City of Guelph taking action to get more housing built faster

New ideas on the table following special Council workshop

Guelph, Ont., July 11, 2023 – At tonight’s housing workshop, staff shared a progress update and an interactive story map to help Council and the community gain a better understanding of the range and types of housing in Guelph, and the actions the City is taking to help increase housing supply in Guelph.

During the workshop, staff demonstrated how the City financially supports community partners, invests in infrastructure, makes more land available to support more housing, and advocates to other levels of government on behalf of the community’s needs. Staff also identified funding gaps and opportunities and explained Guelph’s current capacity for housing.

“We appreciated Mayor Guthrie’s call for a special Council meeting because it gave us an opportunity to really get into the details of what we’re doing to get shovels in the ground,” says the City’s chief administrative officer, Scott Stewart. “We’re here, we’re putting in the work, we’re spending thousands of hours and millions of dollars to make it happen. But we can’t do it alone. This is not just the City’s problem. This is a collective problem, and we need other levels of government, community partners, and developers to help us solve it.”

Highlights from staff’s presentation

The City provides about $5.5 million every year in development fee reductions to contribute to new housing supply, primarily related to creating accessory dwelling units (e.g. basement apartments and in-law suites). With provincial changes, it is estimated this could grow to more than $23 million a year to encourage developers to build rental and affordable housing units.

The City financially supports community partners like Wellington County and other non-profit service providers to manage and deliver critical housing services including emergency shelters and transitional housing, for our community.

  • $17 million in annual base funding for Guelph’s share of the provincially legislated social housing services delivered by the County as the City’s designated service manager;
  • $500,000 in annual base funding for the City’s affordable housing incentive program; augmented with other one-time contributions, resulting in over $3.1 million provided toward three supportive housing projects in Guelph in 2021 and 2022;
  • $495,000 in annual base funding to run the Wyndham House Youth Shelter along with providing the property rent-free;
  • about $710,000 of annual funding for other related services like Welcoming Streets and the extension of daytime shelter hours at the Royal City Mission;
  • the contribution of the Delhi Street property for new transitional housing in Guelph—an equivalent value of $1.4 million; and
  • as a long-term care license holder, committing $862,000 in funding and financing of up to $6.2 million for an additional 29 beds at the Elliott Community.

The City invests billions to build infrastructure that supports growth including:

  • Nearly $150 million on 28 growth-related water, sewer, and road construction projects currently underway or completed in the last five years
  • More than $4 million in planning for service delivery to support mandated growth
  • About $3 billion for planned work based on Council-approved master plans
    • Guelph’s current capacity for housing includes land already zoned for residential use that can accommodate nearly 6,000 units for which the City has not received site plan applications, or development requirements have not been met by the developer, and, in some cases, more than 30 years have passed waiting for approved units to be built.
    • To reach the Province’s mandated target of 18,000 units by 2031, the City needs developers to build about 1,974 units every year. This number is about 400 units more than the highest number of permits the City issued in the last 20 years.

Taking it even further

Municipalities, including the City of Guelph, are responsible for making housing development possible but cannot build private housing supply. Following the workshop presentation, Council talked with staff about the City’s role, limitations, and other ideas that might work to get more houses built.

“Too many people, organizations and yes, all of Council, need to know exactly what’s happening with housing in our community. That’s why this workshop was important, it allowed staff to state clearly what work they’ve done to date in trying to create the right conditions and opportunities to get more housing approved as quickly as possible,” says Mayor Cam Guthrie adding, “I was also excited to hear Council’s ideas for innovative housing solutions to explore in Guelph. I want to make sure we’ve exhausted all options within municipal control to help people find the housing they need, whether they live here now, or may choose Guelph as their home in the future.”

In addition to ongoing advocacy and applying for infrastructure grants and funding, Council and staff discussed the potential to:

  • draft policies that enable more housing such as a potential parking and stormwater cash-in-lieu policy
  • link infrastructure investment to housing supply outcomes and prioritize capital investment where the greatest housing supply can be achieved in the short-term
  • increase affordable housing by building and operating affordable housing
  • review City-owned property to see what might be sold to accommodate more housing

Next steps

Staff will continue collaborating with community partners and developers to increase housing supply and advocating to other levels of government to provide much-needed funding for critical infrastructure to support our growing population and housing needs.

In August, staff will publish a Council information report that summarizes the workshop, including the suggestions and ideas put forth for consideration.

On July 19, staff will present the draft 2023 Development Charges Background Study at a special Council meeting. This will be a critical conversation to determine how the City can maximize funding potential from development charges to support housing development while reducing impacts to people and businesses who pay taxes and service rates.

At a special Council meeting on September 12, Council will receive the report from Collective Results on the work they’ve done studying the gaps and opportunities within our community connected to issues of homelessness, mental health, and substance use. In addition, the County will present its housing and homelessness plan.

The following week on September 19, staff will seek Council’s approval on the project framework for the Housing Affordability Strategy update, and then in October, staff will present a report to Council with recommendations for future action.

In January 2024, staff will provide the next update on the housing continuum.

More information will be shared as it becomes available.


Media contact

Shelly Reed
Strategic Communications Advisor
Strategic Communications and Community Engagement
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2223
[email protected]