The Grand Agenda for Groundwater Action

Groundwater is Guelph’s unique and vital resource, which I am committed to protect. Recently, I was asked if I support a series of twelve policy goals for protecting groundwater in the new Council term:

  1. Nestle

If elected will you "Support a Council Resolution to oppose the renewal of Nestle's permit to take water in Aberfoyle"?

I plan to support any Council resolutions that work towards limiting, reducing, and eventually stopping all unnecessary water taking (at Nestle, Dolime, or anywhere else in the region), while also being cognizant of the need to maintain cordial relationships with our neighbours. Guelph is going to need the support of key Puslinch Township stakeholders for our planned future south end city supply well — planned to be located outside city limits, in the Mill Creek watershed near Victoria and Maltby. One of the most important goals for this next Council is to make sure we can build that well, and that its water taking won't be affected by the Nestle plant. 

Though most likely necessary in the long run, shutting down Nestle is just one step in phasing out single-use bottled water in our society. We'll also need to build the right infrastructure to support the shift towards sustainability. Bottle refill stations must be installed across the city: on public land like parks, recreation centers, and at trail heads; and must be encouraged in private establishments as well. We need a visionary council willing to invest in the infrastructure needed to build the sustainable society necessary for our survival.

2. Clair-Maltby

If elected will you "Set population density at a maximum of 12,050 for Clair-Maltby"?

(The pedantic engineer in me really wants to point out that that's not density; I'm assuming it works out to less than 50 people per hectare.) I agree that we need to limit the construction and the population on the Paris-Galt moraine. The current Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan has us building the kind of urban sprawl we know doesn't work in the 21st century -- we'll never be able to service it with transit, we'll lose money maintaining roads, water supply, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and more surface runoff means less water available to recharge our aquifer. 

I'm not sure how many people we can sustainably fit on those lands, and 50 people per hectare might be the wrong number. If we can design a sustainable, transit-friendly community of reasonable density on part of the land, and keep the sensitive areas of the moraine undeveloped, we might have more than 12,000 people living there, but we'll be in a much better place. I'm not sure this is possible, but I want to leave the option open! I am making a commitment to send the Clair-Maltby plan back to the drawing board and will only support a plan that keeps our important values of sustainability, accessibility, and protection of our cultural and ecological resources at the forefront.

3. Paris-Galt Moraine

If elected will you "Protect the natural water recharge functions of moraine in Clair-Maltby development"?

Yes, for the reasons stated above. Guelph depends on its groundwater -- it's a vital part of what makes our city special.

4. Parks

If elected will you "Provide a full-range and size of parks as mandated by the Official Plan -- urban squares, neighbourhood, community and regional parks for Clair-Maltby development"?

Parks are a huge part of my platform and a major part of why I chose to run for Council. I am committed to keeping the city to its mandated 3.3 ha/1000 people target, funding the land purchases, the construction, and the maintenance of parkland primarily through development charges in the proposed parkland dedication bylaw. We are well short of our required 3.3 ha/1000 people and I will work to fix this. I’ve already taken steps to draw wider attention to the problem with my research into Guelph’s parkland.

5. Transportation

If elected will you "Focus on low-carbon transportation infrastructure to all amenities and residences in Clair-Maltby development"?

Yes, absolutely. The best time to build proper alternative transportation infrastructure is when the neighbourhood is built. It's much harder to retrofit. I'd love to build a pilot for a future city-wide alternative transportation network -- making sure every house has effective cycle and transit connectivity. The area has a lot of natural areas that will make for ideal trail connections. It's my goal to ensure those trails aren't used just for recreation but are built effectively for real transportation -- that is, graded, with asphalt or stone dust, and effective boardwalks and bridges where needed. Trails are much cheaper than roads after all.

6. Natural Heritage System

If elected will you "Restore, protect and maintain the integrity of the Natural Heritage System in the Clair-Maltby Area including the tree canopy and the moraine topography"?

Hearing about the clear-cutting on the moraine was heartbreaking. I will support efforts to restore the lost trees with a variety of native species.

7. Heritage Buildings

If elected will you "Protect the heritage buildings and landscapes identified in the Clair-Maltby Area"?

Yes, absolutely. We've lost many cultural heritage sites in the past twenty years, such as the Mitchell Farmhouse, due to neglect and due to bad decisions by previous councils. We can build around heritage sites -- we're not short of land here.

8. Community Consultation

If elected will you "Consult on Clair-Maltby development with all groups, organizations and individuals who have an interest in city-building"?

The main failure that caused the current Clair-Maltby mess is the lack of real community engagement. Guelph pioneered the concept in the 90's — actually involving citizens in city-building, that is — and we've back-slid on that in the past few years. I'll work to bring community engagement back to the forefront of community planning.

9. Reconciliation

If elected will you "Obtain free, prior, and informed consent from the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, as per the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples before initiating Phase 3 development activities for Clair-Maltby"?

Yes, I will act in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples wherever it's required or proper to do so. We have a great opportunity to be leaders in reconciliation.

10. Hanlon Creek

If elected will you "Fulfill the commitment to establish the Hanlon Creek Conservancy and Nature Reserve and not consider any sale of possible surplus land until the nature reserve is fully established and functioning"?

I see the former Kortright Waterfowl Park and surrounding areas as an important part of the future Guelph Greenbelt -- a complete connection of wetlands, forests and grasslands that stretch from the Paris-Galt Moraine up through the Hanlon Creek and Torrance Creek complexes, connecting along the Speed River through the Dolime site, and further north to Margaret Greene Park and the Mitchell Woods beyond. We have most of the land we'll need already -- and we need to keep those lands to make that system a reality.

11. Dolime Quarry

If elected, will you work to "bring an end to aggregate extraction at the Dolime quarry, and to ensure the highest quality mitigation of the breach and of other damage already done, with expenses covered by the quarry's owner rather than Guelph ratepayers"?

My goal is to protect our groundwater -- and stop wasting water at the quarry. The extraction has our entire aquifer at risk, and in that area, it's a well-fissured and free-flowing part of the aquifer. The quarry owners have put up a deposit to pay for the rehabilitation of the land -- I also want to make sure that as we close the quarry, the company covers not just the environmental but also the social costs of the closure. Any displaced employees who are affected by job loss must be assisted as well.

12. Bluebelt

If elected, will you "Support a Council resolution to include public lands of Guelph's urban river corridor in an expanded Bluebelt"?

I'd like to do more -- and protect the tributaries (Hanlon, Torrance, Ellis and Clythe creeks) as well.