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Thank You

October 27th, 2010

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family, friends, supporters and volunteers for the fantastic assistance and encouragement they have given me over the last few months during the election.

I would also like to thank my constituents who provided financial support, requested lawn signs and those who came out and showed their support at the ballot box.

I am humbled and grateful to all of you.

I think we accomplished a tremendous amount in a very short time and that the efforts of council over the last few years will help position this city for prosperity and a quality of life second to none.

Serving my community in public office was both challenging and rewarding;  I am a better person for the experience and wish the same for all those newly elected, and those re-elected to Guelph City Council this term.

Re-election Campaign Announced

July 27th, 2010

I am deeply grateful for being given the opportunity to serve my community as City Councilor;  it has been one of the most significant responsibilities I have undertaken.

I would like to thank my constituents for their faith in me and ask for your support to represent your interests at City Hall for a second term.

Please visit my campaign website for complete information about the issues we face and my vision for the future of Guelph

I will be taking a brief sabbatical from blogging during the election period.

Guelph Hydro to Implement Sustainable Energy Projects for City of Guelph

July 16th, 2010

Rooftop solar, biogas and district energy being explored under the Community Energy Initiative

The City of Guelph recently named Guelph Hydro Inc. as the primary developer and implementer of energy-related projects under the City’s Community Energy Initiative.

Guelph Hydro Inc., a wholly owned entity of the City, will be responsible for taking the lead in developing sustainable energy projects within city-owned assets. This will include leasing municipal properties including roofs of municipal buildings for rooftop solar installations as well as developing, building and operating district energy and other clean power projects.

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Guelph is Canada’s water steward leader

June 10th, 2010

Reprinted from “Aguanomics”

With 20% of the world’s freshwater resources, many can assume that Canada is quite fortunate with its abundance of water. As Canadians though, we undoubtedly take advantage of our water as we consume on average 343 litres of water per capita per day (lcd). That is absurd considering that the Israelis consume 135 lcd and the Swedish 200 lcd. At least we’re better than the Americans’ 382 lcd. The focus of this post is to draw your attention to Ontario; Canada’s most populous and urbanized province in close proximity to the Great Lakes

In Ontario, we are just starting to have a dialogue over water conservation where water metering, incentives for water efficient technology and education around water resources is becoming a more important matter. While Toronto is beefing up its efforts — most recently through its low-flush toilet incentive program — it is neither Ontario’s nor Canada’s water conservation leader.

In Ontario, being surrounded by surface water reassures the population that water is plentiful and ubiquitous. This makes it difficult to justify the need for conservation. However, one municipality, Guelph (slightly west of Toronto) is being progressive and holistic with its water conservation efforts.

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It’s a time to step forward

May 31st, 2010

This Editorial appeared in today’s Mercury – inspired in part by a comment I made on the Mercury political blog 59 Carden Street (reprinted at the bottom of this post)

Guelph is often referred to as The Royal City.

It could at least as fairly be nicknamed The Activist City. There’s a long tradition of such in the city. Broaden your interpretation of the term if necessary and then embrace some of the history of local activism – if you’re off-put by some recent tactics and actors associated with the label.

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Parkwood Gardens – Rainbarrel Sale

May 12th, 2010

It’s going to be a dry summer. Capture the rain. Keep your garden green.

DATE:               Saturday May 15, 2010
TIME:                10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
LOCATION:     West End Community Centre, Guelph (21 Imperial Rd. South)

DATE:               Wednesday May 19, 2010
TIME:                5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
LOCATION:     The Stone Store, Guelph (14 Commercial Street)

•    220 litre rain barrel:   choose from two styles for $60 or $65 (+ taxes)
•    double barrels: $115  (+ taxes)

**Visa and Mastercard accepted**

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Envision Guelph – an Official Plan update

May 12th, 2010

The City of Guelph has completed Envision Guelph – the City’s Official Plan update. The document will guide residential, employment, and commercial development, natural and cultural heritage conservation and the city’s transportation and energy systems over the next 20 years.

The 300-page document is available for public review. City Council is asking for comments and will hear presentations from the public during a meeting on May 20 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers.

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Salamander Monitoring Results

May 10th, 2010

Results of the recently completed salamander monitoring program indicate no Jefferson Salamander presence within the Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP) lands. Natural Resource Solutions Inc. completed a comprehensive salamander monitoring program at the site between March 11 and April 30, on behalf of the City of Guelph, Belmont Equity (HCBP) Holdings Ltd. and Guelph Land Holdings Ltd. The monitoring program was developed in consultation with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Guelph District Office, City staff and Dr. Jim Bogart, Chair of the Jefferson Salamander Recovery Team.

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Guelph Field Naturalists speak out about The Hanlon Creek Business Park

March 16th, 2010

The following letter appears in the latest issue of Ontario Nature magazine.  It was written in response to an article that appeared in the Autumn 2009.  (Ontario Nature is an umbrella organization for all naturalists groups in Ontario as well as other environmental groups.)

Unfinished Business

The Guelph Field Naturalists (GFN) would like to express our disappointment with your article “Risky Business” [Autumn 2009], which reported on the proposed Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP) development in Guelph.

The article is riddled with misinformation and was written in a biased manner. In addition, neither City of Guelph officials, Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) staff, the city’s Environmental Advisory Committee nor the environmental consulting firm that studied the site were cited. We suggest that, in future, your articles should be fact checked and that local affiliated members of Ontario Nature should always be contacted to provide local information.

The GFN has contributed input to the proposed HCBP for more than five years. We support the proposed HCBP development, both for its protection of natural heritage features and for one of its goals – providing local employment for Guelph citizens, [and] thereby reducing the need for commuting to other cities.

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City identifies protection areas as part of plan to protect drinking water

March 15th, 2010

The City of Guelph has identified vulnerable local water supply source areas in need of protection, called wellhead protection areas and intake protection zones, in compliance with the provincial Clean Water Act.

All Ontario cities, including Guelph, are required by the Act to define and map vulnerable areas around water supply sources—either a supply well, or surface water intake area—that could be affected by potential threats. These areas require extra care in order to protect water quality. Potential threats, including common commercial and residential activities that take place on properties in these vulnerable areas, are currently being evaluated and will be ranked according to criteria developed by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE).

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On Being Canadian

March 1st, 2010

Like many Canadians I spoke with over the last few weeks, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between the opening ceremonies of the Canadian Winter Olympics and the opening ceremonies of the recent summer Olympics in Beijing.

Without a question, the Beijing opening ceremonies were flawless and awe inspiring. They were a spectacle the kind of which may never have been witnessed before. The Canadian opening ceremonies were…well, not exactly flawless.

As many of you know, the fourth ‘leg’ of the Olympic cauldron didn’t work. It failed to rise up out of the floor leaving one of our torch bearers holding the bag, or more precisely, holding the torch.

In the weeks that followed I heard many people respond critically about our opening ceremonies; it wasn’t “perfect” – it “failed” – it was an “embarrassment”. I began to contemplate how well, or how poorly, our opening ceremonies portrayed our nation to the rest of the world. It wasn’t until 17 days later watching the closing ceremonies that it became apparent just how proud I am to be a Canadian.

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Community Report Card

February 16th, 2010

Last summer I hand delivered a survey to several thousand households in our neighbourhood to better understand and represent your needs at City Hall. I was grateful to receive well over 300 responses, many commenting it was the first time anyone had asked for their opinion.

Five common themes emerged that will continue to require focused attention and action. Here’s what I heard;


  • Communication - residents want timely information about progress on current and emerging issues
  • Employment  - job creation and economic development is critical at this time
  • Control Spending / Reduce Taxes – appropriate controls and measured spending need to be in place
  • Protect our Environmental – our water sources and supply need vigilant attention
  • Community Safety -  more physicians are required and vandalism and speeding needs to be curtailed


One of the most challenging roles for a City Councilor is to maintain a strong connection with those I serve. Thank you for your continued support.

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Project Update: Neighbourhood Engagement Study

February 16th, 2010

The Sustainable Neighbourhood Engagement Framework Study explores the way in which the City partners, and engages with specific neighbourhood groups. It also includes how the community can respond to the elimination of funding for Community Development workers currently provided by Family and Children’s Services to work in vulnerable neighbourhoods.
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Local Support for Haiti

January 25th, 2010

There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for the victims of the disaster in Haiti

Below is a list of the local events / initiative in our community where you can lend your support.

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We should keep our options open on the new library

November 30th, 2009


This past Monday, largely due to the efforts of Coun. Mike Salisbury, Guelph city council decided not to turn the city’s recently acquired building at 152-158 Wyndham St. into a parking lot, at least not yet. They voted to investigate the option of renovating it for other possible interim uses while we wait for the day, perhaps quite distant, when it is slated to become part of the proposed new central library.

Good for our council. The merchants currently located along Wyndham must be breathing a long collective sigh of relief. A gaping hole in the fabric of the existing frontage is the last thing they need now, as they struggle to maintain a semblance of commercial vitality on their street.

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An Assessment of Guelph’s Finances

October 21st, 2009

I like Gerry Barker – I find myself waiting eagerly for his editorial column; a longstanding diatribe about local municipal politics published bi-weekly in the Mercury.

I also like Steven Colbert – Steven is a popular late night TV talk show host featured on the Comedy Network who plays an opinionated and self-righteous commentator who “unwittingly” uses a number of logical fallacies to ridicule the actions of politicians and other public figures. By taking their statements and “the facts” to the furthest (supposedly) logical conclusion, he uses irony and sarcasm to paint a twisted picture of reality.

Both of these gentlemen are gifted satirists and both of them can be very entertaining (and even enlightening) if you don’t take them too seriously.

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$44 Million Infrastructure Stimulus Funding

June 5th, 2009

On June 5, 2009, the governments of Canada and Ontario announced a joint investment of more than $44.4 million for 21 infrastructure projects identified as priorities for the City of Guelph that will create jobs and help build a stronger community.  The City of Guelph will contribute $22.2 M.
Through Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the federal government has established a new $4-billion Infrastructure Stimulus Fund that provides funding to provincial, territorial and municipal construction-ready infrastructure rehabilitation projects. Funding to Ontario communities, which will be matched by the government of Ontario as part of its 2009 provincial budget, Confronting the Challenge: Building our Economic Future, is available for two years for projects that will be built during the 2009 and 2010 construction seasons.,

Youth Shelter Update

June 2nd, 2009

The City, through its operator Wyndham House, has provided an interim shelter for at-risk youth since November 2008 at the former Delhi Community Centre.  This interim facility provides twelve beds and has been operating at about a 50 percent occupancy rate. There have been 51 clients using the facility in the period between November 2008 and the end of March 2009 and the average length of stay was six days. Over 40% of the youth participated in Wyndham House’s After-Care support program to obtain the individual supports they need to find and maintain a longer-term housing situation.

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Long Term Financial Plan Underway

May 28th, 2009

As part of our commitment to good governance, Guelph City Council met last night to learn more about the City’s Long Term Financial Plan and a new tool that will help prioritize capital projects, both of which will strengthen strategic and fiscal management for the City.

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Water conservation and efficiency policy recommendations

May 26th, 2009

Guelph City Council voted to adopt the policy recommendations of Water Conservation and Efficiency Strategy Update at last night’s Council meeting.

The policy recommendations include formally endorsing the three water reduction goals of the City’s Water Supply Master Plan, the formation of a Water Conservation and Efficiency Advisory Committee to provide ongoing public consultation throughout strategy implementation, and an enhanced public education program.

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New organics processing facility

April 28th, 2009

Construction of Guelph’s new organic waste processing facility could get underway as early as this fall, after Guelph City Council selected Maple Reinders to design and build the facility at last night’s Council meeting.

Maple Reinders presented its proposal to design and build a new organic waste processing facility using in-vessel tunnel composting — a process whereby organic material is completely sealed inside a concrete container as it decomposes.

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New City Hall Opens

April 7th, 2009

Today, Guelph’s new City Hall is officially open to the public. The new building located at 1 Carden Street is home to City departments that have, until now, been based out of five satellite locations around the city.

Just inside the front doors is ServiceGuelph, the City’s centralized customer service, makes access to information, services and resources even simpler. People can purchase transit passes, sign up for recreation programs, buy dog licenses, pay parking tickets and property taxes and more. ServiceGuelph is open Monday to Friday, 8:30a.m. to 4:30p.m. A full list of services is available at serviceguelph.

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Guelph Mercury Editorial

December 27th, 2008

Bravo for creating arts, culture post

By Renann Isaacs, curator, Alma Gallery, Guelph

Dear Editor – Re: “Need for cultural post debated” (Guelph Mercury, Dec. 19).

Hooray for Mike Salisbury and the six other councillors who voted in support of creating a much needed position for an arts and culture supervisor. I can’t believe Guelph has been without one.

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Lowest Tax Rate of Last Two Terms

December 24th, 2008

I find it interesting that when city staff reported the possibility of a 6.5% tax increase it was front page news. However, when Council pared down this estimate to deliver the lowest tax increase of the last two terms of council it was reported on page three of the Mercury.

Well, I certainly feel that the lowest tax increase in 5 years (despite being among the fastest growing urban areas in Canada) is VERY significant.

Along with growth demanding increased use of the city’s roads, water, wastewater, housing and quality parks and public spaces we have dramatically improved public transit with the implementation of 20 minute bus service this year.

6.9% in 2004 – Previous Council
5.1% in 2005 – Previous Council
4.7% in 2006.
4.3% in 2007
3.8% in 2008

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Small Victories

October 28th, 2008

One of the benefits of living in the ward I represent is noticing the small things that need attention. One of those “small things” can now be crossed off my list.

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Why I voted YES to the merger.

September 30th, 2008

We were told that the changing regulatory environment was forcing the issue. “Merge now or risk being forced to do so at a later date”.

While I think that it is pretty unlikely that we will be forced against our will to merge I believe that the OEB will continue to create a regulatory environment so onerous that smaller utilities will ultimately have to choose between spiralling distribution rates and operational deficits of full ownership or to accept a “tax incentive” to partner with other LDC’s for survival.

This Machiavellian reality of the current provincial energy policy was certainly not the sole reason to consider a merger, it was however the context of the discussion.

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The Mayor Speaks Out About the Proposed Merger

September 25th, 2008

The following entry is reprinted from a memo sent out by the Mayor regarding the proposed Hydro merger.

As the Shareholder Representative on the Guelph Hydro Inc. (GHI) Board of Directors, I support the recommendation to merge Guelph Hydro Electric Systems Inc. (GHESI) with Horizon Utilities Corp. (Horizon).

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Chamber of Commerce Reaches a Conclusion

September 24th, 2008

The Guelph Chamber of Commerce (representing 825 businesses in Guelph, and over 40,000 employees) has come out with their own independent analysis of the Guelph Hydro merger proposal.

The entire report can be downloaded here – Chamber of Commerce Hydro Analysis.

Excerpts from the report are reprinted below.

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Playground Improvements

September 22nd, 2008

Parks Planning Department is preparing to replace playground equipment in Marksam Park. Existing play equipment (swings, slides, climbers, timber edging etc.) in the park will be removed and new playground equipment which meets current Canadian safety standards will be installed as soon as possible after the removals.

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Council of Canadians Reaches a Conclusion

September 19th, 2008

The Council of Canadians is Canada’s largest citizens’ organization, with members and chapters across the country. The general public has an expectation that an organisation of this calibre will present well thought out and researched opinion on matters of public policy.

Unfortunately I believe that this is not the case in regards to a recent email they sent out to the newspapers regarding the proposed Hydro Merger.

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Hydro Q&A

September 12th, 2008

I spent 10 hours over Labour Day weekend combing through the hydro merger business case. To be honest I was specifically looking for reasons NOT to support the recommendation. I read the business plan looking for details / or the lack of details that would support my basic personal bias that smaller is better.

The business case is about two and a half inches thick, not including the legal agreements and appendices. After combing through the plan I had come up with about 30 questions.

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Margaret Greene Park Improvements

August 27th, 2008

Many of you may have noticed construction equipment in Margaret Greene Park recently.

New playground equipment which meets current Canadian safety standards will be installed at a new location within the park, closer to the washroom building and the existing play equipment (swings, slides, climbers, etc.) will be removed at a later date. Additional plantings, pathways and parking will also be installed.

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Who says it’s a thankless job?

August 4th, 2008

It was so nice to get this email I just wanted to share it with you.

Mr. Salisbury,

I want to thank you for your help with my request for assistance in recognizing our Novice girls fastball team representing Guelph at the Quebec nationals.

I have heard from the Mayor’s office today and have they have offered assistance.

I was pleasantly surprised with your calls today and the efforts you took upon yourself which resulted in quick involvement of the Mayor’s office.

This is the second time I have sought you out, and in both instances your help was invaluable.

Once again, thank you.

Robb Graham 

Citizen Satisfaction Survey

July 21st, 2008

The 2008 City of Guelph Citizen Satisfaction Survey, conducted by Ipsos Reid Public Affairs is being presented at the July 28th council meeting and the results are very informative.

This type of communication is vital to the democratic process, in fact I think it is so important that I have established the “Ward 4 Survey” an online questionnaire based upon the original Ipsos Reid survey. I would like to encourage everyone to take out a couple of minutes and share your thoughts and opinions.

It will take only a couple of minutes to fill out, but will greatly improve my ability to represent your needs and priorities. Your participation and comments (both positive and critical) are requested and encouraged.

Too Important to Miss!

July 7th, 2008

I recently received an email indicating that Rogers Cable television would be unable to televise City of Guelph council meetings in the month of July due to staffing shortages. Unfortunately there are several very significant issues coming before council in July.

While I can’t guarantee anything can be done to ensure that Guelph residents won’t be left in the dark, I made a call to Jeremy Clark, Regional Station Manager at Rogers Television and Dave Carswell at CTV to ensure that they were aware of the issues we are debating in July. Read the rest of this page »

New Transit Signs

June 25th, 2008

With the implementation of 20-minute bus service this summer, the City of Guelph will be posting fixed transit schedules with much more user information for riders.

(please note that this is only sample and that the route information is not accurate)

Transit Signs

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Blue Bags – The Holy Grail of Recycling

May 20th, 2008

Earlier this month I joined six other city councillors to spend the morning working with our staff at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) sorting Guelph’s garbage. What an eye opening experience it was!

The idea was originally conceived as an opportunity to provide a show of support for our hard working employees at the MRF, however the experience also gave us all first hand knowledge and understanding of some of the issues we face in improving our waste diversion targets for the City.

At the beginning of the shift we were teamed up with a buddy, an experienced employee we would work beside to learn the ropes. My buddy was fantastic, he not only showed me how to do the work but he shared with me his values and philosophies about waste and recycling.

I’m not sure I expected deep philosophical discussions working along the garbage line, however – I quickly found out that a lot of my initial expectations were misguided.

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On Losing an Advocate for Transit

March 28th, 2008

We have an alignment of the stars above Guelph when it comes to public transit.

  1. This City council is one of the most transit friendly councils we have seen in a great many years.
  2. Both the federal and provincial governments see public transit as a top priority.
  3. The general population is beginning to see alternative transportation as one possible solution to the problem of global warming
  4. The City of Guelph has reached a critical point where old transit solutions are not serving the needs of our community.

It was under these conditions that the transit ad-hoc committee was formed “To provide input on neighbourhood and community transit issues, improving system capacity, ridership growth, service quality and customer satisfaction” As an outspoken critic in support of improving our current transit services I was asked to chair the committee.

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What is a pecuniary interest?

February 21st, 2008

We hear it at the beginning of every council meeting. “Are there any statements of a pecuniary interest?” But how many people really know the significance of this simple question?

The prime responsibility of elected officials is to act in the public interest. If a Council member has a pecuniary interest, it is possible that they will be influenced by it when contributing to debate, voting or performing other duties as a member of Council. Potentially a councillor could act to promote their own private interests, rather than the public good. Not only is this unethical…it is illegal.

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Top Priorities for Guelph

February 11th, 2008

Following an extensive public strategic planning process, City Council and staff engaged in a priority setting exercise to determine exactly where our efforts should be focused. Our top priorities are listed below

  • Organics Facility
  • Community Energy Plan
  • Growth Management Plan
  • 20 minute transit service
  • York District Lands
  • Downtown Action Plan
  • Waste Management Plan
  • Urban Forest Strategy
  • City/County service agreements

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Second guessing…or 2nd opinion?

December 20th, 2007

A number of years ago my father and I sat at the kitchen table deep in thought. We had come to an impasse with the design of a piece of equipment we were developing. For months we had tried different alternatives, each one falling short of achieving our objective.

And so we sat there, staring at our prototype on the kitchen table.

My mother walked up and having no involvement in the project whatsoever took one look and said, “Why don’t you try….” and with that one naive comment she had solved the problem. I learned a very important lesson that day and it was perhaps because of that experience that I rejected a million-dollar proposal to solve our glass recycling system.

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Are we Losing Guelph Hydro?

November 2nd, 2007

I have received a number of emails regarding the rumors surrounding Guelph Hydro fueled in part by some of the misleading editorials written by outspoken critics of the current Guelph City Council.

Gerry Barker recently wrote one of most ludicrous, misleading and inflammatory editorials that I have ever read on the issue which was echoed again by David Birtwistle (who as a reasonably intelligent person probably knows better but thought he would stir the pot anyways) a few weeks later.

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Two cents on $400 million

October 2nd, 2007

I recently attended the Making Cities Liveable conference in Portland. When I arrived at the airport I had a choice between a $40 + cab fare to my downtown hotel or taking the light rail rapid transit which conveniently stopped right in the airport terminal.  My direct commute to downtown Portland took only minutes, brought me to within one block of my hotel and cost me less than five bucks. For the rest of my stay I took transit anywhere I wanted to go in the downtown absolutely FREE, no charge, zero dollars…nothing.

City of Portland is one of the most progressive urban environments in North America. The entire city is serviced by a system of light rail and transit so effectively that there is a noticeable absence of cars in the downtown core. With a population of just over 500 thousand people in the City of Portland the question on everyone’s mind was, “How can they afford this

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Transit Improvements

August 10th, 2007

Transit Services recently announced the need to change from our existing 30 minute service during peak times to a 40 minute service. The change is more an admittance of the reality of our current situation rather than a policy change, nevertheless it appears that at the very point when the most people need public transit we are not able to accommodate them very effectively.

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The Power of One

August 8th, 2007

As many of you are aware, City Council, senior city staff and the community at large have been involved in refining our community strategic plan. Given the number of business ventures I have been involved in, I am a big fan of strategic planning. As far as I am concerned it is the equivalent of pulling out a road map at the beginning of a journey. (Whether the trip is long or short we really need to know where we are going)

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Guelph Dolime public comment

August 6th, 2007

The public has until August 13 to comment on the application by River Valley Developments Inc. to change a licence condition that would allow it to extract twice as much limestone from the former Guelph Dolime site west of the Hanlon Expressway.

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Goodbye Dawn

August 1st, 2007

At some point we need to talk about what to do to make things better. Today is not the day for that. Today I want to talk about Dawn Ling.

I knew the Lings… not well enough to know them by name, but if you live in the West end of Guelph you know the Lings as well. He is tall and slim, she was shorter and slower; together they walked everywhere and everywhere they walked together.

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The Councillor Questionnaire is up and running!

July 30th, 2007

This short questionnaire is designed to take the pulse of the community on whether the City of Guelph is ready to graduate to full time City Councillors.Should we have 12 part time… or 6 full time councillors? or something else all together? – speak your mind on the issue.

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June 28th, 2007

A quick look at the date of my last blog entry shows that it has been almost a whole month since the last time I have added commentary to this site.

It’s not that I haven’t had a number of really great topics to write about; because there have been many interesting and provocative issues that have come up over the last few weeks…so why have I not posted more.

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A Job Well Done !

June 12th, 2007

Going door to door during my campaign in November I heard stories from people who were absolutely impressed with the service they received from City staff. I recently received yet another report of a job well done by our city staff.

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