By Jessica Lovell
People heading out of town north on Highway 6 may have seen the signs declaring new development coming soon to the site of the Guelph Curling Club.
The signs don’t lie. But not to worry; the curling club is not going anywhere.
“The Guelph Curling Club’s always had a large plot of land beside it, which we lease to the city for baseball fields and soccer fields,” said club vice-president Amanda Gebhardt.
Now, the club is looking at changing the use of that land – leasing it for commercial retail space and residential development. The concept would be similar to the way the University of Guelph leases some of its surplus land, said Gebhardt.
Leasing the land for the long term has the potential to provide a better return for the club than selling the land, she said.“That way, we could have a guaranteed income for the club,” she said.
In the past, the club had looked at the possibility of selling the land, buying new land and building a new curling club elsewhere, but that plan changed when the club found it wouldn’t get enough money for the land.
As well, “eventually that money would be gone,” Gebhardt said.
By leasing the property, the club can continue to have smaller amounts of money coming in forever, she said.
What exactly the development will look like is not known.
“We’ve done a concept master plan for the site,” she said, explaining that the club is in the process of getting zoning ready.
The city is holding a public meeting on May 12 at 7 p.m. in council chambers at city hall to provide information related to the zoning application.
The plan includes multiple buildings with a mix of commercial and residential uses on the site.
Townhouses of two- to four-storeys would back onto the cemetery property next to the curling club land and would act as a bit of a buffer between Marymount Catholic Cemetery and any commercial development, said Gebhardt.
What exactly any of that commercial development might be, it is still too early to say, she said.
The club is working on the planning process “so when we’re talking to interested parties, they know we’re ready,” she said.
She also could not put a dollar figure on what kind of revenue leasing the land might be expected to produce.
The board is not sharing any thoughts it might have as to income expectations, “just because we don’t want to interfere with the process,” Gebhardt said.
But if the club does well on the venture, it could lead to a move in the future, she said.
“We’re always kind of keeping an eye out for land,” she said, noting that although the club likes its current location, it also recognizes the benefits of being in the south end of the city, closer to Highway 401.
In the meantime, there is no target date for when the club might start leasing the land at its current site, so the club hopes the city will continue to use the sports fields that currently exist there.
“We have no definite plans for timing,” said Gebhardt. “We are just trying to be ready in case the opportunity does arise.”
Those who wish to speak to council about the matter at the public meeting must register as a delegation by contacting the City Clerk’s Office, 519-837-5603 or firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than Friday May 9 at 9 a.m. Written comments must also be submitted by the same deadline to Guelph City Clerk, 1 Carden St., Guelph, Ont., N1H 3A1.
By Jessica Lovell