Bob Bell

keeping you informed in Ward One

Current Ward Issues

Reformatory and Turfgrass Issue

What do you think?


The Reformatory/Turfgrass lands have finished the Secondary Plan phase of the development process. The Province still owns all the land and the city has expressed an interest in participatinng in the development of the land. With the recent change in the government of the province the immediate future is uncertain. The unkept roadscape along York is entirely on the lands owned by the "Province of Ontario". It is their responsibilty. The total property has five sections, two of which are parklands. The two parkland pieces consist of the property fronting on York Rd. with the two ponds and the second is along the Eramosa River by the railway tracks. The province does not appear to be interested in the the stewardship of these parklands and therefore they should relinqish ownship to the city or a not for profit conservancy at the earliest possible date. I will work to move the parkland restoration quickly in the next term of council.

Newspaper Articles

"May 14, 2014 Council approves Guelph Innovation District secondary plan

"Jun 25, 2014 OMB appeal filed over Guelph Innovation District plan

May 04, 2014 Council to see the latest plan for Guelph Innovation District lands

GUELPH (Feb.8, 2008)Guelph Mercury

This could take awhile.

It will likely be 10 to 20 years before the Guelph Innovation District, also known as the York District Lands, sees major development. But the city of Guelph wants to keep the idea of transforming the vast tract of land in the community’s east side in the minds of residents. Seen as integral to Guelph’s future growth plans and economic evolution, the district’s potential continues to be studied. The public is invited to an information session on the concept tonight, 6 p.m. at Civic Square, committee room C. Ward 1 councilor Kathleen Farrelly said plans for the district are nascent and extend many years into the future. Crafting a comprehensive plan for the over 450 hectares (1,000 acres) of land is challenging because it requires speculation on things like economic trends and population growth projections, she indicated. “I’m thoroughly enthused about all the plans,” said Farrelly, “because I would like to see a mix of live, work and play there. The lands can be enhanced and can be used in their natural state in some cases. I hope we can encourage the right kinds of businesses that would work in that area.” Fellow Ward 1 councilor Bob Bell said the primary focus of the land should be business development. He favours zoning areas with a “majestic views” of Eramosa River valley for business, so that things like corporate headquarters locate there. The city must do all it can to attract new business and the beauty of the York District Lands is the best location the city has to offer, he said. The city began formally studying development of the York District Lands back in 2005. The lands are bordered by York Road and Stone Road at the top and bottom, and by Victoria Road South and Watson Road South along the sides. Just 99 hectares of the land is owned by the city, while the province owns about 233 hectares and Cargill Better Beef own about 122 hectares. City planners envision a kind of urban village on the property, with residential space for 3,000 to 5,000 people, and economic development capable of creating 8,000 to 10,000 jobs. While embryonic, the plan favours “new economy” types of enterprises, including agri-technology and bio-science, alternative energy and advanced manufacturing businesses, in combination with some institutional uses such as university, college and health care facilities. Pedestrian-oriented medium to high density residential developments have been incorporated into early plans. What is likely is that elements of the Provincial Correctional Centre complex and its surrounding landscape will be preserved when development takes place. Following 2007 studies, the province identified a number of heritage elements on the property, including 13 buildings and the associated landscape.

“That is a very important piece of land out there, and we can’t let it just sit, or be used in a way that would be detrimental to the city,” Farrelly added.


Guelph Mercury Dec12, 2006

Scott Tracy

GUELPH (Dec 18, 2006)

The province is inviting an Ontario Municipal Board battle if it promotes land in Guelph's east end for residential development in an effort to wrench up its value, a city councillor believes.Ward 5 Councillor Leanne Piper noted the city has already said, through the exhaustive York District Land Use study, it wants to see the former Guelph Correctional Centre property used as employment lands.However in the legislature last week, Halton MPP Ted Chudleigh alleged the provincial government is planning to close the adjacent Guelph Turfgrass Institute "in order to sell the land to sweeten a real estate deal to a local developer." In a press release issued later that day he said selling the land for houses ignores its value for research.Agriculture Minister Leona Dombrowsky did not dispute Chudleigh's allegation, saying only that "no final decisions have been made" about what to do with the 150-acre turfgrass institute property on Victoria Road."I have a lot of concerns with that possibility," Piper said on the weekend. "It's all about money and short-term gain."Piper is sure the province would like to sell the GCC property, and perhaps the adjacent turfgrass institute lands, for residential development because the property is worth more that way."I've always felt the province and the city need to work together to do what's in the best interest of the community, and not what's in the best interest of the provincial coffers," Piper said. "The province wants to be able to maximize revenues from the land. They're looking completely at the value of the land, but the long-term value to the city is being forgotten."But she said if the province persists in an effort to have the land rezoned for residential development, despite the city's wishes, "it's just setting up an OMB (Ontario Municipal Board) appeal."Ward 1 Coun. Bob Bell is also unhappy with the province's rumoured intentions for the lands."I think the city should have a say, if the lands are sold, in what the end use is to be," Bell said. "I don't think it's a good idea for the province to be doing our zoning for us."How's the province going to get around the city if the city just determines it's not going to be residential?"Lise Burcher, who also represents Ward 5, said while she is aware the province has talked about selling the reformatory lands, Chudleigh's suggestion the turfgrass property could also go on the block "came as a real shock."Burcher called the provincially owned lands "a tremendous resource within our boundaries," and said she would strongly oppose proposals to turn them into subdivisions."I certainly would see residential (development) as a very narrow-view scenario," she said. "We can put houses anywhere."I would think there are far better opportunities we could pursue in terms of employment lands . . . or institutional sorts of uses," Burcher said.

Bell noted the land's proximity to nearby abattoirs and the city's wet-dry plant, as well as wetlands on the jail property, likely makes them unsuitable for houses.Instead, he suggested the properties could be ideal for institutional or light industrial uses such as financial institutions or high-tech manufacturing."It's one of the most unique large properties we have in the Guelph area," Bell said, noting the city should consider buying it from the province. "We need that bait if we're going to catch a big fish."





The Guelph Reformatory