Guelph Mercury editorial, July 31, 2009
The City of Guelph and its political masters were likely expecting something of the sort of protest activity that has developed this week on the grounds of its proposed Hanlon Creek Business Park.
For months, the location was identified by politically active and environmentally passionate residents as sacred turf to be kept pristine. People connected to this camp have held public meetings, workshops, press conferences and other events at the site, offered copious submissions to local opinion forums at least in part to draw attention to the property’s purported heritage and environmental value — as well as to the plans to make it, well, an industrial park. Given the community’s recent history of vigorous protest activity on environmentally related subjects, a significant response to a contractor using heavy machinery at the site should have been anticipated.
The city and opponents of the project will likely be hard pressed to find a compromise on the future use of the property. But the city undermined relations with those now occupying the site and various supporters of that group by failing to report with enough energy how the plans for the site will be modified as a result of the discovery in May that the plot is home to an endangered and protected salamander species.
The May 21 announcement from the city, revealing proof of Jefferson salamander activity in that area included a statement that the city and province will have to review what that means for the proposed development. Whatever the review has produced isn’t known to the community — despite calls for that context.
If that process is ongoing, the city would seem to be moving prematurely in having work done at the site. If that review is complete, the municipality should reveal how — if at all — the proposed business park would have to be amended due to the discovery of the salamander.