News Release

City may seek financial assistance from Province for frozen pipes

Guelph, ON, May 4, 2015—The City is seeking Council’s approval to request funding from the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program after frozen underground pipes affected water service to 376 customers in Guelph. Staff will bring the request to Council at its meeting May 11 .

This winter’s frozen pipe emergency was the largest since 1993 when almost 400 customers were affected. In 2014, 85 customers were affected by frozen pipes.

“This event was unprecedented—not only the number of people affected, but the speed at which the reports came in,” said Peter Busatto, Water Services plant manager. “After the cold snap on the Family Day long weekend, we had an influx of calls and were quickly thrown into an emergency response to ensure people had access to water.”

The City responded with immediate relief through the frozen water assistance program which provided bottled water for drinking and cooking, and access to showers and laundry facilities. The next step was to get affected customers connected to temporary service lines as quickly as possible. Continued cold weather delayed these efforts—some temporary lines froze within minutes of being connected—but by mid-March, almost all affected customers had water for showers and toilet flushing.

Response costs expected to be more than $640,000

The City is estimating total response costs—including watermain breaks—at $641,014. Costs include labour and overtime costs ($207,575), equipment including hoses for temporary lines ($14,440), and goods and services including the costs of the frozen water assistance program, contracted support of plumbers, and rentals of specialized digging and thawing equipment ($419,000).

“Guelph wasn’t alone in experiencing unusually high numbers of frozen pipes, and like other communities, is now managing the financial result of response efforts,” said Busatto. “We continue to follow reports from other cities in Ontario that were affected by February’s record-breaking low temperatures. Much like the major ice storm in December 2013, this weather–related issue has put many municipalities under financial strain.”

City staff will adjust work plans and reallocate funds to ease overall budget impacts. Reserve funding will also be used to help cover frozen pipe response costs as needed. Provincial support would maintain reserve funds which are used to protect against high rate increases.

Water service has returned to normal

All pipes have thawed and regular water service has been restored throughout the city. About 10 customers continue to access water through temporary lines due to leaking household pipes. Once pipes are repaired, the remaining temporary lines will be removed. The City will look at programs and policies to help prevent and respond to frozen pipes next winter, including an expansion of its freeze prevention program which protected over 140 customers from frozen pipes this year.

“We were amazed at how resilient our community was during this issue,” remarked Busatto. “Not only did neighbours, friends and family step up to help those who were affected, but even those affected helped others. In my many years with Water Services I don’t recall ever seeing such great community spirit before—we’re so grateful for everyone’s patience and understanding.”

For more information

Peter Busatto, Plant Manager
Water Services
519-822-1260 extension 2165

Guelph celebrates In Flanders Fields through Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge

GUELPH, ON, April 27, 2015 –  The Honourable William Winegard will read “In Flanders Fields” at tonight’s meeting of Guelph City Council, marking the 100th anniversary of the poem and Guelph’s participation in the Canada-wide Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge.

Guelph is one of about 70 communities across Canada participating in the Challenge, which is a national celebration of UNESCO’s World Poetry Day (March 21) and National Poetry Month in April. Begun in 2012, the Challenge is an annual initiative of the League of Canadian Poets through which municipal councils across Canada open their Council meetings with a reading from a local poet. Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi issued the Challenge this year.

“For this year’s Challenge, it seemed natural to take this opportunity to honour one of Guelph’s most beloved poets, John McCrae, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the writing of In Flanders Fields,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie. “The Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge celebrates the contributions of poems, poets and writers to Canada’s cultural life. What better example of this than Guelph’s own John McCrae, whose seminal poem is revered the world over.”

He added, “Council is thrilled to welcome William Winegard to our meeting tonight. I can’t think of a more fitting person to do a reading of In Flanders Fields.”

The Honourable William Winegard, P.C., O.C., PhD is the Honorary Chair of the fundraising committee for Guelph’s new LCol. John McCrae statue, to be unveiled at the Guelph Civic Museum on June 25. He served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1942-1945, becoming the youngest qualified navigating officer in the Canadian Navy. One of the University of Guelph’s founding presidents, Winegard served as Guelph’s Member of Parliament and a Minister of the Crown, and was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1998.

This is the fourth year the City of Guelph has participated in the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge.

A list of events and exhibits celebrating In Flanders Fields at 100 can be found at

For more information:
Kate Sullivan
Communications Assistant
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2558

Mayor Guthrie highlights liveability, affordability in first State of the City address

GUELPH, ON, April 24, 2015 – In his first State of the City address since being elected Guelph’s Mayor, Cam Guthrie said Guelph needs to maintain its high quality of life while being an affordable place to raise a family and run a business.

“Some would have you believe that Guelph faces a choice: we can be a great city with high taxes, or we can be an affordable city with few services and amenities. I reject that. I believe Guelph can be a great city that is also affordable,” Mayor Guthrie said.

In his remarks, Mayor Guthrie set out his vision for achieving affordability by attracting jobs and investment; focusing on excellent core municipal services that deliver value for tax dollars; achieving efficiencies and innovations in City operations; and setting priorities through Council’s shared agenda process.

He pointed to renewed momentum in the City’s Integrated Operational Review (IOR) as an important step in attracting business and development to the city, and challenged businesses to share their experiences publicly when they see positive changes at City Hall.

“As Mayor, I want to make sure everyone knows what Guelph has to offer – and I want more entrepreneurs knocking on our door. And rest assured, the City will open that door for you,” he said.

Mayor Guthrie applauded City employees who provided exceptional customer service in responding to a record number of frozen water pipes this winter, noting that affected residents and businesses “offered more “thank yous” than I have ever seen in my time on Council.” He also recognized employees who have contributed ideas for efficiencies and improvements to City operations, saying, “employees are a great resource in building a liveable and affordable city.”

The mayor also issued a challenge to local businesses to get involved in efforts to eliminate poverty in the community, highlighting Circles Guelph-Wellington as one example of an organization that helps people move from poverty to sustainability.

A key theme of the address was the need for Council, City staff, and people and businesses to work together. “It’s only by working together as a collective “we” that we can make positive change for the city of Guelph,” he said. “There are a lot of important issues ahead and a lot of stakeholders to be involved along the way. With my Council colleagues, with the City’s staff, and with the people of the community – we will help make Guelph all that it can be.”

The Mayor’s State of the City breakfast is an annual event hosted by the Guelph Chamber of Commerce.

The complete text of Mayor Guthrie’s State of the City address can be found on the Mayor’s Office page at

For more information
Kate Sullivan
Communications Assistant
Mayor’s Office
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2558

City of Guelph honoured for excellent communications

Communications plan for 2014 election awarded Gold Quill Excellence Award

Guelph, ON, April 21, 2015 – The City Guelph has been honoured for excellence in communications by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

The City’s 2014 municipal election communications plan—My Guelph, My Vote—which focused on ensuring residents were aware of and involved in the municipal voting process, has been awarded an IABC 2015 Gold Quill Excellence Award in the government communication programs (communications management) category. The award honours the dedication, innovation and passion of communicators on a global scale, and recognizes excellence in strategic communications.

Communications Officer Alison Thompson, who led the implementations efforts, will accept the award on the City’s behalf in June.

“This communications plan embodies the City of Guelph’s commitment to communications excellence and two-way communications,” says Guelph’s CAO Ann Pappert. “It honours our work to raise the bar in local government—in part by encouraging citizens to become part of a conversation. And just as importantly, it generated results—namely, an 11 per cent increase in voter turnout over 2010.”

As one of the most prestigious awards programs in the industry, the IABC Gold Quill Awards honour communication skills in research, management, training and education, public relations programs, and tactics created and implemented by communicators and organizations from all sectors of the communications profession, globally: government, business, agency, trade associations and not-for-profit organizations. The City of Guelph applied for the award in early January.

The City of Guelph has earned 10 awards for communications excellence in recent years, including this, its first-ever Gold Quill.

For more information

Tara Sprigg, General Manager, Corporate Communications and Customer Service
Corporate Services
519-822-1260 extension 2610


Two-way all-day GO train is an integral part of Ontario budget, say mayors

Brampton, ON, April 17, 2015 - Two-way all-day GO rail service linking Toronto to Brampton-Guelph-Kitchener-Waterloo is an integral component of the 2015 Ontario budget and 10-year capital plan, say the mayors of these communities.

Today’s Provincial announcement of its increased investment to improve GO Transit service along all corridors is a significant step to connect people and improve the economy.

Canada’s Innovation Supercluster – linking Toronto to Brampton-Guelph-Kitchener-Waterloo – is comparable to the world’s largest innovation centre in California’s Silicon Valley. There is strong support for this initiative from significant private sector innovators along the Toronto to Kitchener rail corridor. Opportunities along the corridor will help both the Province and these key Ontario communities better compete for global talent and innovative companies.

The Innovation Supercluster mayors recently met with Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure; and Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation to discuss their partnership and its benefits to Ontario.

A business case and supporting video were presented at these meetings, to show how connecting their regional economies by a streamlined, efficient transit mode supports key Provincial priorities of economic prosperity, quality of life, and environmental stewardship.

Ontario’s 2015 budget will be released on April 23, 2015.

Benefit highlights

  • There are 30,000 local tech workers in Waterloo Region. 34 per cent commute from Toronto/GTA.
  • Building communities: $4 B in construction potential
  • Leverages recent $1.2 B investment in Union Pearson Express
  • Intensifying development activity at all three of Brampton’s GO rail mobility hubs is expected to attract 37,900 new jobs and 105,400 new residents by 2041
  • Opportunity to connect 13,000 companies and attract 3,000 innovation start-ups
  • Potential for 40,000 new jobs in the innovation sector
  • $344 M saved in commuter and environmental costs



“I am encouraged by the Province’s recognition of the importance of two-way all-day GO rail service to the economic growth of the GTHA municipalities on this line. When communities work together we can achieve great things. Brampton looks forward to continued commitment in transit infrastructure by the federal and provincial governments.” Linda Jeffrey, Mayor – City of Brampton

“Efficient, affordable and reliable transportation options gives employers greater access to talented employees, gives individuals more choices of where to work, and provides families with improved work-life balance; all of which generates greater economic activity and healthier communities. A 2014 report by the cities of Guelph, Kitchener and Waterloo indicates that a technology ecosystem of 12,800 companies with over 205,000 employees could be created simply connecting Union Station, Pearson Airport, Brampton, Guelph and Kitchener.”
Jaipaul Massey-Singh, Chair – Brampton Board of Trade

“I’m pleased that the Province has recognized the strong business case for two-way all-day GO train service and has taken positive steps to make it a reality. It’s my hope that the Province will signal its full commitment as part of the 2015 Ontario budget.”
Cam Guthrie, Mayor – City of Guelph

“Infrastructure that connects people to jobs is critical to the economic future of this province. Now is the time to purposefully build a system that enables companies to grow and enable innovation to thrive. With two-way all-day GO rail service, an integrated regional economy that spans from Toronto to Brampton-Guelph-Kitchener through Waterloo will create a globally competitive tech environment that is comparable to Silicon Valley, connecting 13,000 companies, attracting 3,000 startups and creating over 40,000 new jobs.”
Kithio Mwanzia, President & CEO – Guelph Chamber of Commerce

“It’s great to see the government continuing to move forward on improvements to urban commuter rail across Ontario. We’ve heard loud and clear on this from Kitchener and Waterloo’s business leaders – we need the west-bound morning GO Train up and running by 2016. Every day, more than 10,000 workers are commuting from Toronto and the GTA into our community and companies are chartering private busses to address this. But this is not a sustainable model and the future prosperity of the entire corridor depends on two-way urban commuter rail.” Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor – City of Kitchener

“The City of Waterloo is delighted that Metrolinx will be consulting with municipalities outside the GTA about the potential to expand its mandate beyond the GTA.”
Dave Jaworsky, Mayor – City of Waterloo

“Fast, efficient two-way all-day GO rail service is critical to employers’ ability to attract and retain knowledge workers and ability to grow and expand operations. Moving people matters. Improved GO service is essential to our ability to compete globally.”
John Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer – D2L

Media contacts

City of Brampton
Megan Ball, Media Coordinator
Strategic Communications

City of Kitchener
Declan Kelly, Communications & Marketing Associate
Corporate Communications & Marketing
519-741-2200 extension 7191

City of Guelph
Tara Sprigg, General Manager
Corporate Communications and Customer Service
519-822-1260 extension 2610

City of Waterloo
Megan Harris, Director
Communications and Marketing, Corporate Services

Niska Road bridge to be closed for repairs April 20–May 1

Guelph, ON, April 14, 2015—Following a recent inspection, deck boards on the Niska Road bridge will be replaced beginning April 20. These repairs will keep the bridge in service while the City completes the Environmental Assessment and determines a permanent solution for Niska Road and the bridge.

“During regular spring road patrols, City staff noticed flaws in the deck boards on the Niska Road bridge,” noted Kealy Dedman, General Manager Engineering and Capital Infrastructure Services. “A bridge management consultant was hired to assess damage to the deck and recommended replacement of the boards.”

Temporary repairs were completed on March 9 and April 1, 2015.

The bridge will be closed for repairs from April 20 to May 1, 2015. During the bridge closure and repairs, the scheduled 2015 bridge condition assessment will be undertaken.

For more information about the road closure visit
For more information about the Niska Road Environmental Assessment visit

For more information

Kealy Dedman, General Manager
Engineering and Capital Infrastructure Services
519-822-1260 extension 2248

Guelph to clean up construction site where drums were found

Specialized contractor to remove drums and debris in construction zone

Guelph, ON, April 13, 2015 – The City has hired a qualified remediation contractor to remove buried materials from the construction site where crews found eight drums of chemicals last September. Cleanup activities are scheduled to start in May and will take two to three weeks to complete.

Last fall, the City removed the drums, the liquid they contained and the affected soil. Then the City conducted detailed geophysical scans and analyzed the remaining soil to determine the best way to remove any additional buried materials from the construction area.

Both the site examination report and the City’s Remediation Action Plan have been reviewed by the  Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). The MOECC will also review the spill response plan before work begins on the site.

“Crews will take all necessary precautions to avoid further leakage as buried materials and affected soil are removed, contained and transported for safe disposal,” said Kealy Dedman, City Engineer. “It is hard to say how long it may take, but we’re planning to start cleanup activities in May and then resume construction of the watermain.”

The City’s action plan requires any additional drums and other debris to be carefully removed from the construction zone. The plan also includes erosion and dust control measures, ground and surface water management activities, spill response protocols and contingency plans, and a site-specific health and safety plan.

After removing buried materials along the project route, the contractor will install a fabric liner. The watermain will be placed on top of the liner and the area will be filled using clean soil.

The City will advise area residents before any activity resumes on the site. Anyone who experiences odours or sees a spill during the work can call the MOECC Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060.

While construction of this section was paused, crews continued working on other parts of the Paisley-Clythe watermain project. The completion time for the entire project has not changed significantly, and updates on the City’s progress are posted at

Discovering the drums

On September 2 and 3, eight 170-litre (45-gallon) drums of chemicals were found on a construction site near the Wellington/Hanlon interchange. The City contained the liquid and affected soil immediately and notified the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). The City used clean soil to back fill the area. The liquid was transported from the site for disposal on September 5 and affected soil was transported for disposal on September 9 and 10.


Media contact

Stacey Hare, Senior Communications Officer
Corporate Communications
519-822-1260  extension 2611

City invites artists to apply for 2015 Artist in Residence program

Guelph, ON, April 13, 2015 – Artists are invited to submit proposals to the City of Guelph’s 2015 Artist in Residence program.

Piloted last year as the Artist in the Community program, this cultural initiative engages the community in creative experiences and embeds artistic activity in a variety of public spaces.

This year, drawing inspiration from the theme of remembrance and Lt. Col. John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields, the successful applicant will develop a community art project that will enhance the commemorative experience for residents and visitors exploring Guelph’s downtown core.

“The Artist in Residence program is an exciting opportunity for established artists in and outside of our city. We look forward to seeing the inventive ideas for enlivening our downtown and engaging the community,” says Sally Wismer, chair of the City’s Public Art Advisory Committee.

She adds, “Our hope is that the activity generated through this year’s program will encourage residents and visitors to experience the sights, sounds, character, and history of the downtown core.”

Professional artists who work in various mediums or disciplines and have a history of public presentation, exhibition and/or publishing are invited to apply for the program by May 11. The 2015 Artist in Residence will be selected by City staff and members of the City’s Public Art Committee.

Application information is posted on the City’s website at

About the City of Guelph Artist in Residence program

The City of Guelph Artist in Residence program is an initiative of the City’s department of Culture, Tourism and Community Investments, and is guided by the Council-appointed Public Art Advisory Committee. The goal of the program is to broaden the community experience of the arts through creative activity in public spaces and to enhance community well-being through access to and participation in cultural programming.

For more information

Jen Rafter
Cultural Program and Event Coordinator
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2629




City launches new in-home safety tool for vulnerable residents

File of Life program gives emergency responders access to patient medical history

Guelph, ON, April 10, 2015 – The City of Guelph’s emergency services has launched a new in-home safety tool for Guelph and Wellington County residents who have serious or complicated medical histories.

The File of Life program, which replaces Vial for Life, gives emergency first responders quick access to a patient’s medical history during an emergency.

In the past a patient’s medical history was written on a piece of paper and placed inside a medicine bottle stored in the fridge. A Vial for Life fridge magnet would indicate to an emergency first responder of its existence. However, the medicine bottle’s location wasn’t always easy to find.

With the new program, supported by Safe Communities Guelph/Eramosa Township, Guelph Health Link, Community Care Access Centre, and Canadian Mental Health, residents record critical medical information on a magnet that is placed on the outside of the fridge—a place that is highly visible to an emergency first responder.

“When responding to a 9-1-1 call there are times when a patient’s medical history is undetermined due to a variety of factors such an intoxication, unconsciousness, or dementia. The File of Life information provides paramedics, police, and firefighters with quick and easy access to a patient’s medical history including pre-exiting medical conditions, medication types, and known allergies. With this knowledge emergency first responders can administer the most appropriate medical care based on a patient’s health information,” says Leanne Swantko, deputy chief of Guelph-Wellington Emergency Medical Service.

She adds, “The Vial for Life program will still be recognized by emergency first responders, but residents are encouraged to use the new File for Life fridge magnet.”

Residents can pick up a File of Life magnet at the City’s annual Emergency Preparedness Day on May 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the West End Community Centre, 21 Imperial Road South.

Magnets are also available at the Clair Road Emergency Services Centre, various doctor’s offices, pharmacies, Guelph Independent Living, and Wellington Social Housing facilities. In Guelph/Eramosa Township, residents can call Robbin Wood, chair of Safe Communities, at 519-825-6994 to request a magnet which will be delivered to their residence.

The File for Life program was initially funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care as part of the City’s one time community paramedicine grant. The program has also received financial support from Guelph Health Link through the purchase of additional File for Life magnets.

For more information

Leanne Swantko
Deputy Chief
Guelph-Wellington Emergency Medical Service
519-822-1260 extension 2105


In Flanders field… a poetic reflection

Guelph, ON – The Guelph Public Library (GPL) is commemorating the 100th anniversary of John McCrae’s famous In Flanders Field poem with a reflective poetry contest. Open to all ages, everyone is encouraged to submit ONE piece of poetry reflecting what McCrae’s poem means to you. All poetic styles will be accepted at all library locations until 5:00 PM on Saturday, May 23, 2015.

Prizes will be awarded in three categories; children, teen and adult. Local John McCrae expert and Guelph Museums’ curator, Bev Dietrich, Friends of the Guelph Public Library executive member and writer, Mary Mulholland, and the library’s very own archivist and poet, Darcy Hiltz will be judging the submissions on originality, accuracy of historical information, and the theme of remembrance.

What are you waiting for? Pick up an ‘In Flanders Field…a Poetic Reflection’ contest entry form at any Guelph Public Library location or online at Together let’s support #HistoryLivesHere in our royal city by sharing our remembrance for this historic poem and Guelph’s heritage!

For more information

Lisa Cunningham, GPL Communications 519-824-6220 extension 239