Building relationships delivering results in the downtown.

September 10, 2012

Blog

When your quality of life is being immediately impacted, it is easy to want the “book” thrown at the culprit(s). I get that.  I have felt that way too.  And in some cases this is the right response.

However, over and over again, it is being demonstrated (and not just in Guelph) that the more effective and cost-effective approach to the challenges of urban living is community-based – one that works to build trust and respect between different stakeholders so that they can work together on identifying creative and sustainable solutions.

That is what is happening in the downtown and I am sincerely thankful for the hard work of the members of the Downtown Nightlife Task Force who have been doing the heavy lifting and thinking over the last several years.  Rather than complain, they are stepping up to make a difference and the positive results are showing. 

Our downtown is alive 18 hours a day and that is a great thing for our community.

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About Karen Farbridge

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

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11 Comments on “Building relationships delivering results in the downtown.”

  1. Jay Says:

    I find the term ”community-based” an interesting choice. To me, a community consists of people who live in a place twelve months a year and make some kind of contribution to said place, be it monetary (taxes) or otherwise. When I heard about the plans to GIVE downtown to the students for three nights a week from 11pm to 4am, I simply shook my head and thought here we go again sending a message to the kids that we can’t effectively fight them, so we will work harder to accomodate them. The whole thing is quite embarassing.

  2. kfarbridge Says:

    I was using the term “community-based” in the context of the many stakeholders that have come together to address behavioural concerns – police, by-law enforcement, bar owners, Downtown Guelph Business Association, University of Guelph and others. There is no question there are some behavioural problems – not everyone but it only takes a few. The approach this year, led by our Guelph Police Services, has reduced negative behaviour.

    However, I do disagree with you about the contribution of students. Seventy percent of University of Guelph students volunteer on campus and in the community. I often attend an event called Project Serve where hundreds of students head off to volunteer in community organization around the city. They spend money in our retail and grocery stores. They contribute to taxes through their rents when living off campus. Every student, whether they use the service or not, financially supports the transit system.

    I take a different approach when I meet with hundreds of students at the beginning of the term than what you may be suggesting. I welcome them to our city. Whether they are planning to stay only a short period of time or establish roots in the community, I encourage them to feel this is their home and to feel part of the community. I find a subsequent message of showing respect for their neighbours resonates more strongly when they feel welcome.

    Karen Farbridge

  3. Mark MacDonald Says:

    I witnessed a near riot scene once on Carden Street. I had to ask myself, this is not Guelph? Stop pandering to the students Karen!

  4. Patrick Kubicki Says:

    Dear Mayor,
    Do you ever get south of the University,you should.
    I have never seen students volunteering down in these parts.
    They sure could be used picking up red plastic beer cups,garbage and of course my
    favorite broken beer and booze bottles on our sideways and streets every weekend.
    But as long as your end of the world is fine then the little hamlet of Guelph is okay.
    I wounder how much the south end contributes to Guelph’s tax total?
    Probably not enough,I would love to pay more so I can have the same security and peace of mind that the rest of the citizens seem to enjoy who don’t live in the south end but feel they know what’s best for us.

  5. kfarbridge Says:

    There are many people working to reduce the kind of negative experiences described in these posts.

    They are being successful. However, I get it – that is hardly heart warming when this is not your experience.

    The University is part of our community. Young people are part of our community. University students are part of our community.

    Enforcement alone (very costly) is not the whole solution but clearly part of it and our Guelph Police Service takes their responsibility to ensure order in our community very seriously.

    Writers may be interested in the proposed Nuisance By-law – please provide your input. This by-law is being proposed to give By-law Enforcement Officers and the Guelph Police Service stronger tools to respond to residents that continue to experience unacceptable impacts on the peace and tranquility of their neighbourhoods.
    A link to the proposed by-law can be found in this news release: http://guelph.ca/newsroom_display.cfm?itemID=81492

    Karen Farbridge
    Mayor

  6. Patrick Kubicki Says:

    I’m all for a new tool,ie.nuisance bylaw,however what has and is happening is that the current bylaws and laws are not being enforced.How many warnings before a ticket or charge is laid. Give me a number .My guess would be seven but by then the school year is over and the criminals have moved out and it starts all over again in the new year.
    So unless somebody actually enforces the new law,what’s the point,
    I guess everybody at city hall can pat themselves on the back on a job well done for passing a bylaw that will never be enforced.
    Makes for a good photo opp thats about it.

  7. Love Guelph Says:

    All great comments and I agree with much of what your saying Patrick and Mark, however we do need to realize that the University of Guelph is one of the top employers in Guelph and most of us use the free amenities available there. As well we have what 18,000 students who come to Guelph and spend money? What concentrated demographic spends that kind of money every year???? Guelph isn’t the only city that has these kind of challenges with students and those challenges are not going to go away any time soon with the way we have brought our kids period! I went to school here and can remember many of night where I mis-behaved downtown. However, I loved Guelph and stayed and now have a family and thriving business and would never leave. Some things we should consider – the University did away with most drinking establishments in the 90s and left the onus on the city so blame them for much of this. As well, although not perfect the city and the downtown business association has been trying to address the problem for several years. With the development of businesses and mixed residential downtown will change the cosmetics.
    As for the comments about “They sure could be used picking up red plastic beer cups,garbage and of course my
    favorite broken beer and booze bottles on our sideways and streets every weekend.
    But as long as your end of the world is fine then the little hamlet of Guelph is okay” Umm I live near JF Ross (Guelphites) and witness garbage like this all the timer and also pay taxes and btw – visit the South End almost daily. I agree there is an issue with garbage but it goes way beyond University students and living in the South End. Until we as a society frown upon this it will not change.

  8. guelphites Says:

    All great comments and I agree with much of what your saying Patrick and Mark, however we do need to realize that the University of Guelph is one of the top employers in Guelph and most of us use the free amenities available there.
    As well we have what 18,000 students who come to Guelph and spend money? What concentrated demographic spends that kind of money every year???? Guelph isn’t the only city that has these kind of challenges with students and those challenges are not going to go away any time soon with the way we have brought up our kids period!
    I went to school here and can remember many of night where I mis-behaved downtown. However, I loved Guelph and stayed and now have a family and thriving business and would never leave.
    Some things we should consider – the University did away with most drinking establishments in the 90s and left the onus on the city so blame them for much of this. As well, although not perfect the city and the downtown business association has been trying to address the problem for several years. With the development of businesses and mixed residential downtown will change the cosmetics.
    As for the comments about “They sure could be used picking up red plastic beer cups,garbage and of course my favorite broken beer and booze bottles on our sideways and streets every weekend But as long as your end of the world is fine then the little hamlet of Guelph is okay”
    Umm I live near JF Ross (Guelphites) and witness garbage like this all the timer and also pay taxes and btw – visit the South End almost daily. I agree there is an issue with garbage but it goes way beyond University students and living in the South End. Until we as a society frown upon this it will not change.

  9. Samantha Says:

    It is hard to embrace the positives of having the University of Guelph and its students, when your personal quality of life, privacy, and enjoyment of living, has been seriously downgraded. I am glad that someone is profiting!
    I would happily share my street with any numbers of students if my own rights were respected. I pay these consequences – ie – broken glass underfoot, garbage, public drunkeness, public urination, noise, shouted random obsenities, parking on lawns, paving over lawns, etc. I would be much more tolerant of a party if the children would clean up their mess afterwards and not expect the grown ups to always do it for them. The south end has become a ver bad place to be. I would not recommend it as a place to live.
    I am happy that the students are contributing to fund raisers, perhaps it eases the guilt of the ones who trash their neighbourhoods. It would be nice if they could get the message that environmental concern and charity do indeed begin at home. It would be nice if the absentee owners who profit off putting so many students in their houses, and so many cars on their lawns, would pay for the clean up that we the taxpayers end up paying for.

  10. Samantha Says:

    I would like to commend the fast action of City of Guelph city works employees, who cleaned up some broken glass on the sidewalk of my street today, within hours of my complaint. I know that it must be overwhelming to the staff to keep up with trying to clean up these south end streets after a party weekend, but I do appreciate their efforts very much.

  11. Masoud Says:

    Hello everyone,
    I came to Guelph last year when my job brought me here! As I worked in downtown and passed through it in early mornings, I noticed this was one of the dirtiest places I had seen (I have seen and lived in many cities across Middle East, Europe, and Ontario). Food spills, litters, broken glasses, bottles etc. were abundant in downtown streets in early mornings, usually every Monday morning.
    But I also noticed the city is developing fast and many improving projects are underway in the city; new bus terminal, new city hall with nice landmarks, Market square and street probably amongst many more successful projects underway. As weeks passed by I started seeing the clean streets and city clean-up workers at work. Then the first thing with all these positive changes crossed my mind was who the Mayor was?
    And here I am writing these blogs to tank our great mayor Karen, since I understand these changes are not coming through easily, especially in more traditional and smaller cities. And I cannot agree more in the student issue with the mayor that students and university students are one important part of the city (one of the main city street, Gordon possess right through the university!! amazing) and if we have to change the downtown problem we have to work together and treat this as a social problem which requires great time and efforts to be addressed and solved.

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