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March 16, 2012

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Any information on what needs to be done to rehabilitate this site or will that have to wait for the committee meeting?

I couldn't see this property on the provincial brownfields register.

http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/environment/en/subject/brownfields/STDPROD_075742.html

Does anyone know anything about the history of the site in question?

I'd like to be satisfied that this isn't just a convenient way to give the developer a tax break when there isn't much to do.

I'm starting to sound like Serious Cynic. :)

Wasn't there a daycare on that land?

Hi Tony,

You're right, there was a daycare.

I'm curious to know from people who've lived in Guelph all their lives as to what was there before the daycare.

the bus station used to be around that area (not right there; to young to remember exact location)before it moved across the street when they made the Eaton center.
Just seems odd that that is a brownfield site but yet small kids were aloud to play there everyday.

tonyt:
Probably there was a gas station on this site. After all there were usually 4 gas stations on every street corner back then (sorry to reveal my age and memory of Guelph) in the 40's and 50's - sort of like the 7-11's and the Dollar Stores of today!
And for those of you too young to know - this is where Quebec Street met Woolwich Street and I am sure that there were at least two gas stations there, not to mention the Red Chevron which was a different sort of "fuel-up" Station.
Guelph was a great place back then, but we were able to hold our booze, Not like this wimpy college generation who puke at the slightest provocation or bad beer.
So that might explain the City's concern over contaminated sites. I used to live in the "groeth area" of Willow West and I was totally unaware that the park there as a former dumpsite of the City. So many of my neighbors died from unusual cancers to make me wonder why the City let this area be developed.
My God, i am sounding like Jan Hall
Peace Brethern, Peace!

The bus station was halfway down the block that used to be the other half of Quebec Street. Buses entered off Quebec and exited onto MacDonnell (or vice versa).

I wouldn't consider that site a brownfield one. This DOES sound like a developer just wanting a financial break.

"Up to $1.7 M" -- i.e. "capped at"? If it less, i.e. not as contaminated as the worse-case projection for this site, great. If it is, and then it would seem the developer is on the hook for the rest and we get in that case a rather dirty situation cleaned up.

Go for it, but put a time limit on it.

apparently there used to be a street there called Priory Street? check googlemaps

Hi
On that corner there used to be a business
called R.O Barber building supplies.
And you are right Louis there used to be a
street there that used to cut the corner going up to upper Macdonell.
R.O Barber father used to have a butcher shop
on the other side of W.C Woods and they used to
keep the meat cold by going on to the river and cutting ice blocks out,putting them on sleighs pulled by horses and then sliding the
ice blocks down a slope into the basement of the butcher shop.
Then on the other side of the river was his
office/warehouse were the train used to come in and off load with supplies.
So there is your little slice of Guelph History.

yea it is strange what googlemaps finds as well. I wonder what they are going to do with Sheehy Court off of Watson Rd. South by Better Beef.

So the developer insists he can only make a go of this condo if it is 18-storeys and now we are told he also wants the city to kick in $1.7m towards site remediation?

What else is he demanding?

The grant approval is going to Council Monday night. Note that this remediation grant will create a ? 10 year shortfall in property taxes to pay the cost of remediation.
I find it interesting that there is no discussion or explanation by city staff of where/how this $1.7 million dollars will be found in the 2013 city budget or how the allocation of this funding will impact our property taxes and/or services.

Laura:
If the grant approval is for $1.7 millions over 10 years, then that amounts to $170k each year which is chump change and probably is covered by new assessments each year. But that is not to digress from your point that each expense must be accounted for as far as the taxpayer is concerned. If the City gives tax relief to one sector, then it is supposed to identify how it covers that revenue loss.
And look st how the City stonewalled on the info request as to ML's expenses to Italy. However ML herself had no problem releasing the info to her friend at the UofGoo radio station. I guess it all depends who is asking - Friend(of the Mayor) or Foe.
But two questions remain unamswered -:
1. What was the purpose of the trip, and
2. Was a trip report filed so that the rest of Council could benefit? Or next year will we see the Gang of Eight travelling to Italy to "share the learning experience"?
OINK OINK - talk about barbarians at the City gates.

Come on cynic, please keep up!

Maggie, in her own words, regarding the trip to Italy in 2010:

http://gangoffour.ca/guelph/why-all-the-fuss-about-guelph-city-councillor-maggie-laidlaws-expenses

Read it and you might learn something. If you are unclear what professional development is, please ask.

Laura,
As Cynic pointed out, the grant is capped at a max of $1.7M over 10 years.
The idea of these grants is to kickstart development on contaminated (brownfield) sites, which ultimately increases the amount of tax revenue being generated while addressing contamination.
In a general sense I am in favour of them for those reasons. Where we get into a bit of a grey area, in my humble opinion, is with projects like this Tricar one which clearly will be going ahead whether the city provides the grant or not.
No need for a kickstart in this case, methinks.

Kudos to Scott for this week's Jury of One.

http://www.guelphmercury.com/opinion/columns/article/696190--jury-of-one-highrise-condo-project-not-best-use-of-brownfield-grant-program

The only two sites where the use of Brownfield grants is currently being considered are the Woods site and the Cooperators daycare site at the corner Macdonell and Woolwich. Developers are salivating over these sites because they are getting the go ahead for some large scale condo developments.

There are another 400+ brownfield sites in Guelph to deal with, some that will need quite the clean-up.

This is no more than a tax rebate for a group that clearly don't need it.

It's interesting to see that some of the people on here supporting this giveaway for developers would typically be ardent critics of tax increases at budget time.

Jan, Think about the following:
Short term financial pain for long term financial gain.
With over 400 brownfield sites in Guelph something has to be done to address this. Otherwise these properties will sit as they are and most likely be abandoned.
An example of positive planning - the Walmart site.
The old gravelpit was not paying much in the way of taxes, around $20k per year. Redevelopment was fought by the eco-nuts as well as the Farbridge supporters on Council. Approval was given by the next Council (Sans Farbridge) and as a result the City is getting close to a million bucks a year in taxes, not to mention the many jobs and other benefits to the City. Farbridge has no problem spending that increased revenue, but unfortunately nothing on affordable housing.
Maybe that is a topic that the Jury of One(sic) could write about.
Or what about the polluted sites that the City posesses like IMICO?
Why are these sites not being addressed? The ones the City owns are nothing but a Liability and the taxes are most likely ZERO! Just imagine how much taxes the IMICO site could generate as re-established Industrial Land?
Maybe if something had been done on this site the City could have attracted the Food Distribution site that Puslinch is bragging about, plus others?
What about an aggressive program for all the other sites. After all it is not like the City is giving out real cash - but rather an incentive on future (and increased) taxes. Sounds like win-win to me.
Worth thinking about!

Brownfield sites threatening our water supply, reason enough to give money to a developer for a condo in downtown Guelph and yet the IMICO site, a genuine threat to our water and probably many other things continues to just sit there and fester.
The hypocrisy of this city's administration just keeps on keepin' on.

Again I ask; how contaminated is this site? Kids have been playing on it for YEARS. Is it in need of $1.7 million dollars worth of rehab? This is a fund for places that need it. Not for ones that don't; and this is a BIG DON'T.
Next up marsh tire!

Does the city have a stated policy of giving such grants to developers of brownfields?
Is the site in question designated as a brownfield?
It seems to me that not allowing this grant on the basis that the developer doesn't need it is a bait-and-switch move, and would send a disturbing message to any developer looking to improve and build on Guelph's other brownfield sites.
The city will recover this money and more when the condos are built. Consider it an investment rather than an expenditure.

Serious
The IMICO site is not a sought after location. It's sandwiched in an industrial crap zone, and no manufacturer in his right mind would set up shop deep in the City. it's inefficient for truck traffic.

tonyt
I would speculate that it's not the surface lands that are of concern, it's the deeper soil layers that present the problem.
Once construction penetrates the surface to put in pilings, garages, foundations etc.... now you're playing in the danger zone and have to remediate. WaterScape condo in Cambridge is a recent example of a similar challenge.

Brownfield sites have to be considered for adaptive re-use, not repeat of current use. (they went industrial dead for a reason)
it's the only effective strategy when locations that were once prime industrial land go defunct, as the industrial requirements change with the times. Projects like the Mill Lofts, Stewart Lofts and the old bus barns turned apartments on Waterloo Ave are prime examples.
I would anticipate through the next 10-20 years industrial sites along York Road and in the Ward will cease to operate and not be re-used for those purposes as industry changes and the needs of businesses make those sites operationally inefficient.

Steve,
Yes, the city does have a specific brownfield redevelopment grant program. I think the term 'brownfield' essentially refers to a site which was formerly used for something else, but the level of contamination -- and therefore required remediation -- will have to be determined by the city and developer together.
The $1.75 is an upset limit, but obviously if the contamination is not as much as anticipated the actual payout would be less and those details will have to be sorted out down the road. (You know, assuming the developer gets permission to build its tower in the first place ...)

"up to"

Presumably, that means a cap. So, as I have said, if remediation costs exceed that limit, we are doubly the winner in this -- in addition to the spin-off tax revenue that goes along with the revitatization of the downtown beyond what can be done with the bar scene, and the multiplier effect of the development and our corresponding ability to pay for public services -- and help with the tax burden for the rest of us, which Jan Hall seems to not understand -- we have facilitated the cleaning up of a site.

Of course, I am premising my support on this with confidence in our City Staff having crunched the numbers and having considered the full financial outcome of this development, in all of its phases, to be prepared to make this kind of recommendation. If anyone has numbers that indicate otherwise, in terms of the net financial outcome for the City and the downtown specifically that brings the analysis completed by City Staff into question, please advise.

Shades of the Guelph Factor.

The Town's Brownfield CIP states that the other 20 percent of increased taxes generated from this development (close to $340,000 over 10 years) will be set aside and used to assist the City in the remediation of other Brownfield sites in Guelph.

Tax Increment Grants are a great tool for municipalities to encourage remediation of brownfield sites.

I'd be curious to see how much the site will generate in development charges.

I watched Guelph City Council last Monday when the brownfield grant was approved and, unless I missed it, I did not hear any reference to the fact that some of the contamination is on lands owned by the City of Guelph. The city owned site is upgradient from the proposed development. Does the city intend to clean up 152 Macdonell the property it currently owns or will the city land be cleaned up as part of the brownfield site grant?

Another question why wasn't the city site cleaned up when the buildings were demolished?
Is the city owned site on the list of contaminated properties that was compiled during their groundwater protection. studies? Who paid for the XCG Phase II ESI? (see below)

The April 2011, XCG Phase II ESI report "City Lands Located Northeast of 152 Macdonell, Guelph ON" reports that "Monitoring well XCG-2 is located at the northeast cornor of the subject site on what is currently City of Guelph property". (152 Macdonell Street was formerly known as 130 Macdonell.)
Vanadium and tetrachloroethylene( PCE ) were both found in the groundwater at levels well above the "MOE Table Standards for all types of property use in a groundwater situation". Vanadium level was 25.2 ug/l (MOE standard is 6.2.) PCE level was 17( MOE standard is 26.) Vanadium is listed as one of the 14 most toxic metals. PCE was commonly used at dry cleaners.
The city owned site is upgradient from the proposed devlopment.

For those on this blog who have wondered what businesses used to be located on Macdonell - or who want more info - I suggest that you go to the City of Guelph "Living Section" on the web page and scroll down to Planning - click and you will see another section - "Development" click and all the current proposed developments in the city show up. The ESI reports for this property are located there.

Laura

Wonderful post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on thiss topic? I'd be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thank you!

It's going to be ending of mine day, but before finish I am reading this wonderful article to improve my experience.

Wow thgat was strange. I jut wrote an extfremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wnted to say excellent blog!

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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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  • 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