Source: Panoramio/Photo by Martin halme

Keith Riel: Wounded Wolf

Peterborough City Councillor Keith Riel is a wounded wolf of Main Street who is haunted by the direction the world has gone in since the ‘80s. Keith Riel looks like a man whose height and stature are directly linked to the health of unions the way Samson’s strength was linked to his hair. He stares into the heart of darkness when examining a bottle of Heinz Ketchup at the dinner table and reminds his family that he remembers when Canada built things. The raspy tone of his voice suggests that he and a few cohorts regularly break into old abandoned GE plants and assemble refrigerators while howling into the night. Mr. Riel talks about the Parkway with such a venomous tone that the road must have at some point been responsible for a death in his family. The councillor is a fighter on behalf of those who feel betrayed by the new global economy.

Good suburbs are a thing

It was put to the council to approve a 55 unit subdivision that plans to mix commercial and residential zoning as a way to create a new dynamic neighborhood on Lily Lake. Near the north end of the subdivision there is space sectioned off for an elementary school and commercially oriented buildings. This is meant to create more dynamic neighborhood with its own foot traffic, rather than just another bedroom community. Councillor McWilliams was impressed and complimented the developers on their well-thought out pitch. Councillor McWilliams encouraged the city to try harder to “make doing business with us easy” through investing into developments.

That being said: the Parkway never dies. The lack of decision on this divisive project, according to city staff and developers, necessitates a traffic report. This clearly agitated Councillor Riel who asked why on earth there was another traffic report being conducted when there was already one done for the general area associated with the Parkway.

The public had their own input. Bill Templeton had misgivings about the rigidity of zoning laws applied to businesses near the north side. Mr. Templeton wants to see a neighborhood that is less dependent on driving as a way to save more money down the road with regards to the environment. Ian Aldridge encouraged commercial buildings being built right up to the sidewalk so as to create a “village main street feel” in the community. Martin Parker from Peterborough Field Naturalists stated that the presented plan for the subdivision addressed all of the group’s concerns in regard to the subdivisions impact on the environment.

Councillor Beamer stated that this is a “first class development that we can all be proud of years from now. Councillors Clarke, Vassiliadis, and Chair of the Planning Committee Lesley Parnell also came out in support of the subdivision. Councillor Parnell stated that this subdivision will “generate approximately 99 million dollars of economic drivers.” Lots on Peterborough’s very own Garden of Eden will become available in 2018.

The council is hip with the startup economy

There was a building that was zoned in a way that made a computer shop legal, but how it was classified needed to be changed. Prior to this it was commercially zoned but the owners wanted to change it to mixed use between residential and commercial for owners of the property. This in human speak means that in the future, owners of the building may establish an office for a private business.

This is objectively a boring thing to cover but should make us think about how we zone different areas in the modern context. It’s not hard to imagine a near future in which a majority of residences are zoned for mixed use as the “gig” or self-employed economy becomes dominant. Young entrepreneurs are on the rise and would be well served to get two birds stoned by owning a home and a business all in one go.