Council had the chance to open up a new source of funding for parkland, but delayed, leaving millions of dollars on the table.
The source? The parkland dedication bylaw, which allows Guelph to collect land (or cash in lieu of land) from developers of new housing projects. City staff have recognized that the city is “not collecting enough parkland to meet Guelph’s provision targets” — but we delayed updating the bylaw.
We found out through a Freedom of Information request that the bylaw, which was set to come before Council in June, was mysteriously delayed. E-mails obtained through that request show an unexplained delay that happened some time between May 3rd, the official end of the commenting period, and May 18th.
On May 18th, city staff were advising developers (and only developers) that the bylaw had been delayed and wouldn’t come before Council until the new year. (As of October 9, the city’s website still hasn’t been updated to reflect the delay, and gives a timeline of summer 2018 to come forward to Council!) Then, city staff set up private meetings with only developers, outside of public view.
Council had the chance to start funding parks properly and failed. You’re already paying for the parks when you buy a new home, but that money is staying in developers’ pockets to pad their bottom line..
Add it all up, and what do we have? Not enough parks. A severely underfunded parks reserve. And a city and council that works for developers and not for the people.