Guelph, Ont., February 7, 2020 – Mayor Cam Guthrie presented his sixth annual State of the City address this morning, sharing his vision for Guelph in 2020 and beyond.
Mayor Guthrie began his address by reflecting on a headline-generating quote from his 2019 address, in which he said he had “failed as a mayor” in regards to Guelph’s homelessness crisis. He then provided an update on the work being done by the Mayor’s Task Force on the Homelessness and Community Safety, including the creation of the Welcoming Streets program and the construction of the supportive recovery room. These efforts, he said, have contributed to a 29 per cent reduction in chronic homelessness in 2019.
“My message last year around homelessness was a message of urgency,” Mayor Guthrie said. “This year, my message is one of hope… I believe if we keep at it, we can, and we will, end homelessness in our city.”
The mayor highlighted a number of initiatives that will contribute to the community’s health and safety as it continues to grow, including Council’s commitment to invest in additional resources for the Guelph Police Service and Guelph General Hospital.
“Just as Council agreed to invest in a safer city through increased policing, they have also agreed to a $4.5 million city contribution to the Guelph General Hospital for a healthier city,” Mayor Guthrie said. “This is an investment well spent on the wellbeing of everyone in our growing city.”
Speaking on the City’s financial condition, Mayor Guthrie pointed to increased reserves, low debt levels, and credit rating score of AA+ for the seventh year in a row as evidence of a healthy economy and well-managed municipality.
The mayor also referenced his work as Chair of the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) as an opportunity to work in partnership with his mayoral peers and with the Province to advance the interests of Guelph residents, as well as other Ontarians. Referring of the Province’s decision to defer funding cuts to municipalities, Mayor Guthrie said “I truly appreciate that the Province listened to us and took action quickly. In the weeks and months since, we have seen a new tone from the Provincial government, and a new willingness to work with municipalities on behalf of the people we all serve.”
Looking ahead, Mayor Guthrie spoke in support of the City’s Strategic Plan, titled “Future Ready,” saying “With this plan, Council and the administration are both rowing in the same direction. We don’t have administrative priorities and Council priorities – we have Guelph priorities.” He shared examples of programs and initiatives that will help the City achieve future-readiness, including electrifying the Guelph Transit’s bus fleet with the help of $73 million in federal and provincial funding, and moving towards two-way, all-day GO train service.
“This is going to be transformational for Guelph,” Mayor Guthrie said. “When we talk about tackling climate change, creating a sustainable environment, and having a highly effective transit system – this is what we mean by ‘future ready.’”
The mayor concluded his address by sharing his own “2020 vision” for Guelph, in which he envisions free transit for high schoolers that will improve work and volunteer options for students, help reduce the financial burden of local transit for families, and ultimately contribute to a trend towards higher transit use city-wide.
Mayor Guthrie also challenged Council and residents to be bold in pursuing the City’s climate and energy goals, and expressed support for an active transportation network that would allow the downtown core to eventually become car-free. “Ten years from now, do we want our downtown to be just slightly better than it is now? Or do we want to be bold, and push ourselves to create a downtown that is truly a destination, not for cars, but for people?” he asked.
Finally, Mayor Guthrie spoke about the need for the City to continually evaluate operating costs to find efficiencies and savings for the taxpayer without sacrificing the high service levels that make Guelph an attractive place to run a business, attend school, or raise a family.
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 at http://guelph.ca/city-hall/mayor-and-council/mayors-office/state-of-the-city/.
For more information
Mayor Cam Guthrie
Communications Advisor, Mayor’s Office
519-822-1260 extension 2558