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Baker Street District

City of Guelph

“With the provincial call on the table, Conestoga College with the support of the University of Guelph are planning to submit a proposal for a new campus for over 1000 students seeking post-secondary, academic upgrading, training, and/or continuing education,” the city staff report says.

Conestoga College campus eyed for downtown

A potential Conestoga College campus for over 1,000 students in the downtown’s Baker Street area will be discussed at a special city council meeting Wednesday. Council will also look at the possibility of a special property tax levy for a proposed new economic investment fund.
A separate or special property tax levy “may be required as one of the components” of a proposed Guelph Economic Investment Fund, says a city staff report done for the 6 p.m. Feb. 26 council meeting. Money needed for this proposed fund is “in the order of $60 million to $80 million,” the report says.
“This investment would be recovered over time through increased economic potential, increased assessment value and therefore tax income,” the report says.
Conestoga College is one of the city’s potential partners for redevelopment of the Baker Street Parking Lot and surrounding area. This includes property the city has been acquiring on upper Wyndham Street for a new main library that would back onto the current parking lot site.
Council will be asked Wednesday to support in principle an application that Conestoga College intends to submit to the province for a new Guelph campus that could go on the Baker Street site. Conestoga’s application comes after the province issued a call in December for proposals for new or expanded post-secondary campuses in Ontario. “With the provincial call on the table, Conestoga College with the support of the University of Guelph are planning to submit a proposal for a new campus for over 1000 students seeking post-secondary, academic upgrading, training, and/or continuing education,” the city staff report says.
Conestoga and the U of G are listed as the “six emerging partners” in the city’s redevelopment plans for the Baker Street area. The other four are the Guelph Public Library, Innovation Guelph, the YMCA-YWCA of Guelph and the U of G’s Central Student Association, which represents the university’s undergraduate students.
“This cluster has the potential to be a community anchor of significant scale and has led to a real discussion of community engagement, collaboration, synergies, financial commitments and space requirements,” the report says.
Last year, the city, the county, Conestoga and the U of G jointly hired the consulting firm Deloitte and Touche to do additional assessment of local post-secondary education needs. A need was found for increased post-secondary education capacity to meet the educational and training needs of local industry and business, it says.
The proposed Guelph Economic Investment Fund would provide a dedicated funding source to help the city “activate the ‘next wave’ of downtown projects,” the report says.
It says the current assessed value of taxable properties in the downtown area is about $300 million, and the annual property taxes they generate is about $4.7 million. Redevelopment that adds 6,000 new residents and 1,500 new jobs to the downtown could see the assessed value jump to $1.3 billion and taxes rise to $16.7 million a year by 2031, it says.
This could result in the city taking in more than $120 million in new property tax over the next 20 years, the report says. However, without the proposed Guelph Economic Investment Fund, “this future revenue potential and future growth opportunities are greatly diminished,” it says.
“Seeding and leveraging” of the next wave of downtown redevelopment projects would allow the city to achieve community goals, the report says. “More importantly, growth in the downtown will allow the city to activate other areas of the city,” it adds.
The “economic intensification” of downtown Guelph requires the city to act on its priorities and make clear its continued commitment to redevelopment, the report says. “Over the last several years, key programs and initiatives have jumpstarted downtown development and now require the city to be more explicit and deliberate in maintaining the development momentum created,” it says.

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