Delegation to City Council: Official Plan Amendment 80

Jul 14, 2022

On July 11, CEO Shakiba Shayani presented the following delegation to City Council re: the Official Plan Amendment 80. Please read the delegation below.


Good afternoon Mayor Guthrie, City Councillors, and staff. I am delegating on behalf of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce in support of Official Plan Amendment 80. 


We have met several times with City Staff and pertinent Chamber members over the last several months regarding OPA 80 to better understand the implications, and to inform where we can, this significant visioning document; one that aims to accommodate the next 30 years of provisions and growth for both residential and employment lands. As a reminder to all, Guelph is forecasted to grow by about 60,000 people and will add about 33,000 jobs over the next 30 years. 


We're glad to see that OPA 80’s Identified Strategic Growth areas are spread throughout the city and aim to create multi-modal accessible areas, micro-communities as it were, to serve local needs. 


It's apparent that the Downtown is a focal area for investment, employment, and residential uses. A downtown is the heart of the city and is usually a preferred location for major office and institutional uses which requires it to be a convenient, accessible, and activated area. We do benefit from a protected major transit station area that supports existing and future transit investment. With some additional visioning and attention, a complete downtown can propel economic prosperity for our city.  


Speaking of downtown, but also beyond, and although the OP does propose some increases, we would have wished for bolder density targets. I believe most of us tuned into Brent Toderian's presentation the other week where he reminded us that density is key to the financial viability of a city. Watson’s Financial Implication Memo to council in March noted that higher density growth will improve the overall cost effectiveness of City services. Toderian reminded us that density is inherently green as well. That our ambitious Transportation Masterplan modal shift goals require higher densities if we are to achieve them. He reminded us that we can have tall buildings without undermining natural heritage and other considerations such as the Basilica corridor, and that in fact, tall buildings are required as to not undermine the building’s design, a critical component of high-quality cities. We were reminded that we must keep up with infill housing; that Midrise and Gentle density can stabilize and facilitate complete neighbourhoods. I encourage the review of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s Missing Middle report’s recommendations.


As you'll always hear me say about masterplans and plans of this grandeur, the more significant exercises in city-building will be in the implementation and responsive updates of the OP over time. Along the way, be reminded of the ambitious vision that is outlined. Most notably, that this OP ensures “Our city has been thoughtfully designed and is compact, connected, and complete.” This wholistic perspective will be integral to the social and economic wellbeing of Guelph – let it assist Council and staff in the challenging task of prioritizing activities and budgeting accordingly. Let’s allow this OPA to help build the inclusive, connected, competitive city we know we can be.