Smart Cities Challenge

Guelph is throwing its hat in the Federal Smart Cities Challenge.

From Infrastructure Canada’s website: The Smart Cities Challenge is a pan-Canadian competition open to communities of all sizes, including municipalities, regional governments and Indigenous communities (First Nations, Métis and Inuit). The Challenge encourages communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology.

The City of Guelph is eligible to win one of two prizes for cities with populations under 500,000. Each prize is worth $10 million.


  • Application Submission due April 24, 2018C
  • Finalist announcement ($250,000 to develop final proposal) — Summer 2018
  • Final proposal deadline – Winter 2018-19
  • Winner announcement – Spring 2019

Guelph’s Challenge topic – Food Sustainability and Security

Each submission to the challenge will focus on a big sticky problem that can improve the lives of its citizens through collaboration and the innovative use of technology.

Guelph is uniquely and strategically positioned to develop innovative solutions to food challenges, which will produce significant and measurable economic, environmental and social outcomes.

Guelph-Wellington is an internationally recognized leader in food sustainability, security and innovation:

  • Long-standing leadership role for Guelph-Wellington: food sustainability, access, security, production, distribution
  • Guelph-Wellington is a leader in the local food movement and environmental stewardship – with a vibrant and engaged food community.
  • Known for our expertise and cluster of food-focused sectors:
    • Community-based – social and health sector innovation focused on food security, availability, use and access (e.g. The SEED, Farm to Fork)
    • Municipal government – social, economic and environmental focus for the City and Wellington County (e.g. local food, tourism, Guelph Innovation District, waste diversion, planning)
    • University of Guelph – Canada’s food university, Arrell Food Institute and new food chairs, artificial intelligence and big data opportunities
    • Economic sector – tech companies working in this area (e.g. Bio-tech, clean-tech, agri-tech, green energy; advanced manufacturing, food processing)
    • OMAFRA, federal agencies, agriculture associations located in Guelph

Why now?

  • Urgent social and economic challenges are a function, in part, of food production challenges
  • These challenges are global, national and local in nature. For example, there is an opportunity to improve the lives of local residents in Guelph- Wellington:
    • Households experiencing food insecurity (17% Guelph; 9% Wellington)
    • Food inequality across neighbourhoods
    • High cost of food (27% increase since 2009 for family of four)
    • Children living in poverty (13% Guelph; 11.5% in Wellington)
    • Negative health impacts (obesity levels 15.1% Guelph; 23.1% Wellington)
  • Significant impact of climate change on food production – need for a sustainable food systems to mitigate climate change.
  • The components of the solutions are uncoordinated. There is significant opportunity to leverage big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning; Guelph’s participation in and proximity to technology and innovation hubs; and integrate our Guelph’s systems thinking (whole food system).

What’s next?

We are excited to work with local partners and businesses to continue to develop an inspiring submission that could result in tremendous change and benefits locally, nationally and around the world.

Stay tuned.

If you are interested in getting involved in this work, please contact Cathy Kennedy, The City of Guelph’s Manager of Policy and Intergovernmental Relations, at