Baker District redevelopment

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Welcome to the Online Engagement for the Baker District Redevelopment!

The Urban Design Master Plan shows how all the elements of the Baker District—residential, commercial, parking and open space—fit together and connect.

Land Acknowledgement

In planning for the redevelopment of this area of Guelph, we are reminded that Guelph is situated on treaty land that is steeped in the rich history of Indigenous Peoples and home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis people today.

As a City we have a responsibility for the stewardship of the land on which we live and work.

We acknowledge the Mississaugas of the

Welcome to the Online Engagement for the Baker District Redevelopment!

The Urban Design Master Plan shows how all the elements of the Baker District—residential, commercial, parking and open space—fit together and connect.

Land Acknowledgement

In planning for the redevelopment of this area of Guelph, we are reminded that Guelph is situated on treaty land that is steeped in the rich history of Indigenous Peoples and home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis people today.

As a City we have a responsibility for the stewardship of the land on which we live and work.

We acknowledge the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation of the Anishinaabek Peoples on whose traditional territory the Baker District Redevelopment will be built.

Building a Better Food Future:

Windmill Developments is thrilled to present the video series, “Sowing Change,” which explores the question: What does it take to build a better food future?

In partnership with the City of Guelph, Windmill is developing a model sustainable community in the heart of downtown Guelph, called the Baker District. Unique to this project is a focus on making the Baker District a community that promotes and celebrates local and sustainable food.

Guelph has a thriving food community that the Baker District aims to strengthen and support. Through the Sowing Change video series, Windmill intends to shine a spotlight on leaders within Guelph’s food community who are helping to create a more sustainable, accessible and resilient food system. Together, we will explore how we can build a better food system in Guelph and across Canada.

Imagine a food system where there’s no such thing as waste and where every resident has access to the healthy, nutritious food they need. Sound too good to be true? Not for the City of Guelph. In this interview with Barb Swartzentruber of Our Food Future, learn more about how the City of Guelph is actively building Canada’s first circular food economy.

Baker District Redevelopment Overview

We’re transforming the existing Baker Street municipal parking lot and adjacent properties into a compact district nestled in Guelph’s historic core that will create a renewed area of activity, commerce and civic space for the local community and city.

This welcoming and publicly-accessible integrated civic hub—known as Baker District—is anchored by a new central Guelph Public Library and outdoor urban square, and features residential units, commercial and potential institutional space, and public parking.

As a landmark city-building initiative, the Baker District redevelopment further revitalizes our downtown and—by extension—improves our entire city’s economic and social prosperity.

This means:

  • more people living downtown and contributing to the City’s tax base to fund municipal programs and service
  • more jobs due to an increase in demand for retail and commercial services
  • an increase in retail spending for current and new businesses
  • more people visiting and learning downtown; contributing to a vibrant and healthy downtown

The project also contributes to Guelph’s growth target: a population of 191,000 people and an employment base of 101,000 jobs by 2041. Specifically, the City’s Official Plan has Guelph’s downtown being planned to achieve a density target of 150 people and jobs combined per hectare by 2031 and to be a focus for high density employment, residential development, public infrastructure and services, and multimodal transportation.

For more information about the project, visit guelph.ca/bakerdistrict



CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Take a look at the presentation and ask any questions you have here.

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    Whose bones are buried at the site?

    Pinetrees asked about 2 months ago

    The site of the Baker Street parking lot historically served as an all-faith burial ground from 1827-1853. Records show that when the Town of Guelph passed a new bylaw banning human burials within city limits in 1853, known graves were moved from the public burying ground to what is now Woodlawn Memorial Park. 

     

    The City has found human remains in this area in the past through various work and repairs, and in all cases, the remains were removed with the permission of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, and later reinterred at Woodlawn Memorial Park in a special section devoted to these and future such finds. 

     

    • In 2005, the City unearthed the remains of one male, one female, nine infants, and 36 incomplete remains. 
    • In 2010, a sinkhole on Baker Street revealed the remains of an infant.
    • In 2016 the City unearthed bone fragments from underneath Baker Street while turning off water to the Baker Street parking lot booths in preparation for their removal. These 

     

    Following the finding in 2016, the City worked with an archeological consultant, Stantec to investigate the general site and further investigation was done in 2018 in preparation for the development of the site. 

     

    Despite this work, we know that human remains and historical artifacts may still be found through construction. Some graves were unmarked, or markings were missing when remains were moved in 1853, some people were likely laid to rest outside of the cemetery boundaries, and Indigenous people lived on this land before settlers arrived.

     

    We’ll continue archeological investigations throughout the construction of the Baker District including a more in-depth investigation later this year before we plan to break ground. All work of this nature is supervised by licensed archaeologists. 

     

    In the case that more remains are found, we’ll make sure appropriate action is taken in their care and handling, including notifying all appropriate government agencies. We ensure human remains are treated with respect and dignity, and the City does not take or share photographs of any remains found. We ask that media and the public respect this direction as well.

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    *This question was originally submitted by user 55 Yarmouth using the Comments tool* I live at 55 Yarmouth and have an east facing view onto Baker Street. Looking at your plans for baker district, my future view will be an office or residential building. I’m disappointed that I will be losing my view. Why not place utilize the other end of the lot where there are low rise businesses?

    about 2 months ago

    The height and massing of the buildings has already been approved by the City of Guelph and forms part of the Secondary Plan for the downtown. Windmill’s design is in compliance within these parameters and is not seeking additional density or height from what has already been approved by the City following a full public engagement process. The City has a view corridor that restricts the location of the high rise elements of both residential towers to largely the west side of the Baker District. The same view corridor otherwise limits the height of the buildings to about 3 storeys across the balance of the Baker District. The City will be widening Baker Street as part of the district improvement and making it into a two way street. This will help to both significantly beautify the street as well as create a greater set-back between your building and the North tower of Baker leaving more light.  

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    WIll any consideration be made to allow access to businesses the front Wyndham St. ? The plan offer no details at all about Park Lane South other than it will be similar to Chapel Lane. As owner of Speed RIver Bicycle we need the ability for our customers to load/ unload bicycles . Our new location at 112 Wyndham will have a new entrance being face the Baker lot and future development. Having access to a loading zone would be vital to us

    Cosmo Carere asked about 2 months ago

    The design for Park Lane South is still in the preliminary design stage and will be developed in more detail over the next year.  There are space constraints on the site which may not allow for loading zones but the City will work with the adjacent business owners as the design is finalized and to plan the construction logistics. There may be alternative solutions. 

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    What is the plan for parking during construction? I'm assuming it will take a number of years to complete the project. I work at a downtown salon, and our guests complain about lack of (close by) parking already so I'm hoping we don't lose a lot of business during this time. Many are there for longer than two hours and wouldn't be willing to walk to/from the Wilson Street lot, if street parking is not extended. I'm also wondering what will happen for downtown staff who have passes in Baker and Wyndham lots.

    LisaC asked about 2 months ago

    The City is currently planning for the closure of the Baker Street lot with the anticipated closure in the fall. The current permit holders will be relocated to other City-owned parking lots. More information about this closure will be provided in the coming months.

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    The current Guelph Library location is great because it is just outside of the downtown core. I avoid going downtown at all costs aside from my work due to the amount of people loitering, asking for money, etc.... It hasn't felt safe in a while; our place of business has had to call the police on numerous occasions due to people coming in acting belligerent. In that regard, how will this space be different?

    GuelphBorn&Raised asked about 2 months ago

    By moving the library to the south end of the site, the proposed design for the new central library presents an opportunity to animate the intersection of Quebec and Baker streets in a new way. Between the library, new residential buildings and planned retail spaces, overall foot traffic and use of this area will increase—we expect it to be a busy, bustling space. In fact, Chapel Lane would adopt the character of what’s called a complete street, with a much heavier emphasis on pedestrian movement. This area would act as an extension of the public space and link the planned Wyndham Square through a landscaped mews to a Library Square. There’s also an opportunity to connect access to the library from St. George’s Square.

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    What would the prices look like for the affordable housing? Would it be lower than the current market? Do you need to meet some sort of criteria to qualify? As a single person I’ve found it quite difficult to find decent accommodation for a price I can afford, yet I make just over too much to qualify for the housing programs in Guelph. So will people like myself and I’m sure many others in this predicament be kept in mind for the affordable units?

    Dogmom93 asked about 2 months ago

    This is good question that is somewhat difficult to answer given the lack of personal details you have provided. Windmill continues to research various suitable affordable living programs and partners in the Guelph area. The programs differ quite a lot and we have not yet committed to a specific program as we still have a year before starting construction. We are endeavouring to find the most beneficial program to suit the community’s needs while making the project viable for Windmill.

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    *This question was originally submitted by user Beverly using the Comments tool* I love the idea of having a new library in the downtown area and I think it's long overdue, however I think the location could be better. A library that is on the periphery of downtown, that can provide plenty of parking and potential for expansion in the future, would be a better choice. Also I would like to see a library location that is not part of a multi-use space. The current plan will appeal to only a select group of residents. Don't we want one that will attract all?

    about 2 months ago

    The City of Guelph, with input from the community through several public consultations, determined that the new Downtown main library would be the primary institutional component of the Baker District Development. These decisions were studied with input from various external consultants prior to Council endorsing the location in 2007. Baker District is the largest available remaining site for development that can accommodate a large institutional building in the Downtown.

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    *This question was originally submitted by user kylej using the Comments tool* Overall this Baker Street Urban Design Master Plan is a major disappointment. For a project that prides itself on sustainable design practices, there is far too much space dedicated to cars, with the pedestrian space either shared with cars, or broken up into small spaces across the site. ` Baker Court: This should be a pedestrian only area between Baker Street and the square at Wyndham. Instead, it’s space that is shared with cars. It’s made even less attractive by putting the residential entrances along Baker Court. This is a missed opportunity for putting the retail along this space with a marketing zone area in front to animate the area. The residential entrances could be placed along Baker Street instead. Park Lane (North): This area would be fine, if it weren’t for the road cutting through the north tower. The first floor frontage of the north tower should continue along Baker Court to hide the servicing/parking access of Park Lane North behind the building. Chapel Lane/Park Lane (South): While I would be happy to be proven wrong, I just can’t imagine this space being the pleasant shared space that this plan imagines it to be. With access for the Wellington County Building parking lot, the parking garage for the library, and servicing for the buildings along Wyndham and Quebec Streets, this street is full of uses that aren’t particularly attractive for a pedestrian. I would prefer to see the library turn its back on this space. This would allow the library to move the proposed garbage collection off of Baker Street, and into this space, keeping Baker Street more pleasant. Wellington Building Parking Lot: This is a huge hole in the site. I would hope that every possible effort is made to work with the County to move this parking into the underground garage, freeing this area to either extend Library Square, or allow another small building on the site, better framing Baker Court. Loss of Library Lane: While I’m happy that there is no longer a plan for a cut through for cars as Library Lane was in the old design, it’s disappointing that we’re losing that strong connection from Wyndham to Baker street in this new plan. If the city were to acquire the building at 148 Wyndham, Baker Court could be extended as a pedestrian only space across the site. This would then allow the north tower podium to be extended all the way to Wyndham. Instead of framing the Wyndham Urban square with Wyndham near Eramosa (too many cars), and the blank walls of the concert theatre, this enlarged Baker Court would be framed by the active frontage along the north tower, and by the beautiful Dominion Public building. Overall Pedestrian Realm: For a site in the middle of Downtown to have vehicular access on the north, mid and south ends of the site is incredibly disappointing. I would hope for a better design that limits vehicles to only one or two of the parts of the site. My preference would be to keep Baker Court car free, and use both halves of Park Lane for serving and parking access, as far from pedestrians as possible. Incidentally, there are 102 matches for the word “Parking” in this report, but only 66 for “pedestrian”. It certainly feels that parking is of far higher concern than pedestrians are. Affordable Housing: Windmill intends for only 12% of the housing built on this site to be deemed affordable (if indeed any at all). This is a shamefully low amount considering the crisis we face in a lack of affordable housing options. With the library only being 3 storeys tall, on a site the Downtown Secondary Plan allows for 6, it would be great to have the City develop three storeys of entirely affordable housing on top of the library. While this does add risk and complexity to the project, the current alternative leaves the site underdeveloped. Conclusion: Lest this be entirely negative, I do want to say I’m excited that this development is going forward. We need a new library and it’s great to add more housing and retail space downtown. I just wish this was a development that considered people more in it’s urban design. As we’ve seen last year with the success of the Dining District program, there’s huge demand for a downtown built for people, and this project presents a fantastic opportunity for great pedestrian spaces.

    about 2 months ago

    Thank you for your comments and feedback on the urban design master plan. As you are no doubt aware, this is the 3rd overall site plan change for the Baker District. A number of the design and planning considerations you see resulted from the initially proposed land assembly morphing back to include only the municipally owned parking lots at Baker and Wyndham Streets. This presented numerous key challenges to the overall site layout, servicing requirements, intended institutional space, and residential towers.

    The City rights of way (Park and Chapel Lanes) were always planned to remain as such throughout. Our intent is to make Chapel Lane into a woonerf similar to that in front of City Hall. This will help to prioritize active transport over cars. Baker Court will be similar and is intended to be limited to occasional service vehicles and access for bicycles and cars to/from the underground parking garage for the two residential towers. It will also provide a replacement for a legal right of way to a neighbouring property’s rear parking lot.

    The final design change was the main library at the south end of Baker District. The current iteration remains completely within the City’s view corridor restrictions from Eramosa Road to the Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate. The library’s current design is set at three storeys and lies just within the view corridor height restriction.

    Parking is a polarizing issue within the City. We are trying to strike a balance between the needs of residents and public users today as well as those in 20-30 years.

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    I am wondering where parking will be?Downtown is chronically short of parking in general.

    Concerned business owner asked about 2 months ago

    There will be a multi-story below grade public parking garage built under the library and library square. In addition, the private components will add significant parking spaces available to the residents of those buildings. With the downtown location of Baker District, it is anticipated that many people living in the immediate area of the Downtown will chose to walk or ride their bike during a reasonable portion of the year. Secure bicycle parking will be integrated into the development.   

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    Why would the North Towns be contingent on market demand? The housing market for this category of dwelling in out of control in our city and allows larger families to enjoy the downtown urban lifestyle.

    Royalcity2021 asked about 2 months ago

    We share your enthusiasm for the level of demand for townhomes in Guelph. The townhomes will be likely be the last phase of the overall development in Baker District and therefore several years away. In the meantime, Windmill is focused on the library, urban squares, below grade parking beneath the entire site footprint, and the two high rise buildings. The below grade parking will extend below the townhomes as part of the first phase of the district construction.    

     

    As construction of the overall district progresses, Windmill will assess market demand for each of the residential components to ensure that the market is supplied with the most appropriate mix of unit sizes, features and amenities.