It is an important time for river advocates in Guelph. Tonight City Council will vote whether to update the city’s Official Plan with dubious protection for the Speed River and Eramosa River greenway. Coincidentally, this Sunday begins a week-long celebration of our unique natural heritage, the first Two Rivers Festival.
Rally for River Protection
The Living Rivers and Greenways Action Group (LRG2) has succeeded in raising concern about changes to the Official Plan. On May 31 Guelph Mercury ran an article about the issue, focusing on an interview with Todd Salter, general manager of planning services. Another story appeared the same day in the Guelph Tribune. Mayor Karen Farbridge responded to concerns in her blog on June 1.
However, responses from the Mayor and city staff do not explain why the River System Management Plan (RSMP) is being dropped from the Official Plan in OPA 48. The RSMP has served as a cornerstone of city planning since 1995 and is the most comprehensive urban river corridor policy in Canada. OPA 48 also fails to prioritize integrating passive-use open spaces and the natural heritage system into a unified greenway system.
LRG2 has asked citizens to contact their councillors and register as delegations for tonight’s council meeting at 7 p.m. Registration closed last week but it is not too late to communicate with councillors, attend the meeting and show support for Guelph’s two rivers at risk. A rally is planned outside city hall at 6 p.m.
Two Rivers Festival
June 10 will kick off a week of activities intended to “Inspire awareness, appreciation and restoration of the river system,” in Guelph. The Two Rivers Festival schedule lists 24 events, something every day from Sunday to Sunday: guided walks, talks and paddles, and a Friday night concert at the covered bridge. Visit the website for more details. I’m intrigued by “Sighting and Writings: Birding With Rachel Carson” on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. Also be sure to participate in the annual Speed River Clean-up. It starts at Royal City Park gazebo at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 16.
Incidentally, Ontario Public Interest Research Group will hold a tree identification hiking workshop and park maintenance this Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Participants can learn to identify some native and non-native species, help maintain prior Speed River Project plantings and discuss river management. Meet at Wolfond Park by the Speed River near Arthur Street north of Eramosa Road.
Read also: Guelph’s Two Rivers at Risk.