Mental Health Day_poster

Stories of resilience to be featured at 16th annual Mayor’s Initiative for World Mental Health Day

All invited to attend free event October 8!

The public is invited to join me for a free event to mark World Mental Health Day, to be held October 8 at 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m. at Guelph City Hall.

The event will feature two speakers who will share their perspectives on mental health and resiliency. Debbie Bodkin served as a Sergeant with the Waterloo Regional Police Service for 24 years and worked in overseas missions in Kosovo, Chad and Sudan working with crimes against humanity. She will share her struggle and journey back to mental health. Adrienne Crowder is an expert in the wellness and organizational health fields, having served for many years as an educator, counsellor, researcher, coach and trainer.

As part of the event, an art exhibit called The Community Puzzle: Piecing Together Our Recovery will be on display in the City Hall Galleria. The piece is a Spark of Brilliance project that involved more than 60 people with lived experience of mental health and/or addictions issues. Spark of Brilliance is a community-based mental health initiative that promotes healing, recovery and discovery through the expressive arts.

I’m pleased to continue the tradition of the Mayor’s Initiative for World Mental Health Day, there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues. Together, we need to break through the stigma by talking about it, sharing our stories and learning about local resources.

The event is no cost, but attendees are asked to register at

World Mental Health Day is observed in 112 countries on six continents. The Guelph Mayor’s Initiative was begun in 2000 by former Mayor Joe Young, and has continued annually ever since. It aims to promote mental health, reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, raise awareness of mental health supports available in Guelph and Wellington, and foster positive action among policy-makers.

The Mayor’s Initiative is generously sponsored by the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin; Homewood Health Centre; Spark of Brilliance; Torchlight; Family Counselling and Support Services; and the City of Guelph.

See you there!



A great little video of the tree plantings that occurred out at the Arboretum!


E.A. Danby Award

Recognizing Municipalities for Outstanding Performance Improvement Through Innovative Practices:

The late E.A. Danby was AMCTO’s first President. Mr. Danby demonstrated his vision and innovative spirit when he set out to establish AMCTO over 70 years ago. The E.A. Danby Award recognizes that same spirit of vision, and innovation in Ontario municipalities. This award is presented annually to a municipality that demonstrates, through a specific initiative, a willingness to employ innovative techniques and is able to demonstrate the tangible results of those efforts as they impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the municipal corporation.

Beginning in 2008, the E.A. Danby Award has been redeveloped into a tiered awards program based on size of municipality. Also, beginning with the 2008 E.A. Danby Award, the application criteria has been expanded to include categories for finance, administration and implementation of legislation.

The Award:

  • recognizes and acknowledges significant performance improvement made by municipalities through the use of innovative management activities or practices;
  • enhances the municipality’s image as an attractive community in which to live and work;
  • provides an opportunity for the municipality’s residents to appreciate the work that is being done on their behalf.

This certificate as pictured above was specifically for the Dragon Den program launched a couple of years ago to funnel front-line staff ideas through a process where they could “pitch” their ideas to their colleagues.

One such “pitch” was from two employees from court services that knew that by obtaining and using different software that unpaid fines by individuals could be better tracked down and recovered. They were hoping that the $8,000 investment could give the city back approximately $30,000 in fine revenue. Yet it surpassed that goal with flying colours and more than $100,000 came in! Well done!

Take care,



Reserve funds and adjusted work plans to cover 2015 frozen pipes emergency costs

Preparation for 2016 underway including new policy and budget planning

Guelph, ON, September 30, 2015—The City has determined how costs from this past winter’s frozen pipes emergency will be funded after learning its application for funding from the Province’s Disaster Relief Assistance Program was unsuccessful.

The City already adjusted 2015 work plans to ease some of the budget impacts resulting from the emergency. Reserve funds will be used to cover the rest of the unbudgeted costs.

“We’re disappointed. We believe the severe winter impacts on both the City’s and customers’ pipes met the requirement for emergency provincial assistance,” said Peter Busatto, Water Services plant manager. “Thankfully, we have strong financial planning in place for our water and wastewater utilities so the bottom-line impact isn’t as big as it might have been. We have Council–approved contingency funds that can partially offset emergency-related costs like this. Provincial support would have allowed us to maintain more of our contingency fund to respond to future incidents, and to deliver annual work as planned.”

The final cost from this winter’s frozen pipe emergency is $625,000, which includes $545,000 in expenses and $80,000 of lost revenue from those instructed to run water as a preventative measure, or due to leaks and water main breaks. The $545,000 in expenses will be covered through:

  • allocated winter maintenance budget;
  • reducing or delaying work planned for 2015 where possible;
  • contingency reserve funds approved by Council for the 2015 budget; and
  • rate stabilization reserve funds, by request to Council at year-end

“We’re now looking ahead to the coming winter and what proactive steps can reasonably be taken to prevent frozen pipes,” noted Busatto. “The weather is out of our hands but we can take steps to prevent pipes from freezing and be ready to respond if pipes do freeze. We’ll bring a new policy forward for Council’s consideration in November that explains our updated prevention programs, clarifies roles and responsibilities, and defines the level of support our customers can expect.”

In a letter to the City, Minister Ted McKeekin explained the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s decision was based on the conclusions that estimated costs are within the City’s ability to manage and infrastructure damage due to severe cold weather does not qualify as an unexpected natural disaster.

“We expect and plan for some underground pipe damage due to cold weather every year—that’s just the nature of the business and in a typical year we get less than 10 cases of frozen pipes,” said Busatto. “We didn’t expect what we saw this year. The impact may not be as visible as that of a tornado or ice storm, but the damage caused to underground infrastructure because of a record-breaking cold snap was unprecedented for Guelph and other cities across Ontario.”

With 376 homes or businesses affected, this winter’s frozen pipe emergency was the largest since 1993 when almost 400 customers were affected. In 2014, 85 customers were affected by frozen pipes.

Costs of the frozen pipe emergency include the frozen water assistance program, temporary line hoses, specialized equipment rentals, contracted plumbing support, City labour, and billing adjustments for those instructed by the City to run water taps.

This picture above will forever be etched in my brain –  and my heart! What a moment of excitement for Community of Hearts to find out that they had gained the top prize for this years Oak Tree Project!

So what is the Oak Tree Project?

From their website

Offering a new approach to corporate social responsibility, The Oak Tree Project demonstrates how philanthropy is changing to engage communities and strengthen local nonprofits. The Oak Tree Project was established in 2014 by The Mactaggart Team at Richardson GMP to empower Guelph/Wellington charities with funds and stories about their impact that will help them strengthen their roots and further their long-term success and growth.

 It was a packed house at the newly designed and renovated Art Gallery of Guelph. (I’m going to do a separate blog post on it soon by the way!)
I want to congratulate the MacTaggart Team – Will & Mike – for what they’ve created in our city. They are corporate citizens not afraid to embed social responsibility into their business that makes them and our community better!

I spoke briefly tonight and mentioned to the crowd that there is so much work that goes into an evening like this! So if anyone, from the staff at MacTaggart, to my fellow judges, to corporate sponsors, volunteers and so on that made this happen, please know our city thanks you!

I wasn’t able to get a complete list of all the winners so I’ll try to update this here later, but I heard that Better Beginnings Better Futures was the chosen people’s choice award receiving over $1,000! 

Live music was provided by Guelph’s one and only Adrian Raso, allowing me to sit in on a song! (I was pretty honoured, Adrian is an amazing musician) Ha!

Again, thank you for including me in this project. I’m here to help again next year if you wish!




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