Discussing the developing image of the Royal City with Mayor Cam Guthrie
As Guelph continues to garner accolades for its low unemployment rate, investing potential, and the quality of the real estate market, there has been rapid expansion and development within the city.
In an interview with The Ontarion, Mayor Guthrie discussed the challenges and opportunities regarding Guelph’s future as the city continues to grow.
“With that in mind, there’s a lot to celebrate, but at the same time, there’s also some issues that come with that,” said Mayor Guthrie
Guelph is one of the cities outlined in the Places To Grow Act (PTGA), which was introduced in 2005 by the Ontario government to bolster growth in cities across the province. A full plan released the following year outlining growth targets for individual cities.
“By 2031, the province wants Guelph to be at 175,000 people and we are currently at 132,000 now. By 2041, they want us to be at 191,000,” explained the Mayor.
South end expansion
Even as Guelph continues to grow, one of the greater influences is its relative proximity to Toronto. As housing prices continue to rise at a meteoric rate, with the average house price sitting at $916,567, according to an article published by The Toronto Star, the housing bubble has caused prices to rise in Guelph.
For Mayor Guthrie, the goal is to help out Guelph homeowners and those looking to purchase a home without directly interfering in the free housing market. When strategizing on keeping housing affordable, the mayor said there is not a single simple solution.
One of the unique challenges for Guelph is that, currently, there are only two primary pieces of developable land in the borders of the city. The York lands, where the old jail used to sit, is owned by the provincial government, which only leaves the area between Clair Road and Maltby Road, which acts as the southern border to the city proper.
The York lands, where the old jail used to sit, is owned by the provincial government, which only leaves the area between Clair Road and Maltby Road, which acts as the southern border to the city proper.
Outside of new developments in the south end, considerable development has also continued to occur in the downtown core.
“When I said to you we’re 132,000 people right now, by 2041, we want to be 190,000, our growth targets speak specifically to the downtown core, that we would like to see around 9,000 people of that new growth target amount be people living in the downtown,” Mayor Guthrie explained.
The downtown core is being developed through a specialized plan called the Downtown Secondary Plan.
Apart from being one of the cultural centres of Guelph, the downtown core also acts as the transportation hub for the rest of the city.
Once the fall semester begins, the City of Guelph is receiving a transit system overhaul, with existing routes being reconfigured to provide a more efficient system, according to an article from GuelphToday.
Outside of the city, however, greater transportation networks are being strategized to capitalize on Guelph’s position in the heart of the “innovation corridor,” in between Waterloo and Toronto.
Mayor Guthrie said that, by working with other mayors in neighbouring municipalities, a more efficient transportation network can be put in place to cut down on the travel time between Guelph, Toronto, and Waterloo.
“What we’re trying to accomplish is making sure that if someone wants to live in Guelph and they land a job in Toronto, I don’t want them sitting on the 401 for two hours each day,” he said.
One of the difficulties, as Mayor Guthrie explained during his Feb. 8 presentation to U of G’s Central Student Association, is that establishing a frequent GO Train schedule between Guelph Central Station and Union Station is difficult, because most of the train lines between Guelph and Toronto are operated primarily as freight lines, which adds an additional difficulty in transporting passengers between the two cities.
“If we could get our people moving between Toronto, Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge, we believe that will create huge economic prosperity for Ontario. That’s why we’re all working together to paint this picture for the provincial government that this is the way to go for moving skilled people back and forth between these different cities, but still giving them a choice on where they want to live,” said Mayor Guthrie.
As Guelph continues to grow, city council is continuously looking for feedback from the community on the state of the city.
Photo by Dana Bellamy/The Ontarion.