Guelph Could Lose Affordable Housing, 570+ Jobs and Large Development Projects
The stakes are high for Guelph’s future development, as certain industries and housing initiatives might withdraw if the city does not adhere to the provincial alterations to its official plan.
Guelph has been requested by the Ontario government to submit a letter by December 7th, detailing its position on Minister Paul Calandra’s decision to reverse provincial changes to municipalities’ official plans. Guelph is among the affected municipalities.
During a special council meeting on Tuesday, city staff’s four separate recommendations were voted on, resulting in a 9-4 approval.
Voting against: Ward 3 Councillor Phil Allt, Ward 5 Councillors Leanne Caron, Cathy Downer and ward 2 resident Erin Caton.
The original staff report suggested:
- Submitting Report 2023-459, with feedback in Attachment 1, to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing as City Council’s response to the modifications and proposed changes to Official Plan Amendment 80.
- Instructing staff to collaborate with the Ministry to maintain modifications related to conformity.
- Directing staff to estimate additional costs incurred due to the Provincial modifications to OPA 80 as of April 11, 2023, and any subsequent costs since the Provincial announcement on October 23, 2023, for submission to the Province.
- Mandating staff to convey comments from Report 2023-459 to the Ministry regarding ERO Posting 019-7885 and the Planning Statute Law Amendment Act.
However, amendments were made to the first and fourth recommendations following presentations from delegates.
David Falletta, a planner from Bousfields representing NewCold, warned that the company might reconsider its plan to open a cold storage and manufacturing facility at 384 Crawley Rd. in Guelph’s south end. Falletta expressed concern about potential delays and additional procedures if the Minister’s changes are reversed, suggesting NewCold might seek alternative locations.
This facility, with a projected size of 160,000 sq/m and providing 570 jobs, represents a billion-dollar investment.
Mayor Cam Guthrie, speaking virtually from a climate conference in Dubai, emphasized the critical nature of this decision, framing it as a test of the council’s commitment to fostering business and investment in Guelph.
Another potential departure is from Home Opportunities, a non-profit aiming to provide affordable homeownership. Mike Labbé, its president and CEO, expressed that they would definitely withdraw their project if they couldn’t adapt to the province’s changes to the official plan, which now designates 280 Clair Rd. W. for high-density residential use instead of industrial.
Mayor Guthrie assured that the letter to the province would be made public as soon as possible.