2013 Making a Difference Report

Transforming local government to better serve Guelph

More and more, I am having conversations where someone comments that “Guelph is different.” Whether I’m talking to local business owners seeking to attract talent, people who have chosen to live in Guelph, or those watching from outside what we are achieving, they all seem to agree that something different is happening here.

You’ll see that difference reflected in the stories and achievements in this report. In many cases, our success is not just in what we have accomplished, but in how we’ve accomplished it together.

At City Hall, there’s a transformation underway as the City strives to be more innovative, collaborative, and enterprising. Through open government, we are enabling people to be more involved in decision-making and finding solutions while making the most of the many resources that exist in our community.

We’re proud to share some of Guelph’s stories and accomplishments with you. On behalf of Council, congratulations to the many City employees and community partners who helped make it all possible.

Karen Farbridge

We are growing

  • 121,688 population
  • 55.6 kilometres of bike lines
  • 70+ kilometres of trails
  • 1,000 hectares of parks and open space
  • 6,924,882 transit riders
  • 2,472 construction permits
  • 27,102 building inspections
  • 300 trees planted by residents

Transformation starts on the inside

Providing outstanding municipal service and value means looking for innovative ways to improve how we deliver services to the community. Recognizing this, Council approved the role of an internal auditor and established an Audit Committee. The internal audit function brings a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes. In 2013, the City completed six audits ranging from Service Guelph to procurement controls and compliance. These audits ensure that City business remains focused on areas of greatest risk and potential savings, efficiencies and continuous service improvements.

2013 Accomplishments

  • Improved accountability and transparency by strengthening performance reporting practices 
  • Hired Corporate Driver and Safety Trainer to address Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) requirements reinforcing the City’s commitment to the safe and efficient operation of its vehicles
  • Undertook a Parking Master Plan project — an important step in developing Guelph’s Sustainable Parking Strategy to support growth in the downtown
  • Renovated Guelph’s much-loved Farmers’ Market
Organizational Excellence

Transforming government

The City is facing a challenge common to many North American cities: do more with less. To meet this challenge head-on, the City has to do business differently. Guelph must be able to attract people, partnerships and investment for our city to be economically sustainable, affordable and livable. Through the City of Guelph’s Enterprise Framework, we will proactively develop innovative ways to build prosperity, tie growth to building a diverse and vibrant economy, and manage key assets to generate profitable opportunities with partners. By seizing the advantages created by a legacy of good, forward-thinking planning and harnessing opportunities through innovative planning projects, we will shape a future that benefits everyone.

Open government changes how the City operates to improve our relationship with the community. These changes both require and allow us to become a more transparent, accountable and responsive government. But the community also has a role to play. Good ideas aren’t always generated in an office by one or two people. Ideas that resonate are born when City staff, Council and the community work together.

2013 Awards and Recognition

  • “Give Waste a New Life” Campaign: 
    • Pinnacle Award from Canadian Public Relations Society
    • Gold: Promotion and Education Award for Calendar from Municipal Waste Association 
    • Silver: Promotion and Education Award for Campaign from Municipal Waste Association 
  • Waste Diversion: Gold for Diversion Achievement & Communication and Promotion from Recycling Council of Ontario
  • Community Energy Initiative: received recognition from FCM for progress made as part of FCM’s Partners for Climate Protection Program

2013 Accomplishments

  • 31 projects were piloted under the Community Engagement Framework after the approval of the Community Engagement Policy in the second quarter of 2013
  • 15,000 households were added during the second phase of the automated cart-based waste collection conversion program 
  • 800 students participated in Local Government Week 
  • 4,000 applications were approved for Affordable Bus Pass two-year pilot program 
  • Redesigned guelph.ca, bringing the City’s website into compliance with new Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act legislative requirements
  • Successfully hosted the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ 2013 home season by adapting regular service delivery
Innovation in Local Government

Building community

There are many reasons why people choose to live and work in Guelph according to the more than 3,000 residents who shared their opinions as part of the Guelph Wellbeing engagement process. Among them are community vitality and connection, vibrant neighbourhoods and green space. Guelph Wellbeing, an example of open government in action, is an initiative that has many working together to proactively and collaboratively address our community's needs. Guelph is Canada's first municipality to align with the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, a pan-Canadian initiative focused on community wellbeing. Already a catalyst for new partnerships and cross-functional community initiatives, Guelph Wellbeing is attracting local, national and international attention.

Transforming regional transportation options

The 100 km corridor between Toronto and Waterloo, known as Canada’s Innovation Supercluster, represents one of the most significant economic growth opportunities both provincially and nationally. A key part in unleashing Guelph’s unique contribution within the region rests in the establishment of two-way GO service along the corridor. Not only will the improved service help Guelph, it will enhance regional infrastructure, improve mobility for commuters and link economies along the corridor allowing the region to realize its full potential. In 2013 Guelph and its regional partners prepared the two-way GO train service business case. It was presented to Ontario’s finance minister, the Hon. Charles Sousa and included in the 2014 provincial budget which passed in July 2014.

2013 Awards and Recognition

  • Business Friendly City Ranking: Tenth place in fDi Magazine’s “American Cities of the Future” (bi-annual)
  • Economic Potential for a Small City: Fifth place in fDi Magazine’s “American Cities of the Future” bi-annual rankings
  • Guelph Wellbeing: Impact Award from CIC Impact Summit
  • Guelph Downtown Secondary Plan: Excellence in Planning Award from Ontario Professional Planners Institute
  • Riverside Park: Readers’ Choice Award from Guelph Tribune
  • Taste Real Culinary Tourism Program: First place Brand Identity from the Economic Development Association of Canada

2013 Accomplishments

  • 16 projects, with a total City contribution of $208,383, were awarded under the Downtown Community Improvement Plan investment program which is designed to stimulate investment in the Downtown core and help achieve positive change for the community
  • 345 residential units and commercial spaces were developed in Guelph’s downtown (Market Commons, 5 Gordon Street; Riverhouse, 148 MacDonnell Street; 5 Arthur Street and 150 Wellington Street E, Marsh Tire)
  • 12 independent opportunities were used to promote Guelph as an investment-ready city
  • 16,000 visits and close to 40,000 page views to the Guelph Wellington Immigration Portal from around the world, which will help to attract and retain immigrants in Guelph and Wellington County
  • Launched a revised, community-based Business Retention and Expansion Program to identify local business issues and assist business investors in addressing expansion with the goal of furthering economic development within the community
  • 11 playgrounds received retrofitted equipment encouraging children to play and enjoy the outdoors
  • 3.75 km of trail were constructed at Northern Heights, Victoriaview North and Watson Creek subdivisions, and at Eastview Park as part of the Guelph Trail Master Plan touching the lives of residents throughout the city
  • Completed Cycling Master Plan including the implementation of the Bicycle-Friendly Guelph initiative to help reach our goal to triple the number of daily cycling trips by the year 2018
Building community

Transforming our financial future

The City of Guelph has a strong financial management framework and policies that drive transparent and accountable financial decisions, and balance quality public services with affordability for Guelph taxpayers. The City’s AA+ credit rating —upgraded in 2013— reaffirms our belief that the City of Guelph’s financial position is not only healthy, it’s getting stronger.

The following highlights the City’s 2013 Tax-Supported and Non Tax Supported expenditures (value in millions). For additional details on the City’s budget, visit guelph.ca/budget.

Tax supported (based on 2013 expenditures  – value in millions)
Service Area Gross expenditure Net expenditure
CAO, Mayor and Council $2.1 $1.9
Operations, Transit and Emergency Services $103.5 $54.2
Planning, Building, Engineering and Environment $33.8 $14.6
Community and Social Services $28.8 $16.8
Corporate and Human Resources $13.8 $9.3
Police $36.6 $34
Library $8.5 $8
Social Services, Housing and Public Health $49.2 $25
Finance and Enterprise $5.6 $3.6
Grants and Capital Projects $111.5 $31.6
Total $393.4 $199
Non tax supported (based on 2013 expenditures  – value in millions)
Service Area Gross Expenditure Net Expenditure
Water and Wastewater $54.1 $-
Ontario Building Code $3.3 $-
Court Services $3.3 $-
Total $60.7 $-
Financial Management