Guelph-Wellington to create Canada’s first food smart community

Guelph, Ont., Oct. 16, 2018 – The City of Guelph and County of Wellington are partners in Our Food Future, a bold vision of a sustainable and thriving food economy that contributes new jobs, and values the planet, health, equity and dignity for everyone. Today, to coincide with World Food Day—an event that increases awareness of world hunger and inspires solutions for world change—the partners are launching a public awareness campaign and period of engagement with Guelph and Wellington communities.

Through community collaborations and the use of data, technology and the wealth of expertise in the region, Our Food Future will transform Guelph-Wellington into Canada’s first circular food economy, and achieve three bold goals:

  • 50% increase in access to affordable, nutritious food;
  • 50 new circular food business and collaboration opportunities; and
  • 50% increase in economic revenues by reducing or transforming food waste.

Guelph-Wellington is also placing its Our Food Future vision at the heart of their joint proposal for Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge. The proposal was selected as one of 10 awarded $250,000 to further develop its bid, due March 5, 2019, for a chance to win the $10 million prize.

To inform their bid and define the Our Food Future vision, County and City food leaders have engaged with members of their communities’ agri-food, business and social sectors, as well as members of the public in order to identify challenges and opportunities. Collaborations are taking place, work stream committees are meeting, and planned projects to support each of the three bold goals are underway.

Updates and more information about the Guelph-Wellington circular food economy proposal can be found at foodfuture.ca.

Why food?

Because…

  • the cost of healthy food has increased 27% in eight years;
  • one in six families in Guelph-Wellington is food insecure; and
  • Canadians throw away roughly one-third of their food.

Imagine a food system where everyone can access nutritious food, nothing is wasted, and the impact on the environment is minimal. Imagine a system where food experts and entrepreneurs come together to tackle the most complex food challenges.

“Guelph-Wellington is recognized as a global leader in solving food problems,” says Derrick Thomson, chief administrative officer, City of Guelph. “The collaborative work of our community food leaders is already helping individuals to live more sustainable, healthier lives. We are excited to embark on this new stage of innovation together with our community.”

Simply put, there’s no better place to re-invent the food system than Guelph-Wellington: agri-food innovation is in the community DNA…

  • 1,600+ food businesses and entrepreneurs
  • 40+ research institutes and centres
  • a vibrant and engaged local food economy

Strategically located in the heart of the 112 kilometre Innovation Corridor that stretches from Toronto to Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph-Wellington also combines all the assets of a vibrant urban centre with a hub of rural farming, production, manufacturing and distribution.

What is a circular food economy?

Our Food Future will allow Guelph-Wellington to move from the current “take-make-dispose” system to a sustainable and thriving food economy that will create new economic, social and environmental opportunities.

“Not only will this food vision benefit our community,” says Scott Wilson, chief administrative officer, Wellington County, “but in the process, we’ll be creating a food road map that can be shared—regionally, nationally and globally, helping other communities move towards a circular food economy.”

Media contacts

Cathy Kennedy
Manager of Policy and Intergovernmental Relations
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2255
cathy.kennedy@guelph.ca

Jana Burns
Director of Economic Development
County of Wellington
519-837-2600 extension 2525
janab@wellington.ca

More information

Three Bold Goals and Next Steps

Bold Goal 1: 50% increase in access to affordable, nutritious food

Guelph-Wellington wants to ensure everyone in the community has access to affordable, nutritious food required to live healthy, productive lives.

The plan: a “smart” food system that better ensures food security and healthier outcomes—a system that is fair and respectful to all, better manages food resources to serve a diverse and vibrant community and celebrates the importance of good food in our everyday lives.

Planned Projects
  • Asset and Behaviour Mapping: Understand what nutritious food and community food assets are available in Guelph-Wellington, and where the gaps lie in order to better direct resources.
    • launch a public health study to map nutritious food: availability, accessibility, utilization and stability
    • overlay a wealth of data from existing sources
  • Circular Action Plan: Work with local agencies and community groups to develop a Food Security and Health Action Plan.

Bold Goal 2: 50 new circular food business and collaboration opportunities

Guelph-Wellington wants to create new jobs and vibrant economic opportunities within a circular, collaborative ecosystem.

The plan: bring together people of diverse expertise, talent and resources through face-to-face and online collaborations. Use data, technology and innovative thinking to solve food challenges and create new circular businesses, jobs and social enterprises. Create new training opportunities to prepare local residents to work in the new food economy.

Planned Projects
  • Create a Circular Food Economy Lab: Foster partnerships and collaborations to re-invent local food systems and solve food problems.
    • provide oversight to direct problem-solvers to resources and identify collaborators
    • create a hub for collaborators
    • partner with international experts and share best practices
  • Impact Fund: Bring together existing funding programs and providers for better coordination and new partnerships.
    • offer an array of grants, loans, prizes and/or venture capital to enable citizens and stakeholders to suggest food challenges
    • utilize and expand the Guelph Civic Accelerator platform
    • explore unique funding and support requirements for stimulating a circular food economy
  • New Food Economy Skills and Training: Leverage community institutional resources (University of Guelph, Conestoga College, local school boards) to provide public learning labs, and food innovation education and training to encourage fresh ideas.

Bold Goal 3: 50% increase in economic revenues by reducing or transforming food waste

Guelph-Wellington wants to solve food problems using strategies to re-purpose and find value in the outputs that the current food system treats as waste—the by-products of a linear food economy.

The plan: re-imagine, re-use and revalue the inputs and outputs of the local food ecosystem—maximizing their use, eliminating waste, finding the most cost-effective returns and reducing negative environmental impacts.

Planned Projects
  • Business Tools and Services: Work with Provision Coalition to help public food and beverage organizations increase efficiencies and minimize food waste.
    • develop, curate and share tools and diagnostics
    • support creation of value from by-products
  • Public Awareness Campaign: Educate Guelph-Wellington residents on the food industry, the real cost of food waste and a circular food economy through an ongoing public awareness campaign.
  • Circular Carbon Credits: Explore adding a “social currency” to current carbon credit sales that could be used to support a green local economy.
  • Value Mapping: Use data collected from Guelph’s RFID-equipped residential waste carts to determine how food by-products can be better used.
    • identify new intervention points and drive new economic opportunities
    • provide new opportunities to engage with local consumers and producers

What’s next

Community Conversations

At the core of Our Food Future is community conversation and involvement.

  1. Guelph-Wellington has created a dedicated website at foodfuture.ca that will be regularly updated with Planned Project developments, partner profiles and community food stories.
  2. Guelph-Wellington will be publishing a monthly eNewsletter that shares progress updates on the Planned Projects and community food future champion profiles.
  3. Through haveyoursay.guelph.ca, community and industry members are being asked to share their food stories, suggest innovative ideas and submit questions.
  4. The City of Guelph has created new Twitter (@ourfoodfuture), Facebook (@gwfoodfuture) and Instagram (@gwfoodfuture) pages to support community engagement and Our Food Future updates.
  5. A short Food Quiz is available at haveyoursay.guelph.ca to encourage stronger conversation and understanding of food in our communities.

Be a Food Future Champion Public Awareness Campaign

On Nov. 21, during the Smart Harvest event in Fergus, Guelph-Wellington will be launching its “Be a Food Future Champion” campaign. Please watch for more information coming soon.

Smart Cities

  • Guelph-Wellington is further developing its bid for Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge, due March 5, 2019, for a chance to win the $10 million prize.
  • Representatives from Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge will be on-site November 22 during the Smart Harvest event in Fergus for a video promoting Guelph-Wellington’s proposal. Local restaurants, growers and food community leaders will be in attendance.