City Council receives Guelph’s latest COVID-19 report
Guelph, Ont., August 12, 2020 – At today’s City Council meeting, City staff presented its latest update about Guelph’s response to COVID-19.
Just before today’s Council meeting, the Province of Ontario announced that Guelph will receive $6.9 million in emergency operating funds and another $5.1 million in funding for transit as part of the Safe Restart agreement. This is the first round of emergency funding from other levels of government. Additional funding may be allocated in the future to protect against potential future waves of the virus.
“This funding is absolutely critical for Guelph to cover costs associated with COVID-19. This is certainly welcome news as we prepare next year’s budget. We’re still being careful to manage costs and prepare for the possibility of a second wave of the virus,” said the City’s Chief Administrative Officer, Scott Stewart.
Since declaring an emergency, the City has spent $3.6 million on additional cleaning and supplies, personal protective equipment, plexiglass barriers and other new infrastructure required to meet public health guidelines. Meanwhile, revenue from recreation programs, transit, parking and other City fees is $20.7 million lower this year.
To offset these revenue losses and increased costs, the City stopped all discretionary spending; laid off temporary casual, part-time and full-time staff; paused non-critical hiring; and reduced service levels to save about $14.3 million by year-end.
The City estimated its year-end deficit at $10 million before today’s Safe Restart funding announcement. The City will share further details about allocating emergency funds in future COVID-19 updates to City Council.
Guelph state of emergency continues
Guelph remains under a state of emergency, and the City’s response to the pandemic is now integrated into its day-to-day operations. Future updates will be shared with City Council and the community quarterly as City staff continue restoring services and resuming projects.
“COVID-19 isn’t over. It isn’t solved. We are learning to live with this virus as we get back to the business of local government, and we’re preparing in case our circumstances change in the fall,” said Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie.
The Council report highlights how the City continues to manage through the challenging impacts of the pandemic, the City’s current fiscal position, and unexpected opportunities.
Supporting Guelph’s social and economic recovery
Since receiving Council approval in July, the City has reallocated $350,000 from the Community Investment Strategy, to an Emergency and Resilience Fund. The program is designed to help not-for-profit organizations, unincorporated groups and individuals adapt and develop programs to strengthen capacity during COVID-19.
The $1.6 million Guelph-Wellington Grow Back Better program has helped the SEED Emergency Home Delivery Program and deliver more than 12,000 nutritious food baskets, raised $16,000 and matched those donations to help the Harve$t Impact fund continue increasing access to nutritious food. Forty Seeding Our Food Future micro-grants were awarded in July and urban agriculture projects are also underway.
Guelph’s temporary patio pilot program and downtown dining district/pedestrian zone made room for several restaurants to reopen safely, keep more people working, and offer places for people to reconnect with friends and family.
“Every pilot project has its issues and we’re still addressing some challenges but, overall, Guelph’s temporary patio program has been a success. We thank all the businesses and the Downtown Guelph Business Association for working with the City to create more spaces for people to enjoy this summer,” said Stewart.
The City will continue working with the Downtown Guelph Business Association to consider reopening streets to traffic while maintaining outdoor dining areas.
Guelph’s experience during COVID-19 will also factor into plans for transportation and public spaces. As the City resumes work on several master plans already underway, Guelph can emerge from COVID-19 with a stronger and safer approach to mobility and community spaces.
- Visit guelph.ca/covid19 or follow the @cityofguelph on Facebook or Twitter for updates #COVID19Guelph
- View the presentation: Managing the Impacts of COVID-19: Update #5
- Read the report: Managing the Impacts of COVID-19: Update #5
Tara Sprigg, General Manager
Corporate Communications and Customer Service
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2610