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January 29, 2013

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Here's something I'd like council to consider that can address some of what this woman writes about:
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/fixer/article/1317645--the-fixer-taxpayers-don-t-pay-for-transit-shelters-but-the-city-earns-cash-from-them
I'm tired of seeing people standing out in the elements waiting for transit as well.
Cam Guthrie
P.S Thanks to Steven Petric for first showing this above article to me.

If some company is willing to build bus shelters in exchange for advertising rights I say go for it, Cam.
As for the lack of amenities in the East End, that will only be solved if and when sensible ward boundaries are redrawn and they don't have to compete for attention with the over-represented downtown.

Steve,

That is an understatement. Can you imagine if Farbridge, Laidlaw, Findlay, Burcher, Piper, Hofland, Bell and VanHellemond did not live within walking distance to the downtown? Can you imagine if we took some of the millions that they have been pouring into the downtown and instead reminded them they could use some of our money to encourage development in the east end. There is a huge, huge undeclared conflict of interest here.

"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time." -- Steven Wright

Seriously, though, there is very little the city can do to encourage developers to build in a particular area. It has nothing to do with any perceived conflict of interest, in my opinion.

Very interesting article,but most people look at what they want to be close to when they buy a house. Don't move into a neighbourhood and expect everything to be built around you. There are many places in Guelph to buy a house that have all your needs right next door. When I purchased a house 29 years ago, I bought for location, and didn't want to live in an area with no amenities. Either move or buy a car.

I believe Transit currently owns and installs all the shelters within the city and has a 3rd party run the ad side. I will get clarification from transit on this.

I will forward this specific concern to Transit and Transit Advisory Committee for discussion at our next meeting in Feb.

Provide a shelter and make sure the area is properly lit.
That's what a coherent administration would do to try and encourage more people to use public transportation. Here in Guelph however we'd rather give a pile of money to an out of province consultant to create an entirely new system.
The problem is new doesn't mean better or even equal to the old system, just more expensive.

Actually, Scott, there's a lot the city can do to encourage development. They do it all the time downtown.
First, stop centralizing services. Building a huge central library with small, understocked satellite branches only encourages people to leave their neighbourhood and travel downtown to get decent service and selection. I guarantee that many of the existing local branch activities will dry up when the new building opens.
Move or buy a car, indeed. For those who can afford to, anyway.

So much for the walkable city idea (or is it just a walkable downtown core they had in mind all along?)

Such infrastructure can easily be privatized. City need not to spend on upkeep too. We should learn to partnership with private businesses. Thats the way to go.

I think the worry from one side is if its in private hands they can take it away if there is a dispute or something. Easily can be avoided with stipulations within contract with penalties for both sides if such a thing were to happen. Anyways, at 10 years, shouldn't be an issue. Its not rocket science.

Have to wonder about the impact of this on-going issue on property values in that area of town.

Ward 1 Councillors Bell and Furfaro seem to have worked a few angles towards a creative solution but it's not clear to me what if any help they have received from their council colleagues in applying political pressure to get something more substantial going into that area of town.

Perhaps that neighbourhood could launch a city-wide "Build It or Sell It" boycott of Zehrs -- it seems it's up to the broader marketplace, the free market to apply pressure in the best way it can -- by spending its dollars elsewhere. The free market can be a means to achieve positive political change.

This has become an issue we should all be concerned about, even if we live in an area that has all of the amenities and then some that are lacking in the east-end -- it goes to us thinking and behaving as a city and not just a collection of neighbourhoods. Today it is this issue, in that area of town, next time around it will be another issue in another area of town -- let's have a broader view of what it is to be a community. We need to be able to count on each other. It also goes to the discord when a particular contingency and area of town seem to garner a disproportionate amount of "public money" and council time.

Again, it would be interesting data if someone was to breakdown by minutes of discussion how much of Council's time is spent on what issues/ areas of the city.

In the meantime, each of us have to be our own best authority on what is safe and the author of the letter may feel more secure in another area of town.

The east end will explode with ppl and development when a) Jail lands are redeveloped b) Watson GO Station is built by 2020 C) Councillors do like they did with the West side which had same issue in the 1990s

I remember before they changed the transit routes the number of shelters to toal number of stops was 1 in 7. I can only imagine that ratio was gone up since a lot of changed routes that saw stops moved, even to the other side of the road, lost the shelters that were already there.

Advertising on transit is a question I've always wondered about as well, actually. If you look at the ad space along the roof of the bus interior, it's rarely used unless it's by the City or Province as PSAs. Who's in charge of soliciting ads for the buses and shelters? Is there no appeal anymore to reach this captive audience? All good questions (I think).

Current Information about Bus Advertising and Shelters as listed in FAQ section of Guelph Transit:

Who do I contact to advertise on Guelph Transit buses, shelters, or benches?

Bus interior, exterior, or shelter:


Sambrook Media Corporation
866-415-0024
info@sambrookmedia.com
www.sambrookmedia.com


Bench:
Creative Outdoor Advertising
800-661-6088
http://www.creativeoutdoor.com/index.html


Steve,

Point taken. I guess my comment was more in response to those who say -- and it was said to me again in the last few days with respect to the Lafarge lands -- that the city should "not allow" developers to build in a certain area of the city if there are amenities required in other areas.
People seem to think the city has the power to, say, block a grocery store at the Lafarge lands and instead force them to build in the east end.
You will recall that was the nucleus of the 10-year battle against Walmart, which finally resulted in Walmart building exactly where they wanted to.

My closest bus stop used to have a shelter before the route changes. Now the exact same stop is used for the new route, but the shelter is gone.

The City currently views the downtown as a priority - to the exclusion of the rest of the city. If we had allocated half of the resources (time and $) to the east end instead of the downtown, it would be vibrant right now instead of empty. The biggest problem is the home address of the majority of city councillors. The Serene condos that are about to be built in the south end along Gordon St will require the clear cutting of several acres of forest - do you think they would allow this if it was anywhere near the downtown where they live? Has anyone heard one complaint or even a comment from them?

Gord, many people who have bought in that area were assured by the developers that a grocery store was imminently on its way, as were a gas station, corner stores, etc.. That is how that part of town was sold. Granted, never believe a word spoken by a salesman, but its a bit harsh to blame east end residents and say they never should have bought out there.

I agree completely with the letter writer and cannot help but think she has been let down by the developer, retailers and most importantly, the city. I also know I would not want my daughter to have to wait outside in the cold rain at night in the middle of nowhere. We can do better than that.

Live somewhere in the City other then the Downtown and not happy with the service provided for the money charged?
Lets withhold our taxes, on mass. That will get their attention.

I read a degree of hysteria in the author's fears. Perhaps some of that is healthy, but if you're scared of Coyotes, there's not much that can be done in terms of assurance.

Are her other fears valid? No more so than waiting in many places in Guelph for a bus.

I agree with Tracey, in practicable terms, there's not much that can be done save for some protection from the elements: Guthrie's idea: A shelter.

And yes, I caught that debate in the TorStar on the open-sided bus shelter, which the advertiser now claims will be replaced by a 'full' one.

But for those complaining on the need for the downtown core to satisfy the Places to Grow requirements, you cut off your nose to spite your feet (sic). 'Guelph Central' station is hardly a show of 'state of the art' when it comes to bus stations. There's not a proper shelter to be had there, let alone a toilet.

The best the letter author can wish for is an enclosed shelter. Much of Guelph is in the same leaky boat.

And don't worry about the Coyotes. They worry more about you than you about them.

Ans speaking of Coyotes and the TTC, when is Guelph going to enter the age of enlightenment and allow dogs on transit like Toronto, of all cities, does?

Many US and European cities also allow them. What's Guelph's problem? Choking on being too busy trying to be 'green'?

RM writes:
[The City currently views the downtown as a priority - to the exclusion of the rest of the city. ]
You seem to have a minimal grasp of what 'densification' means. Guelph's core is desperately trying to achieve what is required of it to lay claim to the term 'city'. Taken a look at the ridership figures for the GO train at all? It's a joke. The only hope is that by providing the service, the justification will come later. Densified cores do that. Another poster mentions a GO train station in the east end. It's news to me, and even if there was, it isn't going to be justified by the present density there.

So what do you propose? Densifying the east end and then complaining how the suburbs have lost their 'open charm'.

You can't have it all ways. As it is, Guelph's 'core' leaves a lot to be desired. It's one of the largest ash-trays I'm aware of. The challenge is to further develop the core to change the culture, or do it in your backyard.

Name your choice.

It is correct that the city is to blame for this situation. The city never should have authorized the development of the suburbs at Watson and Starwood. This is truly Guelph city council's fault.

The city knows that when developers consume farmland and wildlands, they dispossess wildlife and force them into urban areas. This leads to unavoidable conflict between people and wild animals. Just because no one has been eaten by a coyote yet doesn't mean it can't happen.

The city knows that the rampant expansion of far-flung suburbs in the last twenty years have forced Guelph Transit to accommodate increasingly underused and profitless bus routes. This has starved the system of funds that could be put toward bus shelters.

The city well knows that right wing councillors and citizens already howl bloody murder at the money currently allocated to Guelph Transit. It should be aware that it will never be able to secure the funds to pay for more bus shelters, appropriate lighting, or other safety features.

The city should also know that suburbs are inherently unwalkable and hostile to mass transit, and that no matter what infrastructure is installed at stops, residents will never feel safe because so few people walk or use transit in the burbs.

I sympathize greatly with the letter writer. My sympathy would be slightly greater if she had not also chosen to buy a house in such an unwalkable, lonely, coyote-infested nowhere, but that is neither here nor there.

Luke: You make good points as that relates to the need for 'densification'. In doing so, you address a point I failed to make to RM in my previous post. RM wrote:
[The Serene condos that are about to be built in the south end along Gordon St will require the clear cutting of several acres of forest - do you think they would allow this if it was anywhere near the downtown where they live?] RM rather misses the point. There are no forests downtown...because it is downtown. NYC this ain't! (Central Park), but that being said, Guelph does have a reasonable expanse of green strips, mostly along the rivers, albeit some very polluted (Eramosa).

Luke writes:
[The city well knows that right wing councillors and citizens already howl bloody murder at the money currently allocated to Guelph Transit. It should be aware that it will never be able to secure the funds to pay for more bus shelters, appropriate lighting, or other safety features.]

I'm a Centrist, and yet I think the monies spent on Guelph Transit have shown woefully poor results. It's not that I begrudge the expenditure, it's just the incredibly poor return for the massive sums spent on 'consultants'. But that summates a lot of what I see in Guelph: very poor return per investment of taxpayers' dollars.

As for shelters, many municipalities *don't* pay for public shelters out of transit coffers. It's usually from their 'Works Dep't'.

Some larger cities' shelters are in fact not from coffers at all, as Guthrie alludes to in Toronto. It's a Montreal Ad Agency that provides the infrastructure to display their wares. Guelph doesn't have the 'critical mass' to attract such deals.

But that brings us back to densification, a subject many Guelphites are so uneasy with.

Is this a City or not folks? If it is (and it's certainly incorporated as such) then concentrating mass at the centre is needed to support transit and other services. One poster lays claim to (gist) 'the services of the central library in the suburbs'.

And you will pay for them with your taxes I presume? Many folks want it every which way.

And don't be scared of the Coyotes, folks. I'm very familiar with their behaviour. If you're scared of Coyotes, then you're blind to much greater dangers, like getting hit by a car waiting for the bus.

Steve S - "And don't worry about the Coyotes. They worry more about you than you about them."

True about wolves. Not so much when it comes to coyotes. (Google "coyote attacks".)

Craig: That's a pretty reckless claim considering that my comparator for risk was being hit by a car:

Wikipedia:
[Coyote attacks on humans are uncommon and rarely cause serious injuries][...][research into the genetics of the eastern coyote indicates those involved in attacks in northeast North America, including Pennsylvania, New York, New England, and eastern Canada, may have actually been coywolves, hybrids of Canis latrans and Canis lupus, not fully coyotes.[3]]
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote_attacks_on_humans

My point stands. And btw, if a creature intent on attack is loose (most likely a human, btw) then what protection is a bus shelter going to offer?

But you do an excellent job of illustrating how frivolous some of the complaints are.

Geo makes this one:
[First, stop centralizing services. Building a huge central library with small, understocked satellite branches only encourages people to leave their neighbourhood and travel downtown to get decent service and selection.]

Now I'm not one in favour of a new library. I see the claims as ridiculous in terms of need. The only valid complaints I can determine for the existing central one is "water leakage problems" and "lack of parking".

Oh my aching hangnails! Fix it and expand it! Whatever happened to "making do in tough times?" If the library can raise funds privately, then excellent. But public money is also being spent. Big time.

But tell me this, Geo: Would Toronto have the Research Library (initially not part of the TO library system, but later melded) if every suburb wanted the same thing?

*Centralization* is the key in many cases to attracting the best. Should we 'decentralize' the General Hospital? How about City Hall? Move little bits all around? (perhaps not such a bad idea...lol) How about the central bus station?

"Suburbs" are called that for a very good reason. You don't like the lack of amenities? Then don't live in one. That being said, I'm still stymied to understand if there is such a great demand for a supermarket in the east, then why has the Market not responded by catering to it? Perhaps Loblaws getting shafted in the past has something to do with it?

That is something that the previous council has to answer for, as far as I can understand reading old news-stories on the matter.

Downtown *really* needs an affordable shopping market, but that's a whole other issue.

Steve S, without overstating it, as I understand it, coyotes are known to attack people -- unlike wolves, which will attack livestock but not people. My point is, a coyote attack can happen. A person is wise to wary of them, and not to assume a coyote is more afraid of them than they are of it, and that is all I was saying.

I have hunted coyotes (and other things) for 20+ years, and they are certainly less skittish than in the past. Attacks on humans are rare though, but if you are worried, get some annimal repellent.

Saines - the go train is excellent example. It should have been built where there was room for ample free parking to encourage the largest number of GTA commuters (all in the southend) to use it. Anyone silly enough to live downtown is unlikely to use a go train. They will typically be younger people without kids and those people will live in condos in Toronto, not Guelph.

This is yet another example of the huge conflict of interest that exists with the majority of council. They encouraged and supported Metrolinx for this location - it's absurd - yet it will be within walking distance for them.

We need crazy Clayton Ruby to highlight this conflict.

RM: Agreed on aspects re: GO. In case I had misled on "East side GO station", I meant at this time. Where Guelph's second GO station will be is just a wild guess at this time, but totally agreed on the parking issue, but do think a central GO station is the right move....but that is validated by having a second one with more than adequate parking.

I don't like to encourage car use, it's really not what transit is about, but in Guelph being so sprawled, it's unavoidable that time of the morning. Guelph Transit really don't help, but that's another rant.

I hope this subject comes up again in this forum. Kudos to the Mercury btw and Scott for hosting a quality forum where he sparks the topic. Even some of the points I don't agree with are mostly very well made.

Curious how the mention of the LaFarge lands no longer cues the 'west side GO station' discussion. I do think *strategically* the second station should be on the east side, as that is the direction of travel down the line.
----------
Viggen:

I used to have a studio in the Toronto Docks, down on Polson Av. One year, the rabbits invaded. They were *everywhere*! One would run in front of the bike every five seconds when cycling the waterfront route.

The next year, the Coyotes arrived. I'd never seen one close before, always at a distance as a kid. They have lost their fear of humans, but still avoid them. One walked right across my path, perhaps ten feet away. He/she knew that I didn't have a hope catching it. You can befriend most wildlife. Docks also teemed with feral cats, gophers and raccoons, the latter of which I adopted an orphaned kit, story in itself (amazing creatures, it eventually left one day, never phoned or sent a card. It was a successful reintegration).

But Coyotes....they just don't care. As canines go, they are very different from any other subspecies. (I had a wolf-dog hybrid, ex sled lead dog for thirteen years in the Yukon. Amazing animal, I miss him dearly to this day...) but a lot of what the Coyotes ate wasn't just 'fresh rabbit' and perhaps feral kittens (a full size feral cat would make a mess of a Coyote, the eyes would go first), but discarded fast food. The one I first saw that took me aback? He had a KFC box in his mouth!

Mmmmmm...tastes like chicken...

Btw: Guess who else comes to dinner in TO now-days? Possum. You see them rummaging through garbage cans and often hit on side streets. I'd be far more afraid of running afoul of a Possum than a Coyote!

It is sad that people today are so afraid.

Afraid of criminals and coyotes. Afraid of being alone at night. Afraid of baseballs, skating on ponds, and being sued for letting people play baseball or skate on ponds.

"Safe" is such a subjective word. Statistically, the young woman should be much more afraid of being hit by the bus she's waiting for than of being attacked by coyotes.

Perhaps the cure isn't so much new bus shelters and more development as it is a dose of reality.

it also puts the city liable if someone gets attacked out there, like someone getting mugged, there is no real surveillance out there as it could happen.

Then the victum could turn around and sue the city for lack of security, lighting, etc.

Louis:
Your concerns are exactly what is wrong with this Country. Very simply - If something unfortunate happens to you - well then SUE SOMEBODY! Federal, Provincial, Municipal, your neighbours, the police, strangers, ANYBODY.
WHEN i GREW UP PEOPLE WERE EXPECTED TO SUCK UP ANY MISFORTUNES THAT HAPPENED TO THEM. NOT ANYMORE. NOW THE DEAL IS TO FIND A HEARSE-CHASING LAWYER WHO WILL SUE ANYBODY ABOUT ANYTHING PROVIDED THAT HIS LAW FIRM GETS A HEALTHY PERCENTAGE OF YOUR award. That is the calling card of legal firms that you will find advertising their services. They claim "fo charges if we do not get you a financial settlemrnt. OK - The Judge allows you $1 for pain and suffering, and this allows the Legal Beagle to nail you with a HUGE legal bill.
Caveat Emptor!!
I hate to say it but Canada is becoming as litigious as the USA!

Thanks in favor of sharing such a fastidious thought, paragraph is good, thats why i have read it completely

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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