Member of Parliament Lloyd Longfield joined Mayor Cam Guthrie on Wednesday to announce $175,000 in federal government funding to help complete sustainable planning for the Baker District Redevelopment initiative.
Longfield, Guthrie and the chief executive of the Windmill Development Group, Jonathan Westeinde held a press conference at City Hall to make the announcement, a move Westeinde said was “very critical funding at the right time.”
The money will assist the completion of a Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan for the $300 million redevelopment project in downtown Guelph.
The project has gone through a process lasting over a decade to tear down the Baker St. parking lot and rebuild it as a multi-use space primarily featuring the next home of the Guelph Public Library’s main branch.
Guthrie stressed that the development is “not just about a library” or downtown but “the whole community” and that the Baker District will be “as sustainable as possible” and include “smart building technologies”.
Westeinde stressed that the funding from the Liberal government was essential to the project, which is still in relatively early stages. Building is set to start by 2024, according to the development’s timeline.
“I can’t underestimate the importance of that capital at this stage of a development because this where you need the most patience and you need the ability to explore as much as you can,” the developer told gathered city staff and reporters.
Guthrie and Westeinde stressed the importance of community involvement in the redevelopment. Residents can view the most recent blueprints for the project during dual open houses — 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. — on May 29 at the River Run Centre.