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LETTER: Time to be heard on defending our green space

Public consultations begin this week on the updated Parks and Recreation Master Plan and letter writer Susan Watson urges the public to get involved
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GuelphToday received the following letter from reader Susan Watson.

We have to draw lines in our city and defend them. Green space is one of those lines that must be drawn. It's for our quality of life. It's for our kids. If we don't draw the line, developers will cross it time after time. And Doug Ford will erase it altogether.

Now is the time. Here's why: 

  1. A comprehensive data analysis of our parkland inventory by former Ward 4 Council candidate Matt Saunders suggests that we actually have between 25% -40% less parkland than what the city reports. https://mattsaunders.ca/missing-parks

  2. The plan for one of the last major greenfield developments within the city boundaries – Clair-Maltby – doesn’t meet even the minimum requirements for parkland set out in our Official Plan.  

  3. There’s little indication that the downtown will meet even lower open space requirements of 1 ha/1000 residents by 2031.

  4. Land currently conveyed to the city through the development process only covers a portion of what is required by our Official Plan.  What that means is that if we are going to achieve parkland minimums, we need to pay for them, either through operating costs in renting parkland or capital costs for land that we buy.

We all know that money is tight at the city, and Doug Ford has just made it tighter through Bill 108, but we need to have this crucial public conversation.  Parks are critical infrastructure which require investment, just like we build water treatment and road capacity. Ample parks are key to physical and mental well-being and the environmental services they provide - cooling temperatures and filtering water - will be even more important as the effects of climate change intensify.

There’s an opportunity this week to make your views known to the city administration. The first public consultation phase for the update of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan is just getting under way.  An on-line survey for the initial round of public input is up on the city website until Thursday, July 4th:

https://www.haveyoursay.guelph.ca/parks-and-recreation-master-plan

It’s a feel-good survey about how much you use our parks and recreation facilities, but your input doesn’t need to be limited to the survey.  You can email City staff with your concerns:

Tiffany Hanna at tiffany.hanna@guelph.ca and Luke Jefferson at luke.jefferson@guelph.ca

Tell them we need a comprehensive, public and transparent parkland acquisition strategy which is fully funded. Tell them planning staff needs to respect the parkland minimums set out in our Official Plan.

If we leave the quality of our city to commercial interests and provincial politicians, we are guaranteed to lose it. Guaranteed. 

It’s a moral issue. If we don't draw the line, we lose it.

And no one wants to be a loser.



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