Guelph Innovation District will be key to city’s future
The City of Guelph has launched Phase 3 of its planning process for the York District lands, located southeast of the downtown.
This Phase is intended to establish objectives and principles for the development of the lands, refine the range of uses, develop visual design concepts, and establish planning implementation tools for the area. These tools will include Official Plan policies, land use designations, and Community Energy Plan implementation opportunities, among others.
The York lands are significant due to their sheer size, at 426 hectares (1,052 acres). This is close to the total current employment land inventory elsewhere in the city, which totals 433 hectares. The lands, which are located within Guelph’s urban boundary, also have natural and cultural significance. One of the City’s most valued and treasured natural assets, the Eramosa River, flows through the lands.
Mayor Karen Farbridge explained, “When you look at five key priorities for this term of Council, you realize that they are tied in various ways to this piece of property. First, the lands will be vital to our growth management strategy and to meeting Places to Grow requirements. Second, they offer a tremendous opportunity to provide employment lands for our growing economy. Third, our Waste Resource Innovation Centre happens to be located on this property, so it will be important for the future of our organics facility. Fourth, the lands offer our best opportunity to meet our Community Energy Plan targets through integrated energy planning. And finally, the lands are important for building partnerships, because those with interests in the land include the provincial government, University of Guelph, and private companies.”
In the first two Phases of the York District planning process, the City completed background work and established an employment focus as the preferred option for the lands. The City paused before proceeding with Phase 3 in order to give the provincial government, the majority landowner on the site, time to prepare a development strategy.
The Province retained a consultant to conduct community consultation and prepare a proposed development strategy. When the consultant’s report is completed and released, it will form an important piece of input into Phase 3 of the planning process. The City will engage the Province as an active participant in Phase 3.
The Phase 3 process will include public consultation through working groups, facilitated sessions, a charette exercise, and public open houses. Visual design concepts will be developed for each area of the site, and an overall concept will be created to form the basis of land use and Official Plan policies. Details of the public consultation sessions are currently being finalized and will be announced shortly.
“I like to call this area the “Guelph Innovation District” to reflect the tremendous opportunity the lands present for innovation and progress in our community,” said Mayor Farbridge. “If we get these lands right, we will take a great leap forward in securing our future.”