Smart Cities Challenge

About this project

This initiative is designed to deliver the expectations of the Smart Cities proposal as articulated in the contribution agreement with Infrastructure Canada (INFC)—specifically, those milestones and metrics associated with the 50X50X50 goals.

  • Goal 1: Increasing access to affordable, nutritious food by 50 per cent
  • Goal 2: Creating 50 new circular business collaborations and opportunities
  • Goal 3: Increasing circular economic benefits by 50 per cent by valuing waste as a resource

In Q2 2021, the Smart Cities Office (SCO) launched the Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL). COIL builds on the work of Our Food Future to accelerate circular businesses in the food and environment sectors while also launching a series of larger scale challenges and demonstration projects.

In Q1 2022, COIL launched Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab (ZWETL). ZWETL will drive circularity through material-streams using new approaches and models to generate innovation, infrastructure, and sustainable secondary markets necessary for recovery, recycling, and reuse.

For more information on these initiatives visit and


  • Project: Asset and behavior mapping: Q1 2020 to Q3 2022
  • Project: Circular Food Security and Health Action Plan: Q4 2022 to Q4 2023
  • Project: Circular Food Economy Innovation Hub (CFE iHub): Q1 2020 to Q1 2022
  • Project: COIL—Capacity building for circular economy businesses: Q3 2021 to Q4 2023
  • Project: The Harve$t Impact Fund: Q1 2020 to Q1 2022
  • Project: COIL—Harve$t Impact Social Impact Investment Fund Expansion: Q3 2021 to Q4 2023
  • Project: New food economy skills and training: Q1 2020 to Q1 2023
  • Project: Business tools and services: Q1 2020 to Q4 2023
  • Project: “Reimagine Food” awareness campaign: Q2 2020 to Q4 2023
  • Project: Circular carbon credits: Q1 2021 to Q2 2023
  • Project: Circularity in municipal waste systems: Q1 2020 to Q4 2023
  • Project: COIL—Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab: Q1 2022 to Q4 2023
  • Project wrap-up: Q1 to Q2 2024

Project status and last quarter update

Our Food Future project status

Within scope

On schedule

Within budget

Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) project status

Within scope

On schedule

Within budget

Our Food Future delivers circular food economy programs as per funding agreements. Highlights of Q3 2023 include:

  • At the Guelph City Council meeting in June, the Smart Cities Office notified Council that the Smart Cities Office will officially conclude in December 2023. The Smart Cities Office in the County will remain open to continue the regenerative agriculture work. City staff underwent multiple internal municipal processes to determine the next steps for various programs. This process included stakeholder conversations, risk management, communications planning, and Council preparations. The Reimagine Food Campaign continued with a suite of programs and communications activities focused on promoting circularity, raising awareness about the need to decrease household food waste, and build demand for circular food products.
  • PlazaPOPS is a community-led, high impact, and low-cost installation that transforms parking lots into free, accessible gathering places. It is designed to encourage community connectedness and conversations and is the brainchild of University of Guelph Landscape Architecture collaborators Danial Rotsztain and Professor Brendan Stewart. Our Food Future, the Guelph Community Health Centre, Kindle Communities and Habitat for Humanity worked together to install the infrastructure at the Shelldale Community Gateway. The installation included a shaded lounge with accessible seating as well as a garden of native plants, pollinators, and fresh herbs.
  • The Waste as a Resource Workstream developed an intervention to improve household waste diversion, with a focus on food waste. City staff from various departments, researchers from the University of Guelph, and consultants with expertise in behaviour change strategies worked together to learn about and design a pilot program that stacked concepts from behavioural insights and motivations research onto the City’s curbside waste inspection program.

Some notable achievements in Q3 2023 for COIL include:

  • COIL first national challenge in collaboration with Vancouver Economic Commission and Halifax Partnership with ZWETL funding from Co-operators was hugely successful and received competitive applications from coast to coast to coast. The final projects moving forward with $15,000 in funding and project support are led by Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley, ReOsiris, Good Roads and Adaptis Technologies.
  • COIL and Our Food Future had an exciting presence at the first-ever Canadian Circular Economy Summit in Toronto June 19-20. COIL was asked to sponsor and program the B2B component of the summit, speak in three sessions, and contribute to regenerative agriculture and built environment programs. A spotlight was shone on two local alumni (Friendlier and EcoWool Canada) through speaking engagements and investor opportunities.
  • COIL is in the final delivery of its remaining programs: STEP SE for agri-food social enterprises (delivered by 10C and Harvest Impact); Activate Accelerator 4 for circular business education and scaling (delivered by Innovation Guelph); our extended mentorship program for 15 existing COIL businesses (delivered by Innovation Guelph), the Circular Leadership Program for circular innovation development (supported by the Smart Cities Office/SCO); Circular Demonstration Challenge for collaborative projects (delivered by SCO) and Circular CoLab Demonstration 3 (delivered by SCO).

Additional project details

  • Executive sponsors: Andrew Telfer, Executive Director, Smart Cities Initiative
  • Project managers: Ashlee Cooper, Manager, Our Food Future Initiative; Andrew Telfer, Manager, COIL
  • Approved budget: $15,346,250
  • Funding sources: 65 per cent funded Infrastructure Canada, 32 per cent funded Federal Development Agency of Southern Ontario, three per cent grants and subsidies
  • Target completion: Q2 2024

For more information

Smart Cities Office
519-822-1260 extension 3559
[email protected] or [email protected]