Hanlon Creek Business Park

I have received a number of e-mails and letters expressing concerns about the Hanlon Creek Business Park development, and in particular concerns about environmental impacts.

The history on this project stretches back to 1993.  Here is a letter I am sending to all those who have written to me, outlining the background of this development and the extensive environmental protections that are in place.

From the beginning, our goal has been to strike a balance between our community’s economic needs, our need under Places to Grow legislation to accommodate 31,000 new jobs within city boundaries (thus preventing sprawl onto farmland), and the need to protect our natural heritage.

PS: The Guelph Civic League is hosting a public meeting/ panel discussion on the Hanlon Creek Business Park on Thursday, March 26 at 7:00 p.m. at Norfolk St. United Church, 75 Norfolk St. (at Cork).

Update: Additional information can be found by clicking here.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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4 Comments on “Hanlon Creek Business Park”

  1. Tom Nicholls Says:

    Dear Karen,

    I am a Guelphite, 34 years and have seen a lot of change! For the most part negative. Many of my favourite trails and hiking areas are gone. Many are still here, but for how long? I constantly worry that soon the bulldozers will be moving in.

    I was so happy that my vote for you counted this time!
    I have to be honest with you though, i think you have changed. I see you leaning to the developers side more now on several issues. Maybe you want to keep everyone happy?

    So i ask: why do we propose building on an aquifer near a wetland? I know a lot of money has already been spent on assessments, and maybe you feel its too late to back out now. But do whats right fo Guelph and rethink this! There are more suitable spots to build.

    I have a 2 year old boy, and another child due in May, i plan to enjoy sharing the natural areas with them. Please don’t make it so we have to drive out of town to view natures beauty.

    I thought i would always want to live in Guelph, but lately my wife and i have been discussing other possibilities. Please help us with this decision.

    Thank you
    Tom Nicholls

  2. Mark Sohm Says:

    I recently attended the information session on the Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP) that took place Thursday, March 26th. I left feeling deeply concerned about this project and the City’s initiative here.

    The presentations delivered by city council seemed to focus more on economic growth and attracting businesses to City of Guelph than the HCBP itself. When asked direct questions regarding specific parts of the plan councilors often attempted to side step questions. Councilors also redirected inquiries to expert consultants hired by the city that often answered only half of the question or were unaware of answers. This makes me question whether or not the people making these critical decisions have carefully reviewed the studies available. There seems to be no lack of information. A list of 30 or more studies was shown at the session.

    Major concerns were presented regarding the feasibility of this type of development for this particular area. It was shown that this area is a major source of clean water for the city and that it is an ecologically significant area containing endangered species and trees over 600 years old. We were told that the project would be closely monitored to judge its impact. The problem I see here is that when a problem is found it will most likely too late to undo the damages done.

    The city justified this plan by saying we need a cost effective method to make land available in the near future to attract new business to Guelph to help offload the property tax burden placed on residents. The HCBP has been under design and review since 1993 and new studies of the area are under way. The estimated cost to the city to date was over 30 million dollars. This doesn’t seem like a cost effective solution or a wise use of our tax dollars especially considering possible future costs due to possible impact to our clean drinking water.

    It was suggested that the city look inwards to vacant land left behind by businesses that have left Guelph. The city reported that it was too complicated and costly to redevelop these existing industrial areas to make them attractive to new businesses. However, when asked the city also admitted that no studies have been done to determine such cost. I don’t think I’m being optimistic when I say that it should cost less than 30 million dollars and take less than 16 years to tear down an existing building.

    The HCBP seems like the classic case of a project that has snowballed out of control in terms of both cost and timelines. Requirements seem to have been developed without a complete understanding of the constraints involved. The easy thing for council to do is to rubber stamp this design, taking credit for finally getting development under way. I believe that the future ramifications of this project will overshadow the current investment.

    Cancelling at this point would probably leave the city with egg on its face after investing so much time and effort into this project. However, I believe that future generations will praise the person who stepped forward to put an end this project and protecting this irreplaceable component of our city. I know the decision my daughter would want us to make.

    Mark Sohm

  3. Kim Henderson Says:

    Dear mayor Farbridge and councilors,

    I have lived in Guelph longer than I have lived anywhere else, and my family is from here. I am one of a growing number of people who were once proud to call Guelph our home, but are rapidly becoming disillusioned with the direction you are taking this city.

    The most pertinent issue regarding the demise of our city as an environmental and social leader is the Hanlon Creek Business Park, and that is the subject of my letter.

    It is widely acknowledged that by far the ‘greenest’ building is one that is re-used, or built in an already developed area. Given that there are 175 brownfields, abundant ‘for lease’ and ‘for sale’ signs all over Guelph’s existing industrial areas, the Southgate Business Park set to come online, and an economy in decline, how can you justify building yet another industrial park? Especially one as large as 675 acres, that surrounds Guelph’s last old growth forest, a provincially significant wetland, will destroy the Paris Galt moraine on site, and open up our drinking water to risk of further contamination?

    I understand that there are not even any tenants signed on for the HCBP, yet you want to start construction this summer. I have read your form letter you send to people, and I have to say, it does not matter how many studies have been done on the site, it is never, never too late to turn around and give it another look.

    Further, the economic and ecological models used to justify the HCBP are just that – models. Models have proven time and again to not work, and there is simply no way, no matter how many ‘experts’ you have on your side, there is no way that you can guarantee a safe water supply, or a long-standing old growth forest.

    As someone who voted most of you in to power, and who will certainly work to prevent your re-election should the HCBP go in, I urge you to bring the HCBP back to council for another look and another vote.

    This issue has received more public outcry than near any other environmental issue in recent years. Your constituents are watching, and they do not want to see the bulldozers roll in for the HCBP.


    Kim Henderson

  4. Teddy Simpson Says:

    Trees over 600 years old?

    Endangered species?


    Possible contamination of our drinking water?

    What for?

    HI Karen, I don’t follow politics very much to be honest, local provincial or national, but I do understand that there are many forces all acting upon you and there must be a great deal of pressure on you.

    If you know anything about the current industrial growth model, you know that it is an unsustainable, self destructing system. We NEED to design, build, and operate things differently. Guelph COULD be a “green leader” for the region and country if we had the courage to say “You know what fellow humans? This doesn’t work anymore and we have to learn how to do things differently. If you want to build, and make ‘stuff’ to sell, go read some books, learn how to do it in a way that supports local and global ecology, not tramples and spews toxins all over it, come back with a new plan and we’ll talk.”

    I’m sure you wish it were that easy, but you have an amazing city here for you that will support and back you up on this. We have to hold off this destruction and preserve places like this old growth forest. That will make Guelph a much better place than a few temporary jobs would. We need green jobs, and environmentally intelligent development. This is a step in the wrong direction.

    “The future is here, it’s just not distributed yet.”
    – Worldchanging: A users guide for the 21st century

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