Guelph City Council green lights housing recommendations

More than 20 approvals will boost the City’s efforts to increase housing supply and address housing instability and homelessness in Guelph

Guelph, Ont., October 18, 2023 – At yesterday’s special Council meeting, City of Guelph staff presented several recommendations based on information received and shared at the Housing in Guelph Workshop on July 11, the special Council meeting on September 12 and the Building Our City Budget Workshop on October 11.

All staff recommendations, as well as new motions tabled by Council, were approved.

Taking care of each other

The City’s vision for Guelph is an inclusive, connected, prosperous city where we look after each other and our environment. While the responsibility for the delivery of services related to homelessness and housing stability lies with the County of Wellington, there’s increasing pressure on the City to consider how to respond to the critical issues related to homelessness in Guelph.

“We want enough housing, and we want housing that people can afford. We’re trying to balance our housing goals and our vision for Guelph, with our obligations to capital investments like infrastructure renewal, facilities and service enhancements, all in a way that’s fiscally responsible,” says Colleen Clack-Bush, the City’s deputy chief administrative officer for Public Services. “We know what it takes, and what it costs to build community, but we’re not permitted to run a deficit. If we don’t get more funding from other levels of government to make all of this happen, we’ll be forced to raise property taxes or cut programs, which threatens the quality of life in Guelph, and affordability in Guelph.”

Highlights from staff recommendations

Staff’s recommendations covered the entire housing continuum–from emergency, transitional and supportive housing to private market rentals and ownership. In addition to stronger collaboration and advocacy efforts, working with the County to establish clear roles and responsibilities, and supporting the County’s Housing Symposium, Council approved the following:

  • That the City of Guelph adopts a human rights-based approach to housing.
  • That the Mayor request the Government of Ontario consider donating provincial lands for affordable and supportive housing.
  • That Council urge local developers and the Chamber of Commerce to consider donating land to address urgent housing needs in Guelph.
  • That staff seek feedback from the Downtown Guelph Business Association, local downtown social service agencies and the County to consider the best location(s) and delivery method for 12-hour service, seven days a week daytime shelter space.
  • That staff work with Royal City Mission to consider a short-term extension of the current Community Benefit Agreement, until staff has time to undertake community consultation and report back to Council on next steps regarding the possible daytime shelter space.
  • That the City’s Housing Affordability Strategy enable a greater supply and mix of housing and to enhance capacity, awareness and support for affordable housing.
  • That staff immediately prepare a zoning bylaw amendment that would permit, as-of-right, up to four residential units per lot where there is service capacity.
  • That the City use the Housing Accelerator Fund funding, if received, to incentivize around 975 new residential units.
  • That the Mayor follow up with the Province to ensure it follows through on the actions identified in Guelph’s Housing Pledge to help reach our housing targets, including making us whole financially.
  • That Council call on the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada to reconsider the fiscal framework in a new deal for municipalities.
  • That the City support local post-secondary institutions in requesting funding from other levels of government.
  • That the City’s development advisor work with the Guelph and District Homebuilders Association and Developers Association to advance outstanding sites that have approvals in place but have not been built.

Approved Council motions

In addition to approving staff’s recommendations, Council approved four new motions, including:

  • That the City requests the agenda for the County’s Housing Symposium include a discussion focused on permanent structured encampments.
  • That the County be requested to formalize a program to conduct wellness checks on people living in encampments.
  • That staff work with the Guelph Community Health Centre to consider options to expand the Welcoming Streets program.
  • That the County be requested to develop a winter housing and homelessness strategy.

The full list of recommendations is posted at

Next steps

The City will advance the work required of these recommendations. The City will also continue working on its housing pledge commitments, 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 November, staff will update Council on the feedback collected regarding the possibility of a daytime shelter space in the downtown secondary plan area.

On November 7, staff will present the 2024-2027 Multi-Year Budget to Council. This will launch Council into tough conversations and difficult decision-making required to balance the budget. The 2024-2027 Multi-Year Budget must be adopted by Council no later than December 25.

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


Media contacts

Colleen Clack-Bush
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Public Services
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2588
[email protected]

Jayne Holmes
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Services
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2248
[email protected]