Thursday, December 29, 2011

another chapter in city politics draws to a close

photo courtesy of Dodge Baena

Winter is oddly depressing and comforting. It is the season of emotional senescence, whereby we retreat inside and reflect on the year that passed. At least it is that way for me; I don't ski or snowboard. Snow irritates my ankles.

The winter break has provided me all the free time university siphons away. My casual rejection of being outside in the winter has loosened, since I have discovered pleasurable free outdoor activities, like the Nicholas Lambden rink in front of City Hall.

This rink (hopefully), represents a closing chapter in the City of Guelph, as is naturally expected in the season of Winter. The implementation and construction of the new rink, City Hall building, and Market Square space has been a point of contention between the public, downtown merchants, and city hall, for several years. Anyone who frequents downtown can attest, Carden St. has been in a perpetual state of construction every summer for the past several years. The construction was blamed for driving away customers and putting merchants on the verge of bankruptcy. The situation between merchants and the city was poorly handled; at one point the city threatened to sue business owners over a defamatory comparison made between city councillors and the three stooges.  . 

The negative impacts of Carden's (re)construction have been used as fodder by the anti-Farbridge groups to support the claim that the City of Guelph is anti- business, as was mentioned in a leaked report earlier this year. To truly determine if this is correct, I feel more time is needed to see the change in business on Carden St.

I understand all the arguments against the reconstruction of Carden, but after visiting I find it harder to convince myself it was a bad idea. It's a beautiful space, and attracts a diverse selection of Guelphites. It is endearing to see new Canadians strapping on skates and embracing a Canadian pastime. It is endearing to see wobbly-footed children coached by their grandparents. It is endearing to see young couples hold hands and weave their way around the ice.

Was the cost/benefit of the new space worth it? I don't know, but I am definitely going to be spending more time in that space, and hopefully I will buy a thing or two from the shops there (Hempire, anyone?).