What will Guelph’s new normal look like?

Recovering from COVID-19

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected our community in ways we’ve never seen before.

It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve managed to slow the spread of the virus and prevent it from overwhelming our healthcare systems.

Guelph’s Emergency Operations Control Group—leaders from the City of Guelph, Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health, Guelph Family Health Team, Guelph General Hospital, Guelph Wellington Paramedic Services, Guelph Fire Department, Guelph Police Services, and Guelph Public Library—has guided our efforts slow the spread of COVID-19.

We closed businesses and buildings, cancelled programs and events. Families and friends stopped gathering at home and in public.

Guelph has come together by staying apart.

Local health resources

Finding our way forward

We’re grateful for these successes, and we know there’s still a lot of hard work to do. It will take some time and teamwork to keep Guelph on the road to recovery.

After closing the doors at City Hall, recreation centres, libraries, theatres, we reviewed every City program and service; we looked at everything we do, and how we do it. We paused some things. We reduced and redeployed staff to deliver critical services and start planning Guelph’s journey toward recovery.

We’ve been collaborating with local agencies to support our most vulnerable citizens. We’re finding new ways to support local businesses, and we’re planning to restore City programs and services and get us closer to our new normal.

Some pretty great things are already happening, thanks to some pretty amazing community leaders. Here are just a few highlights and we will keep sharing our progress in the coming weeks.

Taking care of people

The Royal City Mission, Drop In Centre, Hope House, Wyndham House and the Guelph Community Health Centre are combining resources to meet the needs of vulnerable community members.

City staff at the Evergreen Seniors Community Centre are making meals for vulnerable seniors, youth and others with limited access to food.

Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, the SEED community food hub and other partners working on the Guelph Wellington Our Food Future project are distributing food for those in immediate need.

We’re also helping local growers sell products online until Guelph and Wellington Farmers Markets are back up and running. To boost local food production we’re opening community gardens where about 500 people grow food, and we’re planning to distribute at home gardening kits.

Support for people and families

Taking care of business

Guelph’s business community has stepped up to help us respond to COVID-19. Some donated personal protective equipment to frontline workers, others started making components for ventilators and other medical equipment.

While some have been able to adapt or adjust services to stay open, many have been forced to layoff employees or close all together.

Now, our business community needs our help.

We’re working with municipal groups in Ontario and across Canada including the Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus of Ontario, the Municipal and Regional Chairs of Ontario, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to collect and share information and best practices to help inform City decisions. This group is advocating for financial, legislative, and regulatory supports from other levels of government.

In addition, we’re working with Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force, the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, Innovation Guelph and the Downtown Guelph Business Association, and preparing to launch a “buy local” promotional campaign to support businesses in Guelph and neighbouring communities.

As part of the Guelph-Wellington Our Food Future project, $1.6 million in Federal Smart Cities will be used to support food-related businesses in Guelph Wellington. The Grow Back Better program will provide advice, resources and grants of up to $5,000 to about 40 new and existing businesses and social enterprises. Qualifying organizations can also apply for up to $10,000 in interest-free loans from the Harve$t fund.

Renewing Guelph’s roads, bridges and other local infrastructure provides local jobs while improving our quality of life. The City’s 10-year capital investment plan of over $1.8 billion, plus an annual operating budget of $500 million should be recognized as a stimulus for our local economy.

Support for business

Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery

Restoring public services

We’re so grateful to the people who continue delivering critical public services including 24-hour police, fire and paramedics services, building services, bylaw enforcement, public transit, waste collection and processing, water and wastewater treatment.

We can’t wait to welcome everyone back to Guelph’s playgrounds, sports fields, recreation centres, libraries, museums, theatres and our favourite community gathering places.

To protect the health of our employees, their families and our community, the City will reopen City facilities and restore programs and services based on advice from WDG Public Health and direction form the Province.

We’re also carefully considering the City’s current and future financial position.

Waiving transit fares, parking fees, late fees and penalties for property tax and utility payments, and deferring business licence payments helps support people and businesses right now, but these measures affect how much funding is available to support people, businesses, City projects and public services after the pandemic.

While some City business remains paused, we’ve started conducting committee and City Council meetings online so critical decisions and routine City business can move forward.

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Because this is Guelph

Throughout this crisis, we haven’t forgotten who we are. In Guelph, we strive to be an inclusive, connected, prosperous city where we look after each other and our environment. We’re already working to recover and rebuild our economy and our community.

We may not know exactly what’s in store, but we’re still Guelph, and that means we’ll keep work together to make good things happen.

Volunteering during COVID-19

#VirtualGuelph activities and resources

COVID-19 working tables

 

Social recovery

Lift Our Spirits Table is focused on keeping people engaged and connected. Follow us for inspiring stories, local resources and fun, family activities:

Social and Community Response Table is coordinating the work of the City, Wellington County, social service providers and not-for-profits to support the most vulnerable people in our community.

Economic Recovery

Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force is working in partnership with Guelph’s business community with a goal to sustain, develop and maintain our local economy. In addition to Mayor Guthrie, City Councillors Cathy Downer, Dan Gibson and Dominique O’Rourke will act as liaisons, focusing on recovery efforts for small- and medium-sized businesses and the tourism and culture sectors.

Economic Recovery Table is working with the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force, the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, Innovation Guelph and the Downtown Guelph Business Association to support and rebuild Guelph’s economy during and after the pandemic.

Capital and Construction Table determines what projects can and should move ahead, and supports our advocacy efforts for infrastructure stimulus funding post-pandemic.

Guelph-Wellington Our Food Future – increasing access to affordable, nutritious food and supporting food-focused business and social organizations.

Organizational Recovery

Business Resumption Table ensures City facilities are clean and equipped for City employees to return and resume City programs and services.

Fiscal Recovery Table is focused on the overall financial impacts of the pandemic to the organization, and recovery efforts as we work towards resuming business.

Governance Table helps City Council meet its statutory obligations by reprioritizing Committee and Council agendas, and hosting Guelph’s first web-based committee and council meetings.

Information and Intergovernmental Hub is collecting and sharing municipal best practices and advocating for financial, legislative and regulatory supports from other levels of government.

Human Resources Table ensures we have the right employee resources and supports in place to reopen facilities and restore public services.

Union Presidents Table helps ensure we meet the needs of our employees as they continue working or return to work.