Updated July 8, 2008

Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph - RSD
Suite 100, 127 Wyndham St. N, Guelph, ON, N1H 4E9;
tel: 519 823-1188, fax: 519 823-0084

July 8 report.

Wal-Mart expansion turned down!

By a vote of 9-4 city council turned down the Wal-mart expansion last night. Those supporting it appeared more concerned about what might happen at the OMB and what it might cost rather than the merits of the application. The vote began with strong Nos from seasoned councillors Maggie Laidlaw and Lise Burcher followed by Nos from all the new councillors, each of which explained their reasoning for their vote. In large part, the lack of clear answers to questions from both staff and 6&7 seemed to be a factor here, as their credibility seemed to ebb with every dodged response.. The mayor, and Cllrs. Kovach, Billings and Wettstein supported it . Other than the five speakers from 6&7, no one spoke in support of the development. Lots spoke against.

June 16, 2008 report

Public meeting on Wal-Mart expansion set for July 7

The staff report on the 6&7 expansion wil be available Friday June 27. Speakers must register by Friday, July 2 - the following Wednesday. The meeting itself is July 7.

May 23, 2007 report

Public meeting on Wal-Mart expansion set for June 5

A public meeting regarding the Proposed Zoning Amendment to allow further commercial development at the Wal-mart site has been set for Tuesday, June 5th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 59 Carden St.

Our letter to the planning department...

April 17, 2007

Re: 0 Woodlawn Road West: Proposed Zoning Amendment to permit commercial buildings (ZC 0701)
Dear Ms Castellan,
This correspondence is to place on record that Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph opposes the zoning amendment sought by 6&7 Developments Ltd. for the above property. While it is acknowledged the city's commercial policy review recommended this corner be earmarked for future development, the time frame covered by the review takes us to 2021. Given that this site's location is in one of the least populated areas of the city, and that the vast majority of residential growth is to the west, east and south, allowing more commercial development on this site now would only delay or even stop commercial development in areas where shopping and services are more needed. The west end is still underserviced and the east end has waited far too long. This city has recently undertaken a development priorites plan to control how residential growth should take place and in what order. It would only be prudent therefore to undertake a simlar exercise for commercial development, to ensure services are located where the people live and to reduce the environment impact of people accessing those services.

Ben Bennett
Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph

April 4, 2007 report

Surprise! - Wal-Mart wants to expand store and make a power centre at Woodlawn and Woolwich

Details here
Comments should be sent in by April 23. A public meeting will follow.

April 3, 2007 report

Surprise! - south end Zehrs plan features ugly big box as main anchor

Details here

Our letter to the planning department...

April 3, 2007

Gary Austin, Site Plan Co-ordinator
Community Design and Development Services
City of Guelph,
59 Carden Street, Guelph, ON N1H 3A1

Re: Site Plan Approval Application – 1750 Gordon Street – Westminster Market

Dear Mr. Austin,

This correspondence is to place on record that Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph does not support the site plan submitted by GSP Group Inc. for the property known as 1750 Gordon Street (north-east corner of Clair and Gordon).
This community spent a lot of time and money just four years ago asking its residents what kind of city they wanted. The message from the SmartGuelph process was clear - when it comes to design, we can do a lot better.
There are two processes currently under way which have similar goals - the strategic plan and the GuelphQuest initiative. Based on the feedback from the meetings held so far, it appears the current processes will have the same conclusion.
Last November, this community also soundly rejected a council which had no community vision for Guelph in favour of candidates that did. When the development of the Clair/Gordon site was first proposed, and ever since, the issue of design was a concern for the community.
Loblaw representatives have been around for all these events and should be well aware that the people of Guelph are looking for some sign from the company that it is sensitive to the community sentiment.
Instead what we have had submitted is more of the same kind of thing that gives this type of development a bad name and merely reinforces the sense many of us have that the developers simply don't get it or don't care.
The elevations of the planned superstore building shows a structure totally devoid of any kind of architectural interest whatsoever. To submit such a bare-bones, unimaginative, ugly design after all the signals the community has sent to the company is an insult to the people of Guelph and its new council.
The ultimate occupier of the site, the Loblaw Group, has shown it can build well-designed stores, given some encouragement by the host communities. There are examples in Toronto and in Collingwood.
Loblaw can do so much better than this.
Stay tuned!

November 13, 2006 report

Farbridge back as Guelph elects the perfect council

Quarrie - gone!
Schnurr - gone!
Furfaro - gone!
Hamtak - gone!
Ferraro - gone!
Birtwistle - gone!

Details here

Remind yourself what we've been dealing with for the past three years: Time to re-read the inside story on the Wal-Mart issue - free download!

As Guelph's latest temple to Mammon readies itself for a grand opening right before the municipal election, and the predicted traffic chaos at Woodlawn and Woolwich plays itself out, take a moment or two to learn what REALLY HAPPENED.
Secrets, Lies and No Replies - 39 pages (just over one meg) - sets the record straight about what went on in the background (and what didn't). It includes copies of letters and emails sent to Wal-Mart, their lawyers, the city and others as RSD and the Guelph Preservation Action Committee tried to make something happen while the court case dragged on. Click here

September 258, 2006 report

RSD withdraws from CPR appeal

After reviewing the tenor of the recent OMB decision on the Loblaw dismissal motion and the current climate with regard to the issues we had intended to argue at the hearing in Ocotber, RSD has decided to withdraw its appeal. , time and energy. There comes a point when you need to recognize the odds. We've taken this issue as far as we can and the inevitable loss at the OMB would only drain more reserves, time and energy. This way we are still around, legally incorporated, and ready to use the OMB option if council con tinues to ignore intds citizens on other issues." said RSD spokesman Ben Bennett.

August 25, 2006 report

Little point in appealing OMB decision - RSD

Residents for Sustainable Development will not seek leave to appeal the recent decision by the Ontario Municipal Board approving the south end Zehrs mega store without a hearing. "There's no point," said RSD spokesman Ben Bennett. "It's pretty clear the OMB is not interested in what citizens have to say - just like most of our council." Bennett said he cannot understand how a major rezoning that threatens the viability of an existing community shopping centre is not grounds for an OMB hearing. "Add to that the fact that planning staff did not even bother showing the market study that confirms this to councillors and I would have thought there was a lot to talk about." (The study showed 37% sales losses at the Kortright Zehrs and 25% at the Ultramart on Stone Road.) Bennett said he has always been supportive of the OMB process, but the Zehrs decision "shows a disdain for citizen involvement which is really troubling".

July 18, 2006 report

Multi-fath group settles with Wal-Mart

GUELPH, ON, Canada, July 18, 2006—In February of 2006 a broad-based Multi-Faith Initiative comprised of religious leaders and practitioners from many different world religions, including Aboriginal, Anglican, Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Daoist, Jesuit, Lutheran and United, was formed to support a Charter application brought by Guelph resident William Hulet. The application sought to quash a new by-law allowing commercial construction near a world-renowned religious centre and two historic cemeteries. Today the Multi-Faith Initiative announced that settlements have been reached with the Corporation of the City of Guelph and 6&7 Developments Limited.
The settlements fully resolve the current Charter of Rights application before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. They also resolve the appeal by the Ignatius Jesuit Centre of Guelph to the Ontario Municipal Board regarding a proposed "Phase 2” expansion at the same site.
The settlements feature a number of highlights, including further visual and noise mitigation through the use of berms and extensive plantings and landscape alterations. “Based on the best information available,” states Father James Profit the Centre’s Spiritual Director, “it's our understanding that these measures will result in a situation where the users of our Centr e will not be able to see any development or hear any additional noise that might otherwise be generated by development at this location, now or in the future. From our point of view this sends a clear indication of what we believe to be the appropriate standard for development in this area.”
6&7 Developments retained noted landscape architectural firm Terraplan to advise on visual options. The latest proposal will result in significant plantings along the boundary between the development and the Marymount Cemetery/Jesuit lands, including numerous mature cedar trees and the establishment of a “Living Wall,” created from growing willows. As part of the settlement, 6&7 also continued to work with acoustical engineers from Valcoustics Canada. Measures that were put in place as a result of a previous agreement (related to OMB proceedings in 2001), coupled with an increase in the height of the original berm (which 6&7 was able to accomplish once construction started) will ensure that noise levels experienced by those using the Centre will not increase.
“These steps were not directed by the OMB—or by the courts—and everyone sincerely a ppreciates that 6&7 has voluntarily agreed to assist with these measures,” said Eric Gillespie, legal counsel for Hulet. “The fact that significant litigation around these issues has been avoided clearly benefits all of the parties, and everyone involved in the settlement deserves to be commended."
The Ignatius Jesuit Centre was established in 1913, and consists of 600 acres of farmland, gardens, wetland, woodlands and walking trails. In addition to hosting the religious practices of individuals and groups from Guelph and around the world, the centre houses internship programs, the Jesuit Ecology Project, organic agriculture, an aboriginal sweat lodge complex, several hermitages, and Loyola House, a world-renown retreat centre.

April 19, 2006 report

RSD appeals CPR, south-end mega-Zehrs to OMB

Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph (RSD) has appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) the recent council decision to radically change the commercial direction of the city. The commercial policy review process was shortened by the current council after it approved the north end Wal-Mart in the spring of 2004. The public was shut out of th first part of the process and ultimately invited to comment on three proposals that were essentially the same. Council passed its commercial policy, which is based on four large power centres on the edges of the city, in March. RSD cites many reasons for appealing the CPR, including the flawed process, the lack of real choice, the impact on existing commercial centres and the enviromental impacts of sprawl. RSD has also appealed the recent council decision approving 160,00-square foot Zehrs proposal for Clair and Gordon. RSD spokesman Ben Bennett said the commercial policy was opposed by every citizen who spoke at the public meetings and it was supported by the developers. And council approved the policy. "Dozens of citizens say no and a few developers say yes. If council won't listen to its citizens, maybe the OMB will," said Bennett.
RSD's CPR appeal letter is available for download by clicking here.
RSD's Zehrs appeal letter is available for download by clicking here.

April 13, 2006 report

Charter of Rights challenge to Guelph City by-law seeks leave to appeal precedent-setting corporate intervention

GUELPH, ON, Canada, April 13, 2006--A multi-faith initiative to protect sacred lands in Guelph from major commercial construction will seek leave to appeal a decision released April 5, allowing intervener status to the developer, 6&7 Developments Limited. As part of the grounds for granting leave, it will be argued that an intervention based solely and exclusively on economic and property rights and interests has the potential to affect Charter litigation all across Canada from this time forward.
Court dates will be set shortly. Link to the Multi-faith initiaitve website

March 22, 2006 report

Judge reserves decision on letting Wal-Mart join charter challenge arguments

A Superior Court Judge has reserved his decision on whether Wal-Mart is granted intervenor status (and thus gets to participate) in the multi-faith charter challenge against the north end store development. Justice John Sproat heard Wal-Mart lawyet Benjamin Zarnett argue that as owners of the site the company should be allowed to take part. Acting for Bill Hulet and dozens of other faith practicioners, laywer Eric Gillespie countered this by arguing property rights are not covered by the Charter and anything the company could add to the discussion could be brought in via the City of Guelph, with which the company has been legally in bed for the all the recent litigation, with joint documentation and argument for the most part. Link to the Multi-faith initiaitve website

March 14, 2006 report

CPR passed - delegations were just "rhetoric"!

After four hours of earnest, logical and reasoned presentations from more than 20 citizens, March 13, Guelph City Council voted 9-3 to pass the commercial policy review. Councillors Downer, Kovach and Maggie Laidlaw opposed it. Coun. Lise Burcher was absent.
In a show of contempt which was quite breath-taking, Cllr. Dan Schurr dismissed these entreaties as "rhetoric". Full text of RSD's March 13 submission - pdf)
"What happens when stores get bigger - Opinion Piece in Guelph Mercury, February 22, 2006 - pdf)

March 7, 2006 report

CPR comes to council March 13!

The Commercial Policy Review will be returning to Council for final approval on Monday, March 13th. The new commercial policy as presented by staff for future growth in Guelph directs most of the new commercial zoning to four power centres around the periphery of the City (including one at Woodlawn and Woolwich - did you realy think it would stop at one Wal-Mart? The impacts on the Downtown and existing community commercial centres could be huge.
If all the action is on the edge of the city, who will want to locate in the exisitng centres?
This is classic 50s sprawl and most on our city council seem determined to ram this through.
If you want to learn more about this issue please attend the information meeting on March 8th (details below) and make your voice heard when the city hosts the public meeting in the council chambers at 6:30 p.m.at City Hall on Monday, March 13th.

The proposed planning changes are available here or by calling 837-5616. All the ads say you must register by March 8th. While this is helpful for Council, it is NOT necessary. As this is a Planning Meeting held under the Planning Act, anyone present at the meeting my speak without previously registering. You can also submit your comments in writing to the City Clerk at lois.giles@guelph.ca
The staff report, including citizen comments is available by clicking here (WARNING: BIG FILE - COULD TAKE A WHILE...)

The section on the Commercial Policy Review begins on page 39.

On Wednesday, March 8, Ward 5 councillors Lise Burcher and Cathy Downer host a information meeting at St. Matthias Anglican Church, corner of Edinburgh and Kortright roads, at 7 p.m.
Residents of ALL WARDS can attend the meeting.
Full text of RSD's December 1 submission - pdf)
Full text of RSD's May 16 submission - pdf)
RSD's December 31, 2004 submission - pdf)
Guelph Civic League - good information here - link to the e-bulletin

Multi-faith challenge makes Globe and Mail

Click here
Link to the Multi-faith initiaitve website

February 9, 2006 report

Multi-faith challenge puts brakes on Wal-Mart

Multi-faith Charter of Rights challenge seeks to prevent major commercial development near world-renowned religious centre and two historic cemeteries

A broad multi-faith initiative is moving forward immediately seeking to quash a new by-law allowing the Wal-mart development at Woodlawn and woolwich. major commercial construction near
Members of many world religions, including Aboriginal, Anglican, Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Daoist, Jesuit, Lutheran, and United have come together to protect this sacred land, with other faith representatives continuing to come forward.
Following Section 273 of the Municipal Act, an application has been filed alleging that the by-law is illegal—in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms—in that major commercial activity will directly and substantially interfere with the religious beliefs and practices of individuals of many faiths who use the Ignatius Jesuit Centre and adjoining lands.
Section 273(1) of the Municipal Act states that any person can apply to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to have a municipal by-law quashed for illegality.
Bill Hulet, an initiated member of the Daoist tradition, has filed the application today.
“This initiative carries a very strong, completely positive message about protecting deep personal and religious values,” states Hulet. “The Ignatius centre is a meeting ground where many religions intersect with one another hundreds of times each year, and with nature—the Dao—itself.”
The application will be heard February 28.
“This is a very different case, with a highly energized group of dedicated new participants resolved to ensure that the court makes a much more fully informed decision,” emphasizes Eric Gillespie, legal counsel for the applicant. “Here we have a different party, with witnesses from many different faith traditions, a different court, a different legal test, and an opportunity for an entirely different outcome.”

February 2, 2006 report

Prayer Flag Gathering - join us!

This Saturday, February 4, 2006, 10:00 am
Ignatius Jesuit Centre Orchard, Hwy 6, north of Woodlawn Road

The multi-coloured prayer flags flying in the Ignatius Centre orchard will be gathered up Saturday. The 12,176 flags were created by community members to mark each signature on the Not There petition in support of protecting the lands at 6&7 from the massive commercial development planned by Wal-Mart. Each flag also represents a prayer for the continued respect, appreciation, and protection of these lands. Tradition indicates that every time a flag waves in the breeze, the prayer goes out into the universe. We believe that this good will has in fact made a difference, as the effort to protect this area continues to unfold.

The flags have been flying for over two months, and our intention is to remove most of them while they are still holding on. One strand will remain, and a permanently maintained, fully decorated strand of 122 full-sized flags (each representing 100) will be created and installed in the early spring to keep the prayers flowing. According to tradition, we will keep the existing flags and burn them in a special ceremony - to give full respect and effect to their peaceful intention. We will keep you posted.
Please join us on Saturday.
Sam Turton, Annie O'Donoghue, Heather MacRae

January 20, 2006 report

Court of Appeal refuse RSD leave to appeal

The Ontario Court of Appeal has refused Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph (RSD) leave to appeal the August Divisional Court decision on the proposed 135,000-square-foot Wal-Mart development at Woodlawn and Woolwich on Guelph. The court issued a one-page, hand-written decision today that simply says: Leave to appeal refused. Costs to the respondent fixed at $1,500 inclusive of GST and disbursements". The decision was signed by Justices J.A.Doherty, J.A Sharpe and J.A. Armstrong. (see attached). "This completes all the legal steps that were open to RSD," said RSD spokesman Ben Bennett, "However, if anyone wanted to pursue a charter challenge, that option is now directly on the table." The issue is also not dead yet, said Bennett. "Next week I'll be releasing Secrets, Lies and No Replies, which tells the inside story about the efforts we have made to get Wal-Mart to look at other sites in Guelph and the apparent lack of effort by the city and the developer to resolve this issue." The report will be available on RSD's website (www.not-there.ca). With all the opposition to the 6&7 site it will be interesting to see how people actually shop there, he said. Bennett said the modest costs award from the Court of Appeal suggests the court saw some merit in RSD's move to appeal the Divisional Court decision. "We have enough funds to cover those costs. This also means RSD lives on to keep council's feet to the fire on other planning issues like the commercial policy review."

Now avaialble for free download - the inside story on the Wal-Mart issue.

Secrets, Lies and No Replies - 39 pages (just over one meg) - sets the record straight about what went on in the background (and what didn't). It includes copies of letters and emails sent to Wal-Mart, their lawyers, the city and others as RSD and the Guelph Preservation Action Committee tried to make something happen while the court case dragged on. Click here

December 9 report

REMINDER - Comment deadline for CPR is December 16 - next Friday

Comments on the proposed commercial policy review will be received in the Guelph Planning & Building Services Department until Friday December 16, 2005 at 4:30 p.m.
A Staff Report (November 14, 2005) has been prepared outlining revisions to the City’s Official Plan to implement the commercial planning approach approved by City Council. Associated with this are the suggested range of commercial uses tied to each commercial category. The June 27th, 2005 ‘Recommended Approach’ report and related background reports are also posted on the web site. A copy of all reports can also be obtained from the Department of Planning and Building Services – 2nd Floor, 59 Carden Street, Guelph.
For more information, please contact:
Craig A. Manley, Manager of Policy Planning
Planning and Building Services
City of Guelph
Tel: (519) 837-5616 Ext. 2426
Fax: (519) 837-5640
Email: craig.manley@guelph.ca
Full text of RSD's December 1 submission - pdf)
Full text of RSD's May 16 submission - pdf)
RSD's December 31, 2004 submission - pdf)
Guelph Civic League - good information here - link to the e-bulletin

November 24, 2005 report

Wal-Mart documentary plays again this Sunday, November 27 in Guelph

There will be another screening of the new video by Robert Greenwald, "Wal-Mart: the high cost of low price" - Thornborough Building, Room 1200, University of Guelph, (next to the University Centre), Sunday November 27, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. No charge.

November 16, 2005 report

More than 12,000 reasons not to build

The banner says it all. The Guelph Preservation Action Committee (G-PAC) decorated the Ignatius Jesuit Centre orchard with thousands of hand-made flags November 16 to send a clear meassage - NOT THERE! "Showing the flag" here is G-PAC's Annie O'Donoghue.

October 31, 2005 report

Wal-Mart documentary comes to Guelph, November 18

Don't miss the screening of the new video by Robert Greenwald, "Wal-Mart: the high cost of low price" - Thornborough Building, Room 1200, University of Guelph, (next to the University Centre), Friday November 18, 7 p.m. No charge. ..
This is a continent-wide screening - more information here..

October 3, 2005 report

Wal-Mart responds - no deal

Wal-Mart has finally responded to a letter from RSD. After six letters to Andrew Pelletier (three via the regular mail; three via email) were not even acknowledged, let alone responded to, a September 21 letter to Wal-Mart Canada CEO Mario Pilozzi (see below) has received an immediate reply.
Read Mr. Pilozzi's September 26 letter..
Wal-mart is declining RSD's offer to prove it has majority support for the 6&7 site. RSD has writen back to Mr. Pilozzi urging him to look at the other sites and enclosing a copy of the presentations on alternative uses for the 6&7 property from the June 22 public meeting.
Read our October 3 response to Mr. Pilozzi.
Report from the June 22 meeting - 32 pages! - pdf)

September 23 report

GPAC petition now avaialble online

Link here to the G-PAC petition online.

September 22, 2005 report

RSD makes offer to Wal-mart

(RSD's Ben Bennett (green jacket) talks to the media)

RSD has made an offer to Wal-Mart it hopes it cannot refuse.
And if the company accepts, it could be the end of a long and contentious battle against the company's plans to build in the city's north end next to a retreat centre.
In a letter to Wal-Mart Canada CEO Mario Pilozzi the group is offering to withdraw its appeal if the company can prove its claims that there is majority support in Guelph for a store at that location.
But there is a catch.
If Wal-Mart cannot produce a petition supporting the location by the end of the year, RSD says the company must withdraw its application and build elsewhere in Guelph.
"This has always been about the location," said RSD spokesman Ben Bennett at press conference, Thursday.
"There are better locations for Wal-Mart in this city. In fact, we have suggested they build a regular sized Wal-mart in the west and east ends of Guelph, rather than a mega store in the far north end, which is primarily factories, cemeteries and seniors living in apartments. The city has grown exponentially in the past 10 years and almost all the new housing is in the west, east and south," said Bennett.
"Young couples in new homes - that's Wal-Mart's main demographic." Bennett said the court battle "could drag on even longer" given there many be Charter implications.
"We want this over and we thought this was a good way to do that," said Bennett.
Read our letter to Mr. Pilozzi.

August 25, 2005 report

RSD appeals to Ontario Court of Appeal

Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph will continue its fight in the Ontario Court of Appeal. At a meeting of its membership earlier this week, it was agreed that RSD will take its case to the next level. Accordingly, RSD has instructed its lawyer Eric Gillespie to prepare the necessary documentation for a leave to appeal the August 12 Divisional Court of Ontario decision.
The court found that the Ontario Municipal Board had not erred in law when approving a 135,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store at Woodlawn Road and Woolwich Street in Guelph last December.
"As the court did not appear to address the compatibility issue but concentrated primarily on procedural matters it was felt we had no choice but to carry on," said RSD spokesman Ben Bennett.
"We were granted leave to appeal in March by the same court, so any arguments about standing should already have been settled. That court clearly said there was an issue to be addresed here of provincial public interest. We can't understand why the August panel didn't deal with it," he said. The Court of Appeal will likely respond to the leave application in the near future.
Whatever the outcome at the Court of Appeal, a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms remains an option when other legal avenues have been exhausted.

August 12, 2005 report

Divisional Court dismisses Guelph group's Wal-Mart appeal

The Divisional Court of Ontario has denied an appeal by Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph of an OMB decision that allowed a Wal-Mart store in Guelph's north emd.
Statement by RSD spokesman Ben Bennett.
"Obviously we're disappointed and will have to study the decision. It doesn't appear to have dealt directly with the real issues here. Given the number of people who attended the hearing and how impressed they were with the reception from the Court, we were expecting to see a more detailed response to our appeal."" The decision

August 9, 2005 report

Court reserves decision in Guelph Wal-Mart case

The Divisional Court of Ontario has reserved judgment in an appeal of an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) decision which would have paved the way for a huge Wal-Mart store in Guelph's north end next to a 93-year-old Jesuit retreat centre.
After a day and half of argument at Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto, Tuesday, August 9, Justice James Farley told a packed courtroom that the three-member panel of judges had been given a lot to think about. The other two judges were Madam Justice Bonnie Croll and Madam Justice Katherine Swinton.
The appeal had been filed by Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph (RSD) which has be fighting the Wal-Mart for the past eight years. The focus of the case before the Divisional Court was the OMB's handling of the compatibility issue.
In addition to the hundreds of retreatants that visit the world-renowned centre each year, the 600-acre property is used by thousands of people from the community for a variety of spiritual activities, many of whom gave evidence at the OMB hearing, the court was told. The construction of a 135,000 square foot Wal-Mart store adjacent to the property would interfere with those activities, claims the citizens' group. RSD lawyer Eric Gillespie pointed out that freedom of religion is a constitutionally-protected right, but shopping isn't.
All parties agreed none would be seeking costs once the court had made its decision.

Buy a Brick - see below!

Not There CD

For CD information click here

New title track performed by 17 Guelph artisits, plus 14 more!
Tracks by: Ken Brown, Nonie Crete, James Gordon, Sandy Horne, House of Velvet, Jiwani, Norman Liota, Andrew McPherson, Passenger, Tannis Slimmon, Jesse Stewart, Dave Teichroeb and the Plaster Cowboys, Sam Turton Band, and Well Charged.
CDsare also available at Thomas Entertainment, The Bookshelf, Music in Orbit, and The Farmers' Market.
It will be available at Hilside, too.
All proceeds go to Residents for Sustainable Development (RSD).

Check out our "Another Brick Against the Wal(Mart)" campaign
Who we are
Why we are doing this


Guelph Preservation Action Committee (G-PAC)
Guelph Civic League
City of Guelph
Walmart Watch (A new and aggressive US-based organization - and effective, too)
Sprawlbusters (website on Wal-mart and other big boxes and how to fight them)

City of Guelph Commercial Policy Review

CPR report approved by City Council - against the wishes of every citizen presenting
At a special council meeting, Monday, July 25, with ARMED POLICE in the council chamber, Guelph City Council voted 9-3 in favour of the commercial policy framework presented by staff.
There were about 25 presenters - 22 citizens and three developers' agents. The developers' agents spoke in support of the CPR as presented. The citizens spoke against.
Now what? Stay tuned.
Here's an extract of our letter to the city
"Each of the three “options” includes 600,000 square feet of commercial zoning in the far north end. As a community, we have spent the past 10 years arguing about whether it makes sense for there to be ANY further development at Woodlawn and Woolwich. This argument is continuing in the courts to this day. Indeed, it is possible the courts will find there should be no commercial development on that site. There is a major compatibility issue here and your report says there is none. This is just wrong. Not knowing how well briefed your consultant has been on these issues makes it difficult to characterize this as incompetence or just insensitivity to the dozens of citizens who presented at both the May 25 public meeting and the August 5, OMB public night."
Full text of RSD's latest submission - pdf)
RSD's December 31, 2004 submission - pdf)

Andrew Pelletier
Director of Corporate Affairs
Wal-Mart Canada 1940 Argentia Rd.
Mississauga, Ontario
L5N 1P9
To download a draft letter (based on the wording of the community postcard campaign)....
Click here for a draft version in Word - add your address, the date and change as you see fit"
Click here for a draft version in PDF - just add your address and the date"

July 15 report
Not there concert plays to full house!
Despite the oppressive heat, about 400 Guelph residents and some out-of-town visitors packed into Chalmers Church, Thursday night, for the Not There fund-raisng conert.
The show featured many of the local musicians who played on the CD, plus a bonus appearance by Juno-winner Stephen Fearing, who was one of the speakers at the original Wal-mart public meeting at the Evergreen centre 10 years ago.
A wonderful night and lots of cash raised. Guelph rocks!

June 23 report
Residents hear about other uses for 6&7
Residents in Guelph's north end heard last night (June 22) about alternative land uses for the 6&7 Developments property at Woodlawn and Woolwich. Held at the Evergreen Seniors Centre, the evening began with an open house where design concepts were displayed on easels. This was followed by presentations on the traffic, tax and social impacts of a business park, co-operative housing development, a retirement/nursing home facility and a sports and playing fields complex. Other uses suggested included a community park, a research centre, a second campus for Conestoga College and a windmill farm. Elizabeth Snell, who chaired the meeting, said all suggestions will be included in a report which will be submitted to Wal-mart, city council and the chamber of commerce. It will also be posted in the not-there.ca website.
Report from the meeting - 32 pages! - pdf)

May 21 report
RSD selling "bricks" to fund Wal-Mart court battle A local community group has announced a new campaign in its efforts to raise funds for its court battle against the proposed Wal-Mart development in north Guelph. Residents for Sustainable Development is inviting people to buy "Another Brick Against the Wal(Mart)". "Bricks" are $100 each, with small walls available at $500 and Great Walls (made in China but not sold at Wal-Mart, notes RSD) available at $1,000 each. "We are not actually selling real bricks," said RSD spokesman Ben Bennett. "Instead each donor will be sent a certificate for their wall." Order forms are available at the RSD booth at the Guelph Farmers Market or online from the RSD website (www.not-there.ca). Bennett said the campaign was inspired by the British rock group Pink Floyd.
Front page story, editorial and letter to the editor, courtesy of the Guelph Mercury - we urge you to subscribe

March 31 report
Divisional Court grants RSD leave to appeal
Madame Justice Ellen Macdonald has granted RSD leave to appeal the December 27 OMB decision allowing a 135,000-sqaure foot Wal-Mart store in Guelph's north end. "To my mind this is not so narrow as a freedom of religion issue," wrote Madame Justice Macdonald. She noted that the Jesuits "are committed to preserving a location for the development of spirituality and quiet contemplation."
"The question of whether the Jesuits can successfully maintain this position in light of 6&7's plans for development is one of province wide public importance."
The hearing is expected some time this fall [it turned out a date in August was available].
"We're gravely disappointed not just for us but for the people who want this store," said Andrew Pelletier, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Canada. "I think it's a sad situation that there will be another lengthy delay on this project."
Although a grand opening of the Wal-Mart store had been scheduled for early 2006, construction has now been postponed indefinitely." - Guelph Mercury, April 1, 2005
For a copy of the Divisional Court decision, click here.
Guelph Mercury editorial April 1, 2005.
[We urge you to subscribe Here's how]

March 24, 2005 report
Judge reserves decision on RSD's motion for leave to appeal
After a full day of argument, Madame Justice Ellen Macdonald reserved her decision on RSD's motion seeking leave to appeal the December 27 OMB decision approving the Wal-Mart in Guelph's north end. Justice McDonald heard from RSD lawyer Eric Gillespie for approximately 1 1/2 hours, from 6&7 lawyer Benjamin Zarnett for approximately two hours and City of Guelph lawyer Jose Matera for 13 minutes. Mr. Gillespie spoke for a further hour in rebuttal. RSD is seeking leave to appeal the OMB decision based on what it sees as several errors of law in the way the Board addressed the issues surrounding the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Justice McDonald said her written decision will be issued by the end of April.
For a more in-depth summary of the proceedings March 22, click here.
March 14, 2005 report
- Announcing the formation of the Guelph Preservation Action Commiittee(G-PAC)
The Guelph Preservation Action Committee (G-PAC) was formed in January 2005 by Sam Turton, Annie O'Donahue, and Chris Jess to prove that a majority of Guelph citizens believe Wal-Mart's current plans in Guelph are wrong. G-PAC is also determined to investigate city mismanagement and provide information that will benefit the community's quality of life.
Link to G-PAC)

More news below

Coverage of the OMB decison, the appeal and follow-up, courtesy of the Guelph Mercury - we urge you to subscribe
Coverage of the OMB hearing final arguments, courtesy of the Guelph Mercury - we urge you to subscribe
Coverage of the OMB hearing evidence, courtesy of the Guelph Mercury - we urge you to subscribe
Here's how
Our witness statements
David Douglas - planner - pdf)
Stephen Rodd - planner - pdf)
Rev. Jean Mitchell - priest - pdf)
Olga Protz - chaplain - pdf)
The famous elephant ad (appeared in the June 15 Guelph Tribune - pdf)
The famous front page story of the "last ones standing" (appeared in the June 19 Guelph Mercury - pdf)
The famous front page pic of Chris Jess and the cast from the August 5 demo at the OMB public night(appeared in the August 6 Guelph Mercury) The Jesuit case - pdf)
media release

To get on our email list, send us a note. rsd@not-there.ca

Memberships, donations
Memberships can be purchased for $10 from Thomas Entertainment.
If you want to send a donation - made out to Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph, Suite 100, 127 Wyndham St. N, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1H 4E9 - we'd certainly appreciate your support.
Or, we are accepting donations at Thomas Entertainment, the Flour Barrel and Planet Bean in downtown Guelph. Wouldn't you know it? Trying to save your community is considered "political" so we can't give tax receipts.)

More news updates

February 21 update
Leave to appeal hearing moved to Toronto, to be heard March 22, 23
RSD's leave to appeal will be heard March 22 and 23 at the Divisional Court of Ontario in Toronto. Originially set for Brampton, RSD agreed to 6&7's request to move it to Toronto on a "no costs" basis. This means that if RSD fails in its motion, it will not be subject to the other parties' costs, as is often the case in court appeals.
January 12, 2005
Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph (RSD) will seek leave to appeal the December 29 OMB decision allowing a Wal-Mart in the north end of Guelph.
Documents filed today (Wednesday, January 12) with the Divisional Court of Ontario focus on the Charter arguments raised at the hearing regarding apparent conflicts in compatibility between the proposed development and neighbouring lands used for religious purposes, particularly the Ignatius Jesuit Centre.
"The interaction between planning law and Charter rights has been a matter of real controversy at the OMB before" said Eric Gillespie, RSD's legal counsel. "This appeal will hopefully give the courts the opportunity to clarify the law for Guelph and across the province."
Support for an appeal has been overwhelming.
"We have consulted with a lot of people in this community in the past week or so and the response has been unanimous. Everyone has told us to carry on," said Ben Bennett, spokesman for RSD.
"Clearly, a lot of people believe that placing a Wal-Mart at Woodlawn and Woolwich would be a terrible insult to the adjoining cemeteries and the Jesuit Centre, not to mention a traffic nightmare," he said.
"No one is disputing the fact that a lot of Guelph residents want a Wal-Mart store. It is, and has always been, our position that there are better places for it in this city. We believe the commercial policy review currently being undertaken by the council will show there are several places a Wal-Mart could locate - places close to where young families with new homes actually live. These are, after all, Wal-Mart's primary customers."
Bennett noted that a judge will ultimately decide if there are sufficient grounds for an appeal. That decision is expected this spring.
Click for RSD's leave to appeal document

January 3, 2005 report
OMB finds for Wal-Mart
To no one's real surprise, the Ontario Municipal Board has approved the proposed Wal-Mart big box development at Woolwich and Woodlawn in Guelph. We will post the full decision as soon as we have an electronic version.
We're obviously disappointed but given the Canadian Tire OMB decision in 2001 and all that's happened since this was not exactly unexpected.
The big question now is whether we appeal and what form that appeal would take. There will be more on that when we know.
Click for the decision (32 pages in pdf)

October 21 report
Hearing over
More than seven years after its first pre-hearing conference, the Ontario Municipal Board hearing into a proposed Wal-mart in Guelph's north end finally ended today.
"You have presented me with probably the biggest challenge of my life, " said OMB chair Box Boxma as the hearing came to end.
Today was the third day of argument from lawyers representing the developer, 6&7 Developments, the City and Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph (RSD), which opposes the project. The evidence was presented back in August, after which the hearing was adjourned to allow lawyers more time to respond to case law from RSD which suggested the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (freedom of religion) should be considered in this case, because of the unique nature of the proposed Wal-mart site between two cemeteries and the Ignatius Jesuit Centre.
The OMB reserved its decision.
RSD spokesman Ben Bennett said he doesn't expect a decision for several weeks.
"They have a lot to think about," he said. Bennett said he fully expects there will be an appeal, whoever wins, "but it will depend on the wording of the decision."
"Let's just say I'm not putting my files into long-term storage just yet."

September report
Big box hearing adjourned as charter issue is raised
The ongoing Ontario Municipal Board hearing into a proposed Wal-Mart big box store in Guelph's north end, expected to wrap up Sept 1 and 2 at Guelph City Hall, has been adjourned until October 19. In a statement, OMB chair Bob Boxma said a charter issue has been raised which will require more time for the lawyers to prepare their arguments. All parties agreed to the delay. The issue relates to the right to freedom of religion. Three days have been reserved to hear the final arguments on both the planning and charter isues, beginning with 6&7 Developments, October 19.
Statement read by Bob Boxma, September 1, 2004. "RSD intends to argue that the Board, in considering whether to approve the planning instruments for the 6&7 lands, must have regard for the right of freedom of religion that is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Charter issues, once raised, can be complex and may require the Board to consider the ambit of the Charter-protected right in question and its application to the facts at hand. To ensure that the parties are able to provide a complete analysis that will be helpful to the Board, the Board agrees that final argument should not proceed today. Accordingly, the Board has rescheduled final arguments until October 19-21, 2004, being the first dates after today that the Board and counsel are all availalbe."

Hearing adjourned to September 1 and 2.
A legal issue has arisen which means the lawyers need more time to prepare their arguments. The rest of the hearing is complete (i.e. the evidence is now in. That part wrapped up on Tuesday.
Wow - about 400 showed up to attend the public night. 70+ on the speakers list. All but 5 on our side. You have to love this city! We start again on Monday at 9:30 a.m.
About 200 attended the August 1 Walk of Faith; there was a sell-out for the e-Bar fund-raiser August 3 and we've had media coverage in spades. Not a bad start...

June 24 report
Hearing set for August 3, Guelph City Hall
The OMB hearing on the proposed Wal-Mart at Woolwich and Woodlawn will start August 3 at Guelph City Hall. It will run for about a week. 6&7 will make its case first, followed by the City, RSD and then the Jesuit Centre.The public night will be THURSDAY, August 5, at 7 p.m., Italian Canadian Club. See below.
At a pre-hearing conference June 24, the Issues list was reduced to 7 issues, covering incompatibility with neighbouring use, the prospect of the development becoming an unplanned regional centre, the premature nature of the development (i.e., before the city has completed its Commercial Policy Review) and the environmental, health, social and financial impact of vehicle use.
RSD has withdrawn its objection to the Zellers on Stone Road, so that will likely be approved after a short hearing July 19, 10 a.m., city hall.
***Anyone wishing to speak to that should attend July 19 and send their name, address and phone number to Catherina Lisiak at the OMB click here) ****
Please note: the OMB will NOT ALLOW recording equipment of any kind to be used during the hearing (including small tape recorders). We objected to this but were over-ruled.

June 21 report
Another pre-hearing conference will be held at Guelph City Hall, THURSDAY, JUN 24 at 10 a.m. We should have the chair's decision on the Home Depot issue (is it still in or not?), and results of the mediation session held last week - that being a reduced issues list. Cheques and memberships have been coming in since the ad ran in the Tribune last week. Keep 'em coming !

June 15 report
At a one-day hearing at Guelph City Hall, Monday, June 14, on RSD's motion to adjourn the hearing pending resolution of certain legal issues, lawyers for the parties agreed to a mediation session at the OMB this Friday, June 18. Another pre-hearing will be held in Guelph on Thursday, June 24 to see which of the issues have been resolved. The main hearing has been tentatively set for the first two weeks in August.

May 26 report
Council rolls over
Last night (May the Guelph City Council sat through 42 delegations on the big box issue - 37 of them opposed. The only ones to ask questions of speakers and the only ones to actually make any statements about how and why they would vote were councillors Laidlaw, Burcher and Downer, who oppose both developments. There was no word from any of the other council members. Nothing. The scale of this arrogance is hard to describe and articulate. Suffice to say at the point RSD is the only party opposing the developments, Armel having mysteriously withdrawn its (previously strong) opposition last week. The parties had previously to that advised they were no longer opposed to each other. Not a good week. So, now we have some thinking, planning and most definitely some fund-raising to do. We hope others will take the lead on the fund-raising aspects.

April 20 update
Council sets May 25 for a public meeting on big box
A public meeting has been set for May 25, at a location yet to be determined (city hall may be too small). At the meeting, staff will present a report on the outcome of the "settlement" discussions. After three months, no agreements have yet been reached among any of the parties although it is widely rumoured that Zellers and Wal-mart are close to a deal - but they said that six weeks ago...(these guys are lawyers, don't forget).

February 14 update
Parties still talking (although we're not)
As parties in the hearing, RSD (and Dr. Griff Morgan) got to sit down with the city's lawyers recently to see if there was room to negotiate. There wasn't - although we did suggest they should be talking to Wal-Mart directly. The lawyers have advised city council that talKs with other parties are ongoing.

January 16 update
Furfaro motion means more delays

Guelph Councillor Furfaro is bringing the following motion to council this coming Monday.
"Be it Resolved that Council directs the City Solicitor and Aird & Berlis LLP to undertake discussions and negotiations with the parties to the hearing to determine whether and on what terms settlement with some or all of the parties may be achieved and to report back to Council for further discussion on or before February 10, 2004" This motion means the OMB mini-hearing on whether the market issues should include the possibility of a power centre developing in the north end is put on hold, effectively delaying the main hearing another two or three months. Now we are looking at the summer.

November 2003 update
More delays - till March at least
At a routine (we thought) procedural pre-hearing meeting in Toronto in October, Ros Houser, the lawyer for 6&7 developments asked that the market guys not be allowed to look at the potentil impact from the inevitable power centre that would develop if Wal-Mart and Home Depot were allowed (even though there is no application - yet - for a power centre, on the books). The OMB chair, Bob Boxma, agreed..
In response, the U ofG, the Bay and Armel have asked for a judicial review of Mr. Boxma's decision. They claim, essentially, that he made a msitake. So the OMB has now granted a review, which means the same argument will be made in front of another board member. That will be in January so we are on hold until this is resolved. Should be at least a 50-60 day delay but could be more if one or other appeals the OMB decision to the next level.. So, the end of March at the earliest... In the meantime, we now have a very pro-big box council and mayor and can expect a review of the City's position very soon.

August 13 2003 update
Hearing will resume January 13, 2004!
The OMB hearing will resume on January 13, 2004. The parties have reserved four to six months for the hearing, which will be held at the Gueph City Hall council chambers. 6&7 Developments will go first, followed by the University of Guelph, The Bay, Armel Corporation, Residents for Sustainable Development, Dr. Griff Morgan and then the City. Then 6&7 and the U of G get to respond. The Participants will have their chance to speak, probably at a "public night" like they did at the Canadian Tire hearing. No date has been set for that yet. All this is open to the public. The hearing will not sit on Fridays and each day usually starts at 10 a.m.

Phase One of the hearing over - parties agree Wal-Mart would do $505 per square foot
The first part of the OMB hearing, dedicated entirely to determining how much Wal-Mart would sell in a Guelph market, has finished. After months of testimony and delays, the OMB finally told the parties to try to come to an agreement amongst themselves as to what Wal-Mart would do. And they have. A joint statement issued July 18, and now made public, the parties agreed that Wal-Mart would do $505 in the first full year of operation (expect to be 2006 - if they win)and $640 per square foot by 2008. There wil be a pre-hearing August 12 to schedule Phase Two - the real (planning) part of the hearing - and it will be in public! Planning and market evidence will now have to be updated so the hearing will not likely resume until late fall.

Maybe the fall for the planning part of the hearing, maybe later
The in camera part of the OMB hearing, which has been dealing with market issues (how much Wal-mart would do in a Guelph market, primarily) has been dragging on for months, intermittently, and is now delayed again because one of the witnesses is very ill. As a result, the parties are participating in a mediation session, attempting to agree to some numbers that way. Why this wasn't done before we don't know. At any rate, that process is ongoing and continues June 17. Once we do get an agreed number for Wal-Mart sales (which we think will be between $450 and $550 per square foot), there will be more delays while planning reports are updated. We will not get to the public planning part of the hearing therefore until at least the fall.

Looks like a summer session in Guelph
The OMB hearing has been running for several months, in camera, in Toronto, to talk about market issues. There have been all kinds of delays for various mundane reasons. It looks right now that that part may be finished by May Then there wil be a decision for the Board about what kind of sales a Wal-Mart store would do in Guelph. Then there will be a 30-day delay while the market reports are updated and then there will be a 30-day delay so the planning reports can be updated. Then we can start the main, public planning part of the hearing in Guelph. So it looks like July-ish.
January 2003 update - Wal-Mart nailed for $50,000 in costs
The decision on court costs in connection with Wal-Mart's action against Bob Onyschuk, and the Guelph Mercury has now come down. The OMB awarded costs against Wal-Mart - $50,000! The essence of the decision seems to be that the Wal-Mart lawyers took too long and wasted everyone's time. The in-camera sales/markets arguments are continuing and we expect the planning (public) part of the hearing to start late ths spring. Of course, you never know what else can happen between now and then...

Fall 2002 update
In camera sessions to finally proceed October 7
After a bizzare month where the in-camnera arguments about market issues and numbers were stalled, the hearings resume, in camera, on October 7. On September 4, the Guelph Mercury published some confidential sales figures in a story about Wal-mart's anticipated performance at a Guelph store. The result was a motion from Wal-Mart seeking to have Bob Onyschuk removed from the hearing and charges of contempt laid against him, reporter Hilary Stead and the Guelph Mercury. Today, the decision came back from the OMB saying it would not be sending the issue to the Divisional Court so we can now get on with the hearing.

Hearing goes in camera to argue sales figures
We had a one-day session on Tuesday so Ros Housser of 6&7 Developments could make her opening statement. Not much new there and lots of interruptions from other lawyers who felt she was trying to make argument. They now go in camera for about six weeks while they argue about potential sales for Wal-Mart. The next public sessioin will be Oct 11 in Gueph at 10 a.m. when we look at what needs to done to include the former Desert Inn property with our hearing. The OMB decided to include the proposal for a possible Home Depot on that property in with our hearing.

August 2002 update
More delays - resume September 3
Since the three-month delay while Wal-mart provided 2001 sales figures and the analysts did their analysis, the U of G, Armel and the Bay tried to get three more stores' sales figures when they realised the Wal-Mart market guy had included them in his analysis (It's all very esoteric and doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot other than delay). The OMB had a motion hearing on August 12 on that issue and yesterday the Board said it would NOT order the extra sales figures and would give us the reasons in writing soon. (Look for an appeal by the U of G etc. on that issue - which could mean more delay). Yesterday there was a motion hearing on whether the OMB hearing on expanded commercial uses at the former Desert Inn property should be rolled into our hearing as it is rumoured to be a Home Depot, and is adjacent to the 6&7 site. The Board reserved its decision on that so we wait. We are currently scheduled to resume on September 3 in the Guelph council chambers. Assuming nothing else happens in the meantime to delay things (which is more than possiible) we should be moving quickly to Phase One of the hearing - the market issues. This will be about six weeks of in-camera sessions on what kind of sales a Wal-mart can be expected to do in Guelph. Based on the previous analysis, we know it will be somewhere between $450 and $600 per square foot but they have to argue about the exact figure for six weeks! This may well be moved to Toronto, as it is in camera. We are not participating in the in-camera stuff although our friend and colleague Dr.Griff Morgan, another party, will be taking part in some of the debate. In the meantime, there are still a few copies of Gueph Against Goliath left at the Bookshelf.

April 2002 update
Hearing gets under way at least, then stalled!
The hearing started as planned on April 15. There was two days of background evidence and then two days of tours of shopping cnetres. Then there was a week's delay so Armel, The Bay and the U of G could prepare a motion on getting Wal-Mart's latest sales figures. That motion hearing was held on Monday, April 29 and on April 30, the Board ordered the sales figures but gave them all three months to rejig their market analysis. We resume on August 12.

Who we are
(Note:The Big Box Action Group (BBAG) was a group of Guelph citizens concerned about improper development in the city. The group has opposed proposals for "power centres" in the city's north end and on Stone Road. Mega projects which place existing local shopping centres (including the downtown), in jeopardy, do not serve the community. With the coming together of overwhelming public opposition through the public meeting process and the need to continue that opposition at the Ontario Municpal Board, the group broadened to include residents and groups from across the community. The new name was felt to better represent the group's broader membership base and mandate, and leaves us ready to work together on other planning issues when the big box OMB hearing and continuing legal battle against Wal-Mart was over.)

RSD Mission Statement
We are a group of Guelph citizens who care about the quality of life in our community. We support appropriate development that enhances a healthy, sustainable community and fulfils the needs of its citizens.
We support development that will maintain a balance amongst all the areas of Guelph (North, South, East, West and Downtown) and that strengthens local control and ownership.

Click here to e-mail us right now: rsd@not-there.ca

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