The New-Look Carden Street

Karen KesselDowntown Guelph, Special Events

After what seemed like a never-ending period of construction, Guelph residents are finally reaping the benefits of their patience. The brand new Market Square features have been a hit among families the past few months. While the skating rink provided seasonal fun in the cold weather, the scorching hot summer we encountered has been the perfect excuse for those wishing to try out the brand-new splash pad for the first time.

The all-new Market Square also played host to the latest instalment of Fourth Fridays downtown recently, as well as this past weekend’s Jazz Festival. A monthly feature throughout the summer, the aptly-named Fourth Friday event drew large crowds seeking family entertainment on a Friday night in the city. Combine the new events with the fresh looks and it’s important to consider how it was all made possible. In short: Foresight.

City planners have one of the toughest jobs, in my opinion. They are tasked with selling ideas, oftentimes with multi-million dollar price tags. Their work requires both innovation and tremendous foresight, projecting the needs of the city for years to come. This also comes with its share of scrutiny from those who don’t share the same sentiments when it comes to their ideas for the future. The thing about city planning is that we don’t know exactly what we need until the time comes, but if we wait until we need it, we’re too late. So in essence, we pay these people to make guesses, highly-scrutinized guesses, and expect them to get it right. Every time.

This is a great place to mention the strong majority vote in favour of the RiverHouse development on MacDonell and Woolwich too. Those 300 people permanently moving to downtown -the ones who will buy specifically to be in the heart of Guelph- will do wonders for the restaurants and shops in the area. And while 3 councillors didn’t see the merit in the project for one reason or another, 10 did. 10 councillors respected the time and effort put in by those city planners. The dream weavers. The best salespeople on the planet.

So, well done city staff. For the hardships the construction caused Carden St. businesses, the return looks quite promising. It’s next to impossible to get a parking spot on Carden anymore (another issue), but that’s a good thing. It means people are visiting the revitalized downtown. Sure there’s more change coming to Downtown Guelph, the job of a city planner is never through. But given the work that this group has done thus far, the reasons for optimism are endless.