "polling results", in my opinion. Which is to say, the populist drive you are suggesting is somewhat circumspect.

As I hope you will have noticed, I am if anything fair, Jan. The bottom line is, we cannot move forward as a community unless and until we are on the same page, something I campaigned on way back in 2006 with the Common Ground Campaign, which I guess I can mention since you've brought up that election. Unfortunately, while certain people were talking about the dysfunction of that council -- and rooted as it was in the polarized nature of that council, and an apparent intention by some to make it unworkable, and let's at least agree it does take two to tango -- they were not actually interested in finding any common ground. And as far as I'm concerned, that has really hurt us.

Again, we cannot move forward unless and until get on the same page as a community. That begins with us acknowledging that "the Guelph factor" is part of how we are viewed -- and it also involves us coming to understand the ways it is hurting us. Right now, it seems that we are proud of the Guelph factor. Civic pride for what distinguishes us is of course essential to us being ready to fight for the future of this city, but it can be isolating and a trap. Our relations with each other are polarized, and there needs to a broader sense of ownership for this state of affairs than what you seem to be suggesting. And the polarization isn't just with ourselves. As a city, we're at odds with our neighbours. We have to face it.

Otherwise, we will not succeed. Period.

Certain voices have to give over already and acknowledge some responsibility for how we've got to where we are. During the previous term, we saw a lot of finger-pointing to the council previous to it. Well, the dysfunction is here and now and there needs to be some movement on it. The recent recession was a game-changer in terms of what disunity and debt can and will mean for a community.

I'm enjoying a book that ties into what we have been discussing, The Coming Jobs War, by Jim Clifton. It's a fun and fast read. It's got a great chapter on cities and leadership (Chapter 6) in which some here would find their sweet vindication.

Craig, it's charming that you think everyone has to be on the same page. However, people disagree quite legitimately on all sorts of issues. Colour me cynical if you must, but I think you will be waiting a very long time for a 120,000 person chorus of Kumbaya here in Guelph.

Craig,

The reason why I jumped into your discussion with Dave was because you seem to have this notion that citizens and citizen groups are the major influences at City Hall.

It would be a fantastic world if that was the case.

I find it disappointing that so many of the smart folk on this blog seem to buying into the myth of the "Guelph Factor" yet completely ignore how it benefits a powerful sector of the community, big business and developers, over average citizens.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I've not noticed any signs that the development industry is hurting here or anywhere else.

When you talk about being at odds with our neighbours are you talking about Kitchener and Waterloo or are you really wishing we were more like Brampton and Mississauga?

This is probably important information for us to know if you are going to run for council again in 2014.

And are you suggesting that Guelph should rubber-stamp every development application that comes through. Would that help eradicate the Guelph Factor?

From where I sit, this current council functions quite well, certainly compared to the recent past. And, I'm talking about the 2006 version as well as the 2003 version here.

Having had the chance to interview quite a few of the current council recently I would say that they work together well especially when you consider some of the difficult issues that have been dealing with.

A point that, by the way, has been made multiple times by councillors you would believe have widely different political perspectives. I have no reason to think they are feeding me a line.

Whatever else you think about Guelph City Hall this is not Rob Ford's Toronto!

Are things perfect in Guelph? Far from it.

Do process and communication need to be improved? Absolutely.

Should we continue to monitor everything that is going on at City Hall? Definitely!

Let's just avoid buying into things like the "Guelph Factor" that are so clearly self-serving for a very powerful industry that would like nothing better than to have the freedom to do as it likes here.

We really have a choice to decide who we want to be. And that sounds like it could be the theme for the election in 2014.

T.M Cochrane
Well i like how you take part of sentence,take it out of context and twist it around.
If you are going to quote something i say
please use the whole sentence.
Have a nice day.

Jan Hall, if you look at the way that this administration is gutting services (like the recent changes to public transit, rec fees, etc), none of those things have anything to do with any "self-serving" "powerful industry that would like nothing better than to have the freedom to do as it likes here".

More like a self-serving mayor and bloated city management who, unfortunately, have the freedom to do as they like.

Jan
My understanding that the term "the guelph
factor"came from a independent survey company
that the city hired to discover how Guelph
is viewed from the business community and
every day residents.
Next question
How come every farbridge supporter always
flips back to the mayor and council from
6 years ago when they want to try and make a point.

Hi, Jan;

I could of course be wrong, but I think you will be finding yourself playing catch-up in terms of where people are headed in their thinking about the stuff I've mentioned. The either-or, good-bad mentality you seem to be using is unhelpful in moving this city forward.

You seem to be arguing that bigger businesses are inherently contrary to the interests of the average citizen. The fact of the matter is yes, most jobs come from small and middle-sized businesses, and also, yes, they often have bigger companies as customers, the bigger companies being the ones that would be more inclined to locate in that business park. Which is to say, it's all certainly more complex than how it's being portrayed by certain voices in town; regrettably, with talk of rubber-stamping and what-not, it would seem yours is one.

And of course, never mind the development fees and taxes we'll be gaining on land we've already made the investment into, and what all of that means in tangible ways for everyone.

The Guelph factor is real. We paid money to be told that, in case there was any doubt of it. I do question how representative it is of Guelph as a whole, though.

You mention what you are hearing in the interviews you are conducting. Come to the neighbourhoods in Ward 3. Knock on doors. A lot of them. Determine from whom you meet what is on balance is the voice of this ward. And how much of the Guelph factor you actually meet as part of that. Meet the people who are finally getting back to work after being unemployed for so long and with all that THAT has meant for them and their relationships and any notion of financial security to which they may have once aspired. Sheesh!

The bottom line, Jan, is I am a progressive guy talkng sense here. We have to call bull-crap on the falsehoods we have been saddled with. Why? because it's essential that we move on from inadequate modes of discussing the issues. Time to move forward. Please join me in that. Or, if you don't have the freedom to do that, please at least heed voices like Ernie's.

D C -- when it comes to the issue of our debt, you betcha, we're all going to get on the same page. We will, because we have to. We will understand what is necessary and what it would mean for the things we care about if we choose not to.

Every vote of consequence last time around was 11-2. Now it is 8-5. Still the same results, no matter how you gild the turd. Democracy has been dead in Guelph for at least 6 years now, it is no wonder most of the candidates (possibly even including me) suck and that no one bothers to vote. I don't know what the answer is, I don't know that there even is one. What I do know is that we need councilors with the stones to vote with their heads or their hearts, not just to toe the company line the way the Queen Bee tells them to.

Craig, Craig, Craig ... when it comes to debt, people are rarely on the same page, even within one household. Some people will continue to spend, others will begin or continue to pay off debt. That a debt may actually begin to get paid off hardly means that people are on the same page. That anything actually gets done hardly means that everyone agrees with what is being done.

Again, it's delightfully naive that you think this way. Can you honestly say that politicians in Ottawa or in Toronto have all been on the same page when deficits are trimmed (or expanded) or when debts are reduced (or increased)? As Ray notes above, a vote of 11-2 or a vote of 8-5 would both accomplish the same result. Something is decided and then something is done. But neither actually means that everyone is on the same page.

Plurality does not equal unanimity and it is silly to think that the latter is even a possibility, let alone a goal.

Well, a progressive guy talking sense isn't an oxymoron. Wouldn't have believed it, but in the case of Craig talking about the Guelph factor, he actually is talking sense. Jan, I can tell you from personal experience that the Guelph factor is real and costs money. Maybe you should get some developers, builders, and engineers on your show. What? They won't talk frankly and publicly to a hostile host? When their contracts and approvals depend on the people they'd be trashing? No way!

Read the report, Jan.

Craig's both right and wrong about being on the same page. It will always swing based on representation. Yes, one side will always be stomping all over the other, but at least after a few elections the underdogs usually get a chance. It's not the best system, but it's better than anything else.

On debt, we are functionally all on the same page now, like it or not. We aren't allowed to run a deficit and have a debt ceiling. We're about to find out what happens when that ceiling is reached. That means not doing capital projects we would like to, raising taxes, or some combination of the two.

Fortunately, we have a provincial government to keep the Farbridge administration from becoming like the Papandreou administration.

D C, yes, it's not easy to get everyone on the same page around anything, especially something like debt, but as GOCorporal rightly points out, we are all functionally on the same page, and to add, as we approach and exceed our debt ceiling, we will all experience in some way what that means both in spending and in taxes and perhaps, as a more worse-case scenario, a downgrading of our credit rating. In another time, yes, I could be accused of niavete for expecting us to be on the same page about anything. Circumstances of us being up to our collective neck in debt will be uniquely hard to ignore. Perhaps, D C, just possibly, the niavete in this instance is yours? Possibly, because your suggestion of me being niave suggests most of us won't really notice the impact of our debt, that it won't be all that bad? I guess I'm trying to understand how you think we will for the most part NOT come to be on the same page for what it will mean for us. I guess as well that if there are instances when we do come together with clarity of direction it is when the community has its back up against a wall and its foundational values are a risk. In the end, I suppose one solution required by the Province could be in the form of municipal amalgamation, which would be ironic given the money we've spent isolating ourselves. At least we will in effect have the accountability that seems to be, based on our legal bills, always lacking in someone else.

GOC:
Surely thou Jest!
McGuinty and Duncan are spending like drunken sailors, and heading for the largest annual deficit and Gross Debt in the history of this Provimce.
They will do nothing to rein in a fellow freespender, even tho she is not a Lawyer.
This Province is doomed! Only the Tories (sans Hudak) can save us

Nay, I jest not. Though truly a cosmic jest it is when the spendthrifts of Queen's Park do enforce thrift on their juniors! One might conclude that the universe itself indulges in humour.

Craig, DC has no conception of debt. I wonder if it's related to the fact that DC has no conception of personal responsibility, either. Anyone who expects the government to solve every problem can simply expect the government to solve the debt problem, too. Without pain, of course.

Follow the money. Inevitably, when debt goes bad the people who get burned are taxpayers and investors. (Translation: You and your pension.)

It's not easy, being green. As budgets come down, I will be especially interested in subsidies of various kinds to green iniatives, solar energy being one example. Guelph's been banking heavily on green business recently, with solar manufacturing among other things being touted as a big boost for the city. Recently, that hasn't been going so well, with shift reductions, unsold inventory, and forced product giveaways. If subsidies fall, that bet on being green is going to look pretty shortsighted.

In this business climate, I suggest any business, green or not, dense or not, that shows interest in locating here we should promptly grab. With both hands.

I will be following the upcoming budgets with interest. As Uncle Dalton is forced to in some degree cut spending, another recent premier is looking more and more prophetic.

The business principles are pretty straight forward: controlling costs and increasing revenue. Not all debt is bad but investments need to have sound reasons behind them. Having businesses locate here increases revenue and gives return on investment for the pipes in the ground. It isn't just the development charge and property tax revenue, it is the multiplier employed people contributing to the local economy brings, and the multiple levels of tax that gets paid by them earning and spending money.

Having governments receive third party reports on the business of government should be good news for both business and residents. How reports are acted on will tell the rest of the story, especially as debt gets addressed by controlling costs.

But also by increasing revenue. Only two options from a business standpoint: expense and revenue. Welcoming business brings revenue. Efficiency controls expense.

Nicely laid out argument, Lloyd. Of course, the greater the job density, the greater this multiplier effect will be, meaning more revenue for the City. So, in the view of the Chamber, should City Hall be attracting developments with job densities below the Places to Grow target by reducing development charges? Or should such 'carrots' be reserved for the high-density developments that were originally envisioned for the Hanlon Creek Business Park?

Dave Sills
Consider this as a possibility.
If Guelph were to make it more difficult for low density employment places to set up shop... (a la the apparent Guelph Factor) do you believe that higher density employers would seek Guelph as a place to do business?

Employers are pragmatic. They'll go where it makes business sense to go. Period.

We can affect their calculations in a few ways. We can point out all the advantages of locating in Guelph: Access to markets, good infrastructure, educated workforce, etc. We can dangle some monetary carrots. And we can custom build places to locate. We're doing all three. Good.

Now look at the negative side. What will negatively affect a decision? Answer: uncertainty. No business wants to expose itself to maybes. Maybe they'll protest at the gates. Maybe our building permit will get held up when that crazy treehugger on council wants a complete redesign to save a big maple. Maybe we'll get some bad publicity. Maybe our taxes will go up because the city's near their debt ceiling with no restraint in sight. Maybe our workers will be late because their bus routes change all the time. Maybe the city will cancel out because the loony left thinks we're not dense enough. Maybe the city will sue us, our builder, our engineer... The list goes on.

The thing about uncertainty is that it doesn't even have to be real to scuttle a deal. Just a negative reputation is enough. It's worse if the rep is deserved. And according to the city's own internal report, the Guelph Factor is both real and well enough deserved.

The city should take action to reassure businesses that they are welcome in Guelph. Keep councillors on a short leash and let staff do their job. Train staff to respond quickly and above all, consistently to engineering and regulatory issues. Vigorously enforce anti-obstruction and trespassing laws. Settle existing silly lawsuits and don't start any more. And fix the rampant spending problem.

There's no reason why Guelph shouldn't be a good enough place to do business that companies line up at our door. We could reverse course and make the Guelph Factor refer to how great it is to do business in Guelph.

Let's get on it.

Our debt is so bad ie. maxed out that not only did we have to get a partner for Hanlon Creek who now siphons off a third of all profit, but we couldn't even come up with a lousy $2.5 mil to help build 60 low-income townhouses on Lower Wyndham. Farbridge's one chance in 8 years to leave any kind of legacy regarding the building of public housing, and she blows it. But at least we have a pretty museum and skating rink.

Some on this blog may guffaw when they read this, others may find it worth a read.

I post the link not to provide more fodder for the disaffected but rather because it is apropos to the discussion. I know Matt Soltys quite well and find him a thoughtful, well-informed and educated individual. I am also pleased to hear that the city's SLAPP suit has finally been withdrawn.

http://www.guelphmercury.com/opinion/columns/article/672564--hanlon-creek-sacrificed-in-the-name-of-progress

It may suit personal agendas here to pump up the Guelph Factor but the fact is that the comments regarding the challenges of working in Guelph, made in the leaked draft of the Operational Reviews Scoping Report, came from developers and associated business influences in the external stakeholder focus group (a group of just 14 of which 2 people were identified as from ministry/school board). To correct any misconceptions, there was no community citizen involvement.

To quote "...in particular developers and their engineering/planning consultants, real estate professionals and businesses and their sector representatives"

And "...many of the external participants say that that most if not all of the challenges and issues associated with Guelph are NOT unique to that city - many are noted in other jurisdictions. Some adding that there are virtually NO municipalities in which it is easy or straightforward to do business"

To paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies... "they would say that, wouldn't they?"

So much for the Guelph Factor.

And in reference to Ernie's question (I believe) regarding Places to Grow... yes, I'm very familiar with it and support it.

As to whether it will help stop urban sprawl, time will tell.

Jan

To me, a community should have three guiding principles:
#1. It should be a great place to live
#2. It should be a great place to do business
#3. #2 should not interfere with #1

That last point is the "Guelph Factor". Some communities take it more seriously than others, and I'm thankful that I live in a city that does.

Hi David and GOC,good comments and questions. GOC pretty well nails it in terms of uncertainty and risk management are really big deals. Clear process and consistent regulations and predictable time lines for decisions do a lot to reduce risk. The types of opportunities we have seen in the past few years are very encouraging. And the City is working to improve processes. When you look around, Guelph has a lot to be optimistic about. We are in a good position from very many standpoints. Density is a concern, but very hard to enforce on a market demand. Steve's comment - #2 does not have to be exclusive of #1. In fact you can't have either without having both.

Great to have your insight, Lloyd.

Just to also pick up on GOCorporal's comment about the pragmatism that drives decisions, from what we know about the deal, it would make sense for an operation like that to locate in the HCBP, and in fact, it seems it wouldn't be motivated to locate elsewhere in Guelph. Which means the the HCBP was able to attract business to Guelph (though let's remember its not a done deal yet) that wouldn't have eitherwise come in this instance -- but that's a failure? Do we want the money and jobs, and the spin-offs or not? And if it's actually "no, not really", then I guess we should be honest about that and own what it means for this city. But I don't think most Guelphites are struggling with this issue in the way we seem to be on this thread. What I find curious is how some of us seem to think they won't be negatively impacted if this business and others decide against locating here. A city succeeds or fails job by job. As for good versus bad debt, that distinction depends somewhat on our ability to carry it, doesn't it? Or on what it means for us to carry it?

So, what happens if the headline is we failed in our bid to attract this business? Then what -- do we celebrate that?!

No, Craig, of course not. The opposition to this announcement isn't opposition to the as-yet unnamed company or to the 80-90 jobs it would bring. The problem is that we have a need for 32,000 new jobs by 2031 according to the city's projections and the HCBP was supposed to be a major source of many of those jobs. If the reality is that it fills up with nothing but low job density warehouses then we'll still be left with a need for tens of thousands of jobs. So then what do we do? Bulldoze another few hundred hectares and hope for better luck next time? How much undeveloped wetland is each job worth?

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Joanne

Joanne Shuttleworth is the newsroom lead in municipal affairs coverage for the Guelph Mercury. She is a former Guelph YWCA Woman of Distinction honouree and a past winner of an Ontario Newspapers Award for her work as an editor. You can reach her at jshuttleworth@guelphmercury.com

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About Chris

  • Chris Herhalt
    covers municipal affairs and politics for the Guelph Mercury. Prior to joining the Mercury he worked at The Record of Waterloo Region and at The Canadian Press. He can be reached at cherhalt@guelphmercury.com