A Happy New Year Guelph!
Well, here comes 2022. I’m sitting on my couch with my dog Rogue (pictured) and perhaps like the two of us you’re just glad 2021 is over. And although there were things to celebrate in 2021, COVID certainly continued to overshadow a lot of it.
Before I get into the typical mayoral “outlook thoughts” on 2022 I just wanted to say thank you to the citizens, businesses and non-profits/charities for all their ongoing support for this city. You stepped up individually and you stepped up as corporations for many in need. Government cannot and should not do it all, so thank goodness each of you looked for ways to fill the voids and fill the needs of so many.
Thank you to City of Guelph staff from the frontlines to our executive team. Everyday was something new and much of what we collectively do is a result of upper government’s decisions. Pivoting wasn’t just a catchphrase, it became an every day expectation.
Thanks to City Council as well. We might not agree unanimously on all issues but your commitment to the residents you serve doesn’t go unnoticed. (To the citizens: If you’ve read this far, remind yourself at the end of this post to reach out to them and thank them for what they do!)
For my final thanks I just want to give a shout out to the frontline workers in our healthcare community. You are the stars of our city and somehow you continue to shine bright. I honestly don’t know how you do it. Day in and day out for the last two years to battle this virus on top of taking care of your own well-being and potentially your own families is miraculous. Whether you’re in our emergency services, hospital, pharmacies, our public health unit, long-term care, mental health organizations and more…just know that I’m thinking and praying for you all for continued strength as we enter 2022.
So onto 2022 we go. I’m feeling full of optimism for this coming year. The high vaccination rates and (so far) the data and real life experiences of Omicron in our healthcare facilities are showing that it isn’t overwhelming our current hospital capacity. This makes me hopeful and I hope you’re hopeful too! Of course we can’t let our guard down and should continue to take things seriously while adhering to public health guidelines – That’s a given – But hopeful I am!
We’ve got some bigger items of discussion coming to our community as well in 2022. Our transportation master plan, parks and recreation master plans, our economic development strategy including tourism and several new growth and zoning policies (Clair to Maltby Secondary Plan) that lay the foundation of how we’ll look and feel as we welcome (through Provincial legislation) about 60,000 new people by 2051. New actions being taken by council on climate change and further adoption of policies to uphold our equity, diversity and inclusion goals/values will be ongoing. So please become engaged on these and other matters. It’s important we hear your voice prior to the final decisions being made at Council. Keep up to date on my blog at: www.mayorguthrie.com
Community Safety is also a continuous focus of mine as we enter 2022. I campaigned on this in 2018 and the changes are finally being realized. With Council’s support for on-boarding new policing staff and with operational changes being implemented by our Chief of Police I can say with certainty that we should start to see results. 2022 will have a full compliment unit dedicated to the downtown core (link: https://globalnews.ca/news/8196471/downtown-guelph-police-officers/amp/ ) and an established B.E.A.T team (break and enters, auto theft) unit to address ongoing issues of these types of crimes occurring (link: https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/guelph-police-beat-team-to-become-permanant-fixture-4776245 ). I won’t let up on being a broken record for my advocacy to upper levels of government next year on bail and justice reform especially on repeat offenders that create massive problems in our community. Not just for our police services, but for the victims of crime that aren’t seeing justice served. It’s not right. Our police do their job and the justice system is often failing them. The social services available to many who struggle with addictions that can only be fulfilled through crime is also failing these individuals too. We can’t arrest our way out of these problems but we can’t ignore them and pretend it’s not impacting our citizens and businesses either. You can read more about that here: https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/guelph-police-report-shows-20-repeat-suspects-charged-with-1200-offences-over-last-17-months-3884723
2022 is another year of growth for the continued “Guelph Shops” campaign.
Don’t make your default the big online companies to get what you need. Our local shops are your local neighbours and friends who own, operate or provide employment. These are the ones who have been hit the hardest with lockdowns and they’re going to need our help in 2022 and beyond. Many have their own online shopping experience and offer local delivery or pickup options. After you’ve supported them by opening your wallet don’t forget to promote them too! Take a picture and post it on your social media or fill out an online review for them! That goes a long way! Businesses aren’t the only thing to support though, let’s not forget our independent arts groups or musicians too! Our Guelph Arts Council can connect you to the right people here: www.guelpharts.ca
2022 will see decisions already made by council last year but where the community will actively see work started on the South End Recreational Center and the Baker Street redevelopment.
I’m really looking forward to this summer too. The amount of people I constantly see outside taking in amenities such as parks, sports fields, bike paths, trails and our many outdoor patios (both downtown and across the city), was phenomenal. It’s just nice to see people in real life too and not on Zoom.
As we continue to maintain and grow our existing city infrastructure such as roads, bridges (and yes even fixing those potholes) into 2022, I’d ask us all to maintain the momentum on fixing the infrastructure for our most vulnerable in the city. People are more important than potholes, but I’m glad Guelph knows how to do both. This past year approvals for three supportive housing projects was a turning point in our community. But it didn’t solve homelessness, or addictions and poverty. There is much more to do in 2022. Plans alongside the County of Wellington to end homelessness by 2023 is still our collective goal but we must acknowledge that COVID has thrown a wrench into these issues and more than likely increased the number of people experiencing them. That’s why we must be even more dedicated to these issues. Compiled info can be found here: https://guelph.ca/city-hall/mayor-and-council/mayors-office/mayors-task-force-on-homelessness-and-community-safety/
There’s so much more for 2022 I may not have covered but my hope is that this can be a primer for the things that need to be on your radar as these are the things I’m looking forward to tackling for the community next year.
Keep these two links below bookmarked! They’re important for you!
1. Have Your Say on City projects!
2. How Can We Help You for operational questions or concerns you may have!
As always, feel free to reach out to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you need me or on social media.
Take care Guelph! Stay safe and be kind to one another! Happy New Year and let’s make 2022 a great year together!