Strategic Advisory Group on Downtown Guelph

In July 2022, Council endorsed the creation of a new Strategic Advisory Group on downtown, to function as a subcommittee of the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness and Community Safety.  Co-Chaired by Mayor Cam Guthrie and Guelph Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Shakiba Shayani, the group is building on the Task Force’s progress with a focus on Guelph’s downtown.

The advisory group has put together an action plan which is continuously updated to include activities for implementation. These activities and tactics comprise our operational plans

Strategic Advisory Group on Downtown Guelph


A thriving downtown Guelph where:

  • everyone feels safe and everyone feels like they belong
  • the area is prosperous, activated and welcoming
  • effective health and social service delivery is provided

Action Plan

Short term

Activity Objectives Tactics Cost
Accelerate permanent supportive housing Ensure the success of Stepping Stone’s Grace Gardens project, 10 Shelldale project, Wyndham House’s Bellevue project and County of Wellington’s Delhi project.

Amplify and achieve Home for Good campaign that raises $5 million.

  • Create and execute an advocacy strategy to secure operational funding
  • Amplify Home for Good campaign 
Funds secured to support advocacy strategy.

(July 2022, Guelph City Council pledged to match public donations to the campaign up to $500,000)

Enhance and expand daytime and overnight services and facilities More places for people in need to go at all times of the day that include integrated wrap-around services.
  • Meeting short term/urgent needs at Royal City Mission.
  • Collect information and data required to inform longer term health and housing system plan.
Funds secured. ($278,722)


Enhance safety (perceived and real)
  • Increased and improved presence of authority and supports
  • Increased sense of safety
  • Multi-disciplinary team, eg. Police, Welcoming Streets Initiative, clean and litter-free streets.
  • Enhanced safety infrastructure, eg. cameras
Funds secured. ($202,500)

Partial funds secured.

Medium term

Activity Objectives Tactics Cost
Service design and delivery changes for acute needs Increase mental health services and supports for those in crisis.

Increase the rapid response and stabilization programs to promote physical well-being.

Increase access to police, and mental health crisis supports.

Increase intensive mental health and addictions wrap-around and housing focused team care (i.e., Specialized FACT Teams) including psychiatric treatment.

Implement a 24-28 bed integrated crisis response and stabilization program for mental health and addictions. Examples of co-located services include: Crisis stabilization beds; detox beds; safe beds.

Expand mental health services with Police(IMPACT Program) to24/7 capability.









Strengthen community resilience and prevention Support programming and initiatives to proactively build resilience and wellbeing.
  • Resourcing for downtown neighborhood programming & support to increase wellbeing
  • Amplify work of the Community Resilience Coalition GW and encourage taking of existing training modules


Medium to long-term

Activity Objectives Tactics Cost
Policy and system change
  • Effective project coordination
  • Coordinate and implement advocacy for adequate and sustainable funding aspects of the plan.
  • Project coordination, communications, and advocacy

Meeting summaries

  • June 5, 2023: At the eighth meeting, the priority activity leads updated the Group on the ongoing work to date. The Group decided to pause in-person meetings until the data about Guelph and Wellington County’s housing, mental health and social support needs, programs and services is ready at the end of the summer. This data will help determine funding gaps and develop research-based solutions for the challenges facing Guelph and Wellington County. In the meantime, Group members will continue to keep each other updated about each agency’s respective work through virtual touch points, as needed, and take action in their respective spheres of influnece.
  • May 1, 2023: At the seventh meeting, the priority activity leads updated the Group on the ongoing work to date. The Group was presented with data from Guelph General Hospital about patients experiencing mental health, addictions and homelessness. The data showed clear connections between homelessness, the need for primary health care, and addiction/mental health. The Group also continued to explore approaches to advocacy for funding for Guelph’s permanent supportive housing.
  • April 3, 2023: At the sixth meeting, the priority activity leads updated the Group on the ongoing work to date. The Group focused on two projects to collect data to better understand the housing, mental health and social support needs of Guelphites as well as programs and services currently in place. Examining the County of Wellington Downtown Outreach Survey from Fall 2022 and looking forward to the City of Guelph’s work to conduct an assessment and gap review of urgent homelessness, addictions and mental health services in the city. The data from both projects will better position the Group to resource the plan that addresses the real human needs faced by our most vulnerable community members while ensuring the economic prosperity of Guelph’s downtown core.
  • February 27, 2023: At the fifth meeting, the priority activity leads updated the Group on the ongoing work to date. The main discussion centered around the urgent need to address the housing crisis and risk of increased homelessness in Guelph, and to set a plan to advocate for financial support from upper levels of government. To support the advocacy work, the City is undertaking a gap analysis for homelessness, addiction and mental health in Guelph. The analysis will examine what is funded and by who. The results may be used to support potential recommendations as part of Guelph’s multi-year budget to address possible funding gaps and inform the necessary system-level transformation of health and housing services.
  • January 16, 2023: At the fourth meeting, the discussions revolved around a potential ask or an endorsement in principle of an action that could be considered by the City in the upcoming Council Budget meeting held on January 25. In addition, the Group also deliberated on funding needs in further detail from all levels of government. As an update, although dedicated funding with a permanent levy was not brought forward to city council, council did agree to two initiatives that we know address many of the issues discussed:
    • Funding of $150,000 to conduct a formal review of the gaps that exist related to homelessness, addictions, and the mental health crisis within the Guelph community, alongside monitoring and reporting back on continued housing legislation changes imposed on the City.
    • The addition of $202,500 to the base budget for the Welcoming Streets initiative.
  • December 2022: The Group did not hold a meeting in December, but the priority leads worked towards identifying funding needs to executive tactics. The leads also started implementing activities that could be done without further funding. Based on discussions for initiating short-term quick fixes, (while continuing to plan for long-term solutions), the Group advocated for extension of daytime services at Royal City Mission. In communication with our partners at Royal City Mission, the start date for extension will be within the first half of 2023.
  • November 28, 2022: At the third meeting, the priority leads updated the Group on the work done so far, using the draft operational plans as a guide. The updates gave the Group a more nuanced understanding of the ‘behind the scenes’ work currently in operation as well as a more detailed version of the logistical, monetary and resources related challenges that must be addressed. The Group identified specific tasks and activities that needs to be done for solutions to be sustainable and long-lasting. The discussions helped finalize and release the operational plans to the community members.
  • October 31, 2022: At the second meeting, the priority leads presented draft operation plans to the Advisory Group for discussion and input. Each draft operation plan identified potential tasks and solutions to address issues within their priority area for discussion. The Group discussed what resources will be needed to implement these solutions and identified any gaps to be addressed. The Advisory Group is working on prioritizing and finalizing the operational plans and will share the final document with the community after it has been confirmed at the next meeting.
  • September 19, 2022: At its first meeting, the Advisory Group agreed on a vision and identified six priorities: accelerating permanent supportive housing; expanding daytime and overnight services and facilities; enhancing safety; strengthening resilience and prevention; making service changes for acute needs; and advocating for policy and system change (including funding from upper levels of government). Leads have been assigned to each priority, and they will create operational plans and bring them to the next meeting for discussion.


  • Mayor Cam Guthrie, Co-Chair
  • Shakiba Shayani, President & CEO, Guelph Chamber of Commerce, Co-Chair
  • Lloyd Longfield, MP Guelph
  • Mike Schreiner, MPP Guelph
  • Rodrigo Goller, Councillor, City of Guelph
  • Carly Klassen, Councillor, City of Guelph
  • David Anderson, Councillor, County of Wellington
  • Scott Wilson, CAO, County of Wellington
  • Scott Stewart, CAO, City of Guelph
  • Luisa Artuso, Social Services Administrator, County of Wellington
  • Colleen Clack-Bush, DCAO, Public Services City of Guelph
  • Stacey Laughlin, Downtown Revitalization Advisor, City of Guelph
  • Chief Gord Cobey, Guelph Police Service
  • Glenna Banda, Executive Director, United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin
  • Helen Fishburn, Executive Director, Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington
  • Kristen Kerr, Executive Director, Stonehenge Therapeutic Community
  • Steve Kraft, CEO, Guelph Public Library
  • Melissa Kwiatkowski, Chief Executive Officer, Guelph Community Health Centre
  • Shannon Maier, Director of Patient Services, Guelph General Hospital
  • Dominica McPherson, Director, Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination
  • Ben Minnett, Co-owner, The Bookshelf
  • Kevin Polach, Owner, Capistrano Bistro & DGBA Board Member

Community Resources

Guelph Police Service

  • 9-1-1 should be called in an emergency.
  • Const. Connor Vaivods (he/him), Downtown Liaison Officer, [email protected]
  • 519.824.1212 x 0 is the phone number for general police inquiries or requests for police response. The response is prioritized based on the urgency of the situation.

For more information:

Mayor’s Office
[email protected]