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 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.

Watch the presentation and ask any questions you have here.

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    A Guelph Tribune article dated Thursday, June 18th states that 12% of the 125-135 residential units will be marked for "affordable housing", but what percentage of units will be social housing, which is vastly different from affordable housing? I'm aware The County of Wellington is in control of social housing, but what conversations have taken place between the City of Guelph and The County of Wellington, if at all? I know the City once had a much closer relationship with The County when it came to social housing, what has the City done to re-build that? This library will be located less than a 5 minute walk from the Guelph Community Health Centre, where many people in need of social housing also access many different services provided in this building. It will also be a 5 min walk to Guelph Central Station, which many people from low-income backgrounds rely on for transportation. "Affordable Housing" is defined as being "20% below market value" which for many people, myself included, is not affordable at all. Montreal's Mayor has committed to not approving any new developments that do not include a minimum of 30% social housing, why hasn't Guelph done the same? This new library would be a perfect opportunity for that while helping to avoid gentrification.

    Artemisia Asked 3 months ago

    The Baker District includes two residential towers; 11 and 14 storeys with about 295–315 units in total. At least 12 per cent of the units are planned to be affordable housing. As outlined in the Urban Design Master Plan, there will be 31 affordable units available: 26 one-bed, and five one-bed or two-bed. The housing options presented include ownership and rental (or a mix of). As the Baker District project is a public-private partnership, only affordable, not social, housing units are included.


    Wellington County, as the lead social service agency for Guelph, leads social housing initiatives. The City and the County work closely together, through the Mayor’s Taskforce on Permanent Supportive Housing, to create other housing options in our community. Since COVID-19, our partnerships have strengthened and together we are advocating to other levels of government for funding and supports to improve social housing options in the Guelph area.


    Guelph has a citywide 30 per cent affordable housing target (25 per cent ownership, 1 per cent affordable primary rental and 4 per cent affordable secondary rental). We recognize the need to have affordable housing choices throughout the city and there are a number of private and not-for-profit housing projects in the development stage looking to address all levels of need, and not only housing options at 80 per cent of market rent.


    Our Strategic Plan: Guelph. Future ready. sets clear directions for the City to help increase the availability of housing that meets our community’s needs. This includes advocating for increased funding from federal and provincial governments, and working with partners to create smart programs and policies that enable more people to obtain housing in Guelph.

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    What is being done to accommodate the outdoor community hub for the poor and homeless at the east end of the parking lot between the two building to come down? This area is used regularly for food distribution by Ed Pickersgill as the home of his The Bench project. It is a community gathering place for those who have nowhere else to go. Trash in the area is cleaned up by people who participate. How will this tremendous community program be accommodated during and following construction?

    bennett.bruce Asked 3 months ago

    Windmill will look into making some form of accommodation for The Bench Project. We were not previously aware of its existence but fully support local community initiatives under our One Planet Living principles. The new public square could accommodate similar opportunities with the added benefit of additional community focused resources; however programming of the square will be under the sole control of the City’s Parks Department.

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    What is the City doing to tie the project to the downtown core? Pedestrian access from the south of the development to St George's square, as shown in slide 12 of the presentation, is through "The Walkway" and the BMO parking lot. Both of these are inadequate without changes. Is the City working with the property owners? The Walkway has often reeked of urine in the past and it is practically hidden from the Square end. Design of access to Chapel Ln from the Square is deeply flawed. The view through the BMO parking lot is impeded by large trees, with a walkway available only through a narrow drive connecting the lot to Chapel Ln. Is all electrical distribution along Chapel Ln and across the Baker St. parking lot being buried as part of the development? With the utility pole gone in the corner by the BMO parking lot, removal of the retaining wall and some trees, and cooperation from BMO this area could serve as a useful and welcoming pedestrian corridor connecting the development to downtown. Flow-through pedestrian access from Library Lane to the Square along the face of the proposed new retail in the South Block would significantly improve the appeal of this retail space and connect it to downtown. As it stands, the development is isolated from pedestrian traffic and focused on vehicle access. Guelph does not need another residential development downtown that is visually and practically isolated from the downtown core.

    bennett.bruce Asked 3 months ago

    Our shared goal with the City is to increase connectivity of the Baker District to the surrounding downtown at all access points.    


    We also consider pedestrian access from the south to be very important and have designed for a new southern gateway into the Baker District as best we can within the parcels of our domain. The design considers a framework for future improvements by the city to complete these elements through their own capital improvements along Chapel Lane and possible future land acquisitions. 


    At the same time,  one of the City’s goals for the project is to help anchor the North part of the Downtown core along Wyndham with the new library. A core idea is to help enliven the beautiful historic buildings and their uses along Wyndham by drawing pedestrian and bike traffic North to the new urban square and library. As a result, fostering the revitalization of Wyndham Street is a major factor in the design considerations.

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    Looks great. Make it all taller.

    voda Asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your positive feedback. The height of the buildings are limited by the City’s zoning by-laws.

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    *This question was originally asked in the Comments Section by user Aberto. The name "library -lane"; is this the most imaginative name one could think up? Can't we actually name it after something that shows our diversity (please no more names after dead, white, European men, or anglo-saxon places). The project promises to be sensitive to Indigenous backgrounds and histories, so why can't we name it after someting like that? How about Attawandaron Avenue? Why does the Dominion Trust Building get have a monstrously oversized chunk of land dedicated to... the car? As we transition to away from a carbon obsessed culture, we will also have to transition away from the reverence towards the car. The dedication of so much surface land to something as banal a employee's cars is a certain shortfall of this design and hampers the overall site. This seems a direct refutation of the 2.3 Sustainable Urban Design principles, part 10 - which calls for a zero carbon ideology to be considered. A massive amount of ground acreage dedicated to a car in their parking lot is hardly promoting of a zero-carbon ideology. The site could be far more pedestrian, environment, and design-friendly if the city used its eminent domain to also expropriate the parking lot from the Dominion Trust Building's owners, along with 146, and 166 Wyndham, and integrate the lot into the plan as for anything other than parking.The mention of narrowing the lanes of upper Wyndham in this regard is encouraging and welcome.Affordable housing units need to be strictly controlled in order to not become ghetto-ised, nor to be used for private interests to turn profits. Studies of other cities failuires in this regard gives us a number of safeguards that need to be integrated into the plan. This means inherent design principles including: units must be dispersed throughout the structure and not with separations; that is no separate elevators, access, nor entrances for these units. Likewise units must not be on separate floors from for-profit units. Affordable rental prices need to be completely controlled by public entities, and not influenced by, nor beholden to, any private shareholders. Rental prices need to be determined by a fixed formula that calculates rent as a percentage (preferably 25%) of the poverty line. Affordable units must also be maintained with the same vigour, schedules, and investment as for-profit units. Without such safeguards built-in to the actual project, the project will do little to alleviate our city's chronic homelessness and and housing shortage problems.

    3 months ago

    Library Lane is not the official name for the new road but simply a place holder so that the numerous people involved with the development have a common reference. The final name will be selected in consultation with the City of Guelph.


    While the original scope of the project envisioned by the City of Guelph included the redevelopment of the parking lot at the rear of the Dominion Trust Building, which is owned by Wellington County, mutually agreeable terms for the integration of that parking into the overall development site could not be agreed between the parties resulting in the current design. There is flexibility built into the current site plan so that the area could be integrated into the development in the future should the parties come to an agreement to do so.


    Your feedback on how the affordable housing portion of the residential development is appreciated. Windmill envisages a mixed-use model similar to what you propose. This is however a private sector project that will rely on support/grants from government and non-government agencies to deliver the affordable component. Windmill also has to balance all its desired social and environmental goals and objectives derived from the One Planet Living model to achieve a successful outcome for all parties.

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    *This question was originally asked in the Comments Section by user Icarus. For the residents of 55 Yarmouth St, when this proposed project is finished we will be overlooked and over shadowed by the overlarge structures. At present our outlook is east where we see the sun rise and sun set without interruption. Same applies to the moon progressing through the sky. The rest of the outlook is made up of views of trees and St. George's church steeple. These were the selling points of our decision to purchase. All this is being stolen from us without our consent.The bylaws governing the stealing of light are being contravened by this ill thought out scheme.In the original plan the buildings were lower and the underground parking was to be constructed. What happened to these plans?We would like our concerns addressed to our satisfaction.Why do we need new retail when so much of retail business and Quebec Street is half empty? And where are the parking spaces to attract people to the downtown core? Please rethink this poorly conceived scheme.

    3 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.  In fact, the original massing plan proposed by the City in the RFP document showed the north tower on a north-south axis with its longest façade facing Yarmouth Street.  Our current proposal rotates the building 90 degrees to an east-west orientation with its shortest façade facing Yarmouth which will allow considerably more daylight penetration to your building than would have been the case had we followed the original massing design.


    Parking is being relocated underground to replace the current public parking on the surface lot.   This public parking component will serve downtown businesses as well as library patrons.  Retail uses are limited to the ground floor of the south building in order to animate the street and provide some services for the new residents.

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    Will the library building and public square be owned by the city? Despite the proposed architectural separation, I'm concerned about the combination of a public amenity (the library) with for-profit (and thus likely unaffordable) housing. Is it possible for the fraction of affordable housing to be raised above 12%? How will the affordable housing be operated? Also, what will happen to the existing main library?

    Andrew K Asked 3 months ago

    The library,  urban square and public parking below grade will all be owned by the city.  The residential tower above will be set back and separated architecturally from the library podium and will have its own separate entrance from Baker Street. 


    Windmill committed to building up to 12% affordable housing with suitable financial support from various levels of government and non-government grants and incentives. If there are enough grants and incentives to build more than 12% of the residential units as affordable, Windmill will give that serious consideration. In Windmill’s commitment to the ten principles of One Planet Living, we are also balancing other social priorities and environmental requirements that are part of the development.  Since we haven’t yet determined who the affordable housing provider will be it is premature to comment on how that component would be managed. 


    It is beyond Windmill’s scope to comment on future uses of the existing library property.  That decision will be made by the City and/or the Library Board.

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    Does this development include affordable housing? If not how are you going to deal with the effects of Guelph being further gentrified, pushing more people to the edges of the city or the country.

    Bre Asked 3 months ago

    The Baker District will be a complete community, providing both rental and condominium units and will provide housing that serves a range of income levels with various unit types.  The diverse population will add to the downtown population base and thus meet the City’s desire to revitalize the downtown and its businesses.  Adding new housing  to the downtown will create more supply so that the increasing demand does not drive up prices and thus maintains affordability in this market.

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    How do you plan to create more parking spaces since you will be building on one of few parking areas in downtown guelph? There is so limited parking as it is.

    Bre Asked 3 months ago

    We anticipate a net gain of Downtown parking spaces upon completion of the development. The development will be adding new outdoor spaces along the new east-west road and we have planned for two levels of below grade parking extending under the footprint of the entire development site. The final number of parking stalls will be determined at the time the final construction drawings are approved by the City and Windmill.

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    *This question was originally asked in the Comments Section by Evan Ferrari. Thank you for this. it's sounds like it's moving in the right direction. I have comments/questions in three different areas: 1 - Wellington County / Dominion Bldg / former post office Perhaps this has been considered already, however, this appears to be a good place to raise this issue.The County building parking area considerably restricts the development as it appears to 'squeeze' the flow of people to and from Library Lane and Baker Court. Obviously the city doesn't own the property. However, has any consideration been made to discuss opportunities of partnering with the County to acquire some (or all) of this parking land in exchange for either underground parking or commercial space within the development? Cost is obviously a consideration here, but this type of an approach could potentially provide a win/win/ win situation for the City, County and the broader community. 2 - Ecofootprinting - I'm encouraged that Food, Energy and Carbon (buildings) and Transportation are to be addressed in this plan. Can you elaborate how that will be accomplished? Will food be based on a circular food system? Will building energy use be PassiveHouse or Net Zero Energy and how will transportation be accommodated above and beyond what was in the presentation? 3 - Communication and language - While I found the presentation very informative, it appeared to be written by planners and architects and for planners and architects. Using this approach to engage a broad cross section of the community could prove to be inaccessible to many. A further point regarding language (paraphrasing here): 'closing Library Lane to traffic'. How we characterize our intentions in language can be very telling. Using language like this has the potential to inflame divisions in how our community should be planned. I understand that pedestrians and bicycles are considered 'traffic'. Furthermore, under the highway traffic act that bicycles are considered vehicles. It may be worth considering re-shaping this to something like: opening Library Lane to cyclists and pedestrians while ensuring emergency and accessibility vehicles have good access. Referring to "closing" a street can inflame differences rather than seek to find consensus. Thanks for the opportunity to comment. I look forward to your responses.

    3 months ago

    The RFP and the original plan did assume the inclusion of the County parking lot land but currently the County is not willing to be part of the development.  The current plan has been designed with the flexibility to include the parking lot as part of the project in the future should the situation change and several options have been examined to demonstrate how it could be incorporated into the urban design when circumstances permit. 

    We’re happy to hear you’re encouraged by the Baker District’s focus on Food, Carbon and Transportation—we’re excited about it, too. Near the end of the summer, we will be publishing the Baker District’s sustainability plan, called the One Planet Living Action Plan. This Plan outlines our desired sustainability outcomes for the site and how we intend to achieve those outcomes (i.e. specific strategies and performance requirements). Generally speaking, however, our objectives for Food, Carbon and Transportation are as follows:

    Food

    Promote sustainable, humane farming and healthy diets that are high in local, seasonal, organic food and vegetable protein.

    Carbon

    Make buildings energy efficient and supply all energy with renewables.

    Transportation

    Reduce the need to travel, and encourage walking, cycling and low carbon transport.

    Stay tuned for the release of the Baker District’s One Planet Living Action Plan, where you’ll find further information about the specific sustainability strategies the District will strive to achieve.