CONCERNING THE CITY OF GUELPH MYB 2024-2027
November 15 Delegation to council
Mayor, Councilors, Staff, Guelph Tax Payers and fellow delegates,
My name is John Fisher, President of the Guelph Hiking Trail Club, and a council approved member of the Tourism Committee. I represent the voices of over 450 club members, community organizations, businesses and taxpayers who want the G2G Guelph Trailway to be completed.
However, I am not here asking for a piece of the property tax pie. We are not asking for money.
In fact we are offering to help council achieve their key strategic objectives, their approved master plans, improve their regional and governmental relationships and generate revenue for businesses at no cost to taxpayers. We want to simplify the difficult, deserving fiscal choices council are being asked to consider tonight.
The current city plan for the #1 City Building Trail Project known as Trans Canada Trail North is not to build it. The justification for the “No Build Plan”, Guelph for Guelph, complexity, cost, uncertainty, don’t resonate with passionate trail users who find that decision shortsighted and unacceptable.
The Guelph community has a history of financially supporting and volunteering to support amenities they feel strongly about. Recent outdoor recreational examples include Guelph Lake and Arkell mountain bike parks, the Gosling and Crane Park bridges, Guelph Lake Rotary Trail, and Guelph Hiking Trail Club recreational trails. They were all funded and are managed by people who value those amenities, but they are available to every citizen to use and enjoy.
And so, we are asking council to direct staff to let the community spearhead the G2G Trailway project.
Specifically we are asking that this project be designated as a “community led, city supported” project, a category identified in the council approved 2021 Trails Master Plan. Give the community permission to demonstrate G2G’s importance by letting them lead, manage, and fund the G2G Trailway project with city support.
There is precedent for this. At the 2021 Trails Master Plan council meetings, council directed staff to accelerate the Hanlon Underpass to Imperial Rd trail connections. Six months later the Parks dept recommended to council that the Guelph Hiking Trail Club, would be the best choice to provide an interim solution. The Club has since installed an improved recreational trail under the Hanlon and side trails to Imperial and Fife Rd. The local community is gradually learning about this trail and increasing its use.
If you grant us permission to lead the community in a city supported Trans Canada trail North initiative, we commit to an Open and Transparent process that would inform council and staff and with regular informational updates of the project. We would also be respectful of staff time. We are very conscious of the narrow lens we bring to this project compared to the myriad projects and responsibilities of city staff. Our laser focus on this one project is why we will be successful.
We are all familiar with the quote attributed to Thomas Paine,
LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY
The Multi Year budget process has already informed trail users and businesses that the city does not want to lead this project. Pragmatic trail users don’t want the city to get out of the way, we need your support. So please, follow the community’s leadership and allow the Trans Canada Trail North project, be Community Led and together we will celebrate a new G2G-Guelph Trailway by 2027.
President Guelph Hiking Trail Club