Guelph shifting from COVID-19 response to preparing for recovery

CORRECTION May 12, 2020: Grow Back Better offers $1.6 million in federal Smart Cities funding.  The original announcement stated $1.5 million.


Guelph, Ont., May 11, 2020—At this afternoon’s special Council meeting, senior administrative staff detailed the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the last month, and highlighted the City’s shift from response to preparing for recovery.

The report prepared by staff focused on the work underway to advance Guelph’s economic and social recovery, along with the City’s own plans for organizational recovery.

Economic and social recovery

Among the economic and social initiatives highlighted was Grow Back Better, which refocuses $1.6 million in federal Smart Cities funding over the next 18 months to support recovery efforts that align with Our Food Future—Guelph-Wellington’s initiative to create Canada’s first circular food economy. The same initiative aims to get Guelph growing again by boosting local food production; supporting vulnerable residents so they can access affordable, nutritious food during the pandemic more easily; and continuing to provide immediate food distribution.

The City is also helping local farmers sell goods online until local farmers’ markets are reopened, and reassembling Grow Guelph to support the local economy.

In response to the work of the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery, the City is reallocating economic development program funding to directly support the needs of Guelph businesses.

The City’s own plans for infrastructure renewal and construction will also stimulate the local economy.

Organizational recovery

Sustaining the City’s financial health while providing fiscal relief for businesses and residents is putting financial strain on the City’s budget and reserve position. Guelph and other cities are advocating to other levels of government for more diversified revenue streams to mitigate financial vulnerability for cities, and to support cities’ recovery.

The City is also appealing to the federal and provincial governments—along with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario—for emergency municipal funding to help make up for ongoing revenue losses resulting from COVID-19.  At the same time, the City is reducing expenditures to help mitigate impacts.

The City has also developed and is rolling out processes to bring employees back to work in a safe way, and to help restore City programs and services in a post-COVID-19 workplace.

Adjusted schedule of City Council meetings to resume online

Starting this month and continuing through to the end of August, the City will hold one City Council Planning meeting, one regular City Council meeting and one Special City Council meeting for COVID-19 updates each month. The new Council meeting schedule will be available on guelph.ca/council.

For the time being, Council meetings will be conducted online, community members will have opportunities to delegate, and all meetings will be live-streamed at guelph.ca/live.

Property tax policy approved

Separate from staff’s update on the City’s response to COVID-19, Council also approved an updated property tax policy. This policy sets out the tax ratios and corresponding tax rates for different property classes. The updated policy provides for the continuation of the low-income seniors and low-income disabled tax relief program, and the charitable tax rebate program.

Based on the approved policy derived from the 2020 Council approved budget, the average home will see an increase of $141 in property taxes for 2020, or just under $12 a month.

Resources

For up to date information about City closures and cancellations visit guelph.ca/covid19 follow @cityofguelph on Facebook or Twitter using #COVID19Guelph.

Health agencies

Media Contact

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