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The Ward's Library of Things micro charity gets denied

'We are interested and committed to continuing to work with Mr. Drew to find a suitable solution,' says the city
Danny Drew, the founder of the Ward's Library of Things, stands where the City of Guelph denied the encroachment application.

The Ward’s Library of Things will not be returning to its former capacity having officially been denied an application for encroachment agreement.

Located outside the residence of 178 Alice St., the Ward’s Library of Things is a micro charitable effort in The Ward providing free items and homegrown food to the community which had grown in size, encroaching onto city lands.

Danny Drew, the founder of the Ward's Library of Things, said he was handed down the decision late last week after waiting for nearly five months.

The decision came after the City of Guelph ‘had a chance to complete its due diligence and discuss this matter with other City Departments.’

“In accordance with the City’s Encroachment By-law (2009)-18799 (“By-law”), and through its discussions with other City Departments, Realty Services has determined that a request of such a nature, namely a picnic table and patio umbrella for the purpose of distributing free goods and donated items, are not contemplated under the By-law and therefore an encroachment agreement is not permitted with respect to your request,” the decision reads.

In late December, a non-refundable application of nearly $200 was paid by a former community member who wanted to see the Library of Things return after City of Guelph bylaw officers threatened to ticket the effort resulting in the owners temporarily shutting it down.

Consisting of a picnic table and umbrella, the table was started by Drew after the passing of his father left several useful items now in his possession. 

The decision from the City of Guelph states the picnic table and patio umbrella must be removed from city lands, however, the organizers can relocate the picnic table and patio umbrella within the boundaries of their property.

They will then be required to follow the City of Guelph’s property standards by-law (2000)-16454 which states in part ‘every property shall be kept free of any object or condition that may create a health, fire, or accident hazard.’

A statement on the matter from Scott Green, manager of corporate and community safety operations at the City of Guelph reads: "We appreciate the efforts of Mr. Drew, the property owner, and the value and service that the Library of Things has provided to the local community. As a City, we are continuously inspired by grassroots initiatives like the Library of Things and other innovative community ideas. At the same time, we have a responsibility to maintain public safety and accessibility, including clear and safe sidewalks and sightlines. We strive to be a solution-oriented City and our team of bylaw officers always work to provide all available options to property owners when faced with bylaw-related challenges. In this instance, an application of encroachment was just one of the options presented. We are interested and committed to continuing to work with Mr. Drew to find a suitable solution."

The community rallied behind the charity with encouragement to not give up the charitable effort, with several people offering to pay the non-refundable application fee and the encroachment agreement fee - which at the time would have totalled nearly $500.

“There was one guy who used to live in the neighbourhood who just jumped on the opportunity to help out people in his old community. He was also, I guess, shocked. I'm really glad he reached out to me for the application fee at least, he also offered to pay for - had it been approved-  the encroachment agreement,” said Drew.

As for the next steps, Drew said he will be looking at storing the contents of the former Ward’s Library of Things in the back of his pickup truck with a sign offering the items in the bed of the truck up for free.

“I don’t know what they will think of it but we will see if bylaw gets in on it again. I’ll just put it in the back of my truck,” said Drew.

Despite that meaning far less room for the free items, Drew said it is one of the only viable options as moving the table to the backyard or right up against the house could prove unmanageable.