Council votes in favour of alternative site layout for Baker District redevelopment
Guelph, Ont., October 7, 2020 – City Council has voted tonight in favour of moving two city-building projects forward that will see Guelph’s historic downtown get a new central library and the south end its first community centre.
Council voted 8 to 5 in favour of the Baker District alternative option, 8 to 5 in favour of the construction of an 88,000-square-foot library, and 12 to 1 in support of the new South End Community Centre.
“Investing in Baker District and the South End Community Centre is about building our future and responding to Guelph’s growing and changing social, economic and environmental needs,” says Scott Stewart, chief administrative officer for the City. “Tonight’s decisions position our city to be future ready. That is—building strong, vibrant, safe and healthy communities that foster resilience in the people who live here.”
The Baker District is expected to create a renewed area of activity, commerce and civic space for the local community and city. Anchored by a new central Guelph Public Library at the south end of the site, the district, bordered by Baker Street, Chapel Lane and Wyndham Street North, features outdoor urban squares, residential units, commercial and institutional space, and public parking. The district is being developed as a One Planet Living community—reducing the impact of the way people live, build, and consume.
“As a landmark city-building initiative, the Baker District redevelopment further revitalizes our downtown and—by extension—improves our entire city’s economic and social prosperity,” Kealy Dedman, deputy CAO Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Services. “This means more people living downtown and contributing to the City’s tax base to fund municipal programs and services; more jobs due to an increase in demand for retail and commercial services; an increase in retail spending for current and new businesses; and more people visiting and learning downtown—contributing to a vibrant and healthy downtown.”
The project also contributes to Guelph’s growth target: a population of 203,000 people and an employment base of 116,000 jobs by 2051. The City’s Official Plan earmarks Guelph’s downtown to achieve a density target of 150 people and jobs combined per hectare by 2031, and to be a focus for high density employment, residential development, public infrastructure and services, and multimodal transportation.
In Guelph’s fast-growing south end, the area will soon be home to a new multi-use community centre, which was identified in a 2014 detailed recreation facility needs assessment and feasibility study as an amenity that would improve access to recreational and municipal services in an underserviced area of the city.
“Connected, resilient and healthy communities depend on community spaces that promote recreation and social gathering. The South End Community Centre supports that need and also addresses immediate and future recreation demand and gaps throughout the city,” says Colleen Clack-Bush, deputy CAO Public Services.
The community centre, featuring a twin pad arena, an aquatic complex, double gym, multi-use program and meeting room spaces, and an indoor walking track and warm-up area, will be built on existing City-owned lands immediately south of Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School on Poppy Drive.
The facility’s green initiatives, which align with the City’s Community Net Zero Carbon and Corporate 100% Renewable Energy (100RE) goals, will result in 62 per cent energy savings and 85 per cent savings in greenhouse gas emissions. Through an energy-conservation-first approach and incorporating renewable energy generation, this takes the City one step closer to achieving its goal of 100 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2050.
It’s estimated it will cost $80 million to build the new 165,000-square-foot community centre, with 85 per cent covered by development charges and the balance funded through taxes.
Capital costs for Baker District are estimated to be between $84.2 million and $89.2 million, including up to $62 million for the library. The capital costs will be funded within the City’s current base capital funding for infrastructure renewal, contaminated sites, and growth. However, the library service enhancement component of $19.7 million will be funded by a tax levy of up to 0.39 per cent to be phased in over three years, starting in 2021 and remaining in place for 21 years.
With Council’s approval in place, the City will work with Windmill Development Group to revise the Urban Design Master Plan and update the library design for the stand-alone building in Baker District. Both will be shared as a virtual presentation with the community to outline the changes and collect final comments for Council’s consideration.
Construction on both projects begins in 2022. The South End Community Centre is expected to open in fall 2024 and Baker District by 2025.
For South End Community Centre
Antti Vilkko, General Manager
Facilities and Energy Management
519-822-1260 extension 2490
For Baker District
Project Manager, Special Projects
Economic Development and Tourism
519-822-1260 extension 3622