Guelph City Council hears delegations and determines next steps for proposed Public Space Use bylaw

Guelph, Ont., February 15, 2024 – At a special meeting of Council held on February 14, City Council heard delegations from members of the community related to the proposed Public Space Use bylaw. As directed by Council in January, City staff prepared the draft bylaw to address safety concerns regarding encampments and related activities on lands owned or operated by the City.  

After hearing more than 25 delegations and, in response to the community’s feedback, Council proposed a series of resolutions to move forward the City’s efforts to help address the housing crisis, mitigate safety concerns for those living in encampments, and establish parameters for the use of public space for shelter. 

Through the resolutions, Council directed City staff to: 

  • Establish a plan to engage members of the community, including those with lived experience in encampment settings and the downtown community, on the use of public space for shelter;  
  • Review insights and outcomes from the Health and Housing Symposium planned for early April, which is hosted by Wellington County (the County); 
  • Work with Wellington County, front-line workers and unhoused community members to enhance the City’s Encampments on City Property and Road Allowances Operating Procedure to include fire prevention education for community members staying in encampments in Guelph; 
  • Continue to advance advocacy efforts to the provincial and federal governments, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), to:
    • address the need for greater municipal funding to deal with housing instability issues, 
    • prompt legislative reform to address public space use by-laws, and  
    • secure greater healthcare funding to address the crisis in our community connected to mental health and substance use issues;  
  •  Defer further amendments or adoption of the proposed Public Space Use bylaw until the appeal of the Corporation of the City of Kingston v. Doe 2023 ONSC 6662 decision is available.  

Council also respectfully requested that the County supply additional resources, tools and data related to daily availability and access to permanent shelter for unhoused community members for staff and Council’s awareness and consideration.  

Next steps 

City staff will develop a plan for public consultation on the Public Space Use bylaw and will also consider outcomes from Wellington County’s Health and Housing Symposium and implications of the forthcoming Kingston ruling before bringing the issue back to Council for further discussion at a future date. 

Meeting dates, details and documents are posted to as they are made available. Information on speaking or sending comments to Council is also available on the City’s website.  


Guelph City Council directs development of Public Space Use bylaw to address safety concerns (January 17, 2024) 

Media Contact 

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