Building Partnerships

Building Partnerships is the City’s commitment to help businesses and builders “get to yes” as they navigate the process of moving a business to Guelph, and apply for planning and development approvals.

Building Partnerships is the product of the City’s five-year Integrated Operational Review (IOR); an overhaul of the City’s planning and economic development processes.


The Integrated Operational Review (IOR) is now complete. This multi-year, multi-phase initiative helped the City improve how the development industry, business community and the City work together, and set the stage for a culture of continuous improvement. We are committed to providing great service, clear advice, and useful tools for our stakeholders. We are here to listen, learn, lead.

The City has made great progress so far, and will continue improving development approval processes and customer service to better support how City staff, the development industry, business community and the public work together.

Highlights of what we’ve done so far:

  • Implemented or addressed all original 23 recommendations from the Phase 2 IOR report.
  • Created a Rapid Response Protocol for high impact Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) development and investment opportunities.
  • Developed the Site Plan User Guide and Part Lot Control Exemption Manual
  • Created user-friendly web content on showcasing development approval processes.
  • Consolidated the City’s Engineering Manual into a one-stop reference document.
  • Created a guideline for developing contaminated sites.
  • Established Guidelines for Terms of Reference for Environmental Impact Studies (EIS)
  • Updated the Site Alteration Bylaw to reflect best business practices.
  • Undertook customer service training for over 70 staff involved in the development process.

Highlights of what we’re working on:

  • Release additional development user guides and related materials;
  • Upgrade the City’s internal software (AMANDA) to align with improved development processes and explore opportunities for public portal use, including digital drawing submissions;
  • Integrate performance measurement systems and targets into the upgraded AMANDA software;
  • Continue webpage improvements;
  • Continue customer service training for staff;
  • Continual updates to the Development Engineering Manual;
  • Update the City’s Parkland Dedication Program;
  • Bring forward a new Site Plan Control Bylaw to Council in fall 2017.

Details can be found in the Integrated Operational Review (IOR) – Program Completion Report (2013 – 2017), being presented at a special Council Planning meeting on July 10, 2017.

Integrated Operational Review reports

2016 Integrated Operational Review Annual Report

The City is moving forward with implementing the Integrated Operational Review recommendations. Most recommendations and improvements have been implemented with the remainder on track to be completed by the end of 2016.

The City is focusing on implementing customer-focused improvements including:

  • Webpage updates to to ensure it is user-friendly and intuitive for those looking to develop, invest or do-business in Guelph.
  • Using streamlined development approval processes for site plan approval, official plan amendments, zone changes, plan of subdivision, part lot control and condominium and vacant land conversion.
  • Releasing development approval process user guides. The first being released is the Site Plan User Guide (summer 2016).
  • Modernizing the City’s online file management software to track all development applications, report on city processing timelines and provide automated notifications to applicants/developers.
  • Developing and implementing a customer service strategy to better serve stakeholders looking to develop and invest in Guelph.

Details about what the City has accomplished to date can be found in the 2016 Integrated Operational Review Annual Report, which staff will present the to the Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Committee on July 5, 2016.

2015 Integrated Operational Review Annual Report

In 2015, the City is becoming more efficient, accessible and responsive by:

  • Mapping all of the City’s current Development Approval Processes (DAPs) to identify and begin implementing improvements.
  • Implementing a mandatory pre-consultation process and Development Review Committee.
  • Developing and implementing the Interim Rapid Response Protocol for high impact Industrial, Commercial and Institutional development and investment opportunities.
  • Piloting performance measurement systems and targets in the development approval process to monitor and track effectiveness of the process.
  • Developing a plan to refresh the City’s website.

On July 7, 2015, staff presented the 2015 Integrated Operational Review Annual Report to the Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Committee. The report highlighted progress made to date and features 23 recommendations aimed at strengthening the City’s development approval processes.

Learn more about what staff accomplished in 2015 and see the Integrated Operational Review implementation timelines in the Integrated Operational Review Annual Report (2014-2015).

A phased approach

The City completed a two-part operational review to find new and better ways of doing business. This review also responded to the findings and recommendations of Prosperity 2020, the City’s Economic Development and Tourism Strategic Plan.

IOR First Annual Report – August 5, 2014
The IOR was undertaken in three phases.

Phase 3 – Implementation

Phase 3 was the multi-year implementation of the recommendations presented to City Council in July 2013.

Year 1 (2013 – 2014)

  • Implementing the foundational elements of the IOR: Receiving Council approval for the resources necessary to support both the long-term implementation and first year initiatives,
  • Filling the IOR Program Manager position (February 2014),
  • Establishing and filling a new Development Planner position (June 2014),
  • Establishing the Communications and Customer Service Committee to help connect with staff and external stakeholders,
  • Developing an Interim Rapid Response Protocol for High Impact Industrial, Commercial and Institutional investment opportunities,
  • Receiving ongoing feedback from the development industry through staff presentations and Business Retention and Expansion Interviews, and
  • Revising the Implementation Plan to respond to staff capacity in relationship to the IOR priorities.

The following is the Implementation Work Plan for Phase 3.
IOR Phase 3 – Implementation Work Plan: to 2017, Revised July 2014

Year 2 (2014 – 2015)

  • Mapping the City’s development approval processes (DAPs) and using stakeholder input to identify areas for improvement.
  • Modelling and testing system improvements and monitoring their effectiveness.
  • Developing and implementing an Interim Rapid Response Protocol for high impact Industrial, Commercial and Institutional development and investment opportunities.
  • Developing a plan to enhance the City’s website to ensure it is user-friendly and intuitive.
  • Establishing the Development Review Committee along with a pre-consultation bylaw following Council approval in July 2015.

Year 3 (2015 – 2017)

In the third and final year, the City implement the remainder of the IOR recommendations and put a greater focus on customer service specifically for stakeholders involved in development approval processes.
The following is background information about the first two phases of the Integrated Operational Review (IOR).

Phase 2 (2012)

Phase 2 evaluated the City’s current development review processes and the related roles of Planning, Building, Engineering and Enterprise Services (Economic Development, Downtown Renewal and Community Energy Initiative).

Phase 2 objectives included:

  • to review the current development review processes and the roles of Planning, Building, Engineering and Enterprise (Economic Development, Downtown Renewal and Community Energy Initiative) services;
  • to assess organization, management and operating structures, processes, service delivery, resources and approaches to conflict resolution;
  • to identify opportunities for improved service delivery effectiveness, efficiency and customer service; and
  • to make recommendations for improvement with an implementation plan.

Operational Review Phase 2 Report

Implementation Plan and Performance Measurement Framework (July 2013)

Phase 1 (2011)

The purpose of Phase 1 was to identify Operational Review related key issues, challenges and opportunities (i.e. issues scoping), including initial ideas for addressing them. The City retained the consulting firm GLPi to conduct this assessment.

This initiative included input from an Oversight Committee which includes representatives from the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, the Guelph-Wellington Developer’s Association, the local development industry as well as the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional real estate broker sector.

Operational Review Issues Scoping Report

For more information

Planning Services
[email protected]