Click HERE. I’ll share my thoughts after reading the entire report and materials. I’d love to hear your feedback too! Comment here or email:

Thank you ,




I chaired the first meeting of the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness and Community Safety yesterday. It was a stage-setting meeting where we talked about what the issues are, what’s being done already, and what some potential solutions are. In our next meeting, we will dig in to making a priority list of solutions.

Here are my introductory remarks from the meeting:

Welcome/ Thank you

I want to thank everyone for agreeing to serve on this Task Force. I know you’re all extremely busy – but when I asked for your help, you all immediately said “yes.” Thank you!

The Warden of the County of Wellington, Kelly Linton, has agreed to participate in the Task Force as Co-Chair, but he is unfortunately unable to make our two meetings because of scheduling conflicts. I will be sure to keep him updated. As most of you know, the County delivers Social Services for both the City and the County – including services related to housing, homelessness, income support, and children’s services. There are a number of County staff in the room today, and I am grateful that the County is participating in this initiative.

 Context/ Set the stage

I want to take a couple of minutes to set the stage for the work we’re about to do, and let you know where I’m coming from – and what I hope we will achieve together.

I had two experiences in the Fall that were a bit of a wake-up call for me in terms of the urgency of this issue.

The first was when I visited the tent city that had been set up on York Road and talked to some of the people who lived there.

We all know there are places in the city where people are “living rough.” But I was taken aback by the size and scale of this location. It affected me when I talked to the residents and heard about their struggles with poverty, addictions, and mental health.

I thought, there is no way, in a prosperous city like Guelph, that we can turn a blind eye and accept that people are living like this. We have to do something – and quickly.

The second experience was when I began knocking on doors during the election campaign.

At house after house, on doorstep after doorstep, people were talking about the same thing – safety.

Quite frankly, people are tired of their cars getting broken into. They don’t feel safe walking at night. Children are seeing needles in parks.

This is not something I heard much about 4 years ago. We seem to have reached a tipping point.

Fairly or not, people tend to blame people who are homeless or using drugs for these issues.

At the same time, when we talk about safety, the people most at risk are those who do not have a safe place to sleep every night. They are the ones most at risk of violence. They are the ones most at risk of getting their belongings stolen.

So that’s what brought me to this point. I knew that one of my first priorities in this term of office had to be addressing homelessness and community safety – and the related problems of addictions and mental health.

I also knew that the City cannot tackle these issues on our own. I knew that I needed to bring together the experts, agencies, and community leaders who have been working on this for many years. That’s all of you – So thank you again for answering the call.

Goal/ what I want to achieve

If I could wave a magic wand, my ultimate goal would be to end homelessness in the city of Guelph. Everyone would have the shelter they need. No one would be sleeping in parks or bank machine lobbies.

That means meeting the needs of people with some of the most complex challenges. It’s more than just a bed to sleep on at night. It means meeting all their complex needs – including addiction and mental health supports.

So that’s my big-picture goal. What is my goal for this Task Force?

I want us to come up with a list of things we can do to move the needle on meeting those needs. And then I want us to make a plan to go out and get it done.

I’ve said publicly – I am not looking for more talk. I am looking for action.

That means we need to focus on things we can do soon. We need to focus on ideas that have already been studied and evaluated. We need to focus on ideas that are doable and achievable.

I boil it down to 3 criteria for potential solutions:

  1. Is it feasible?
  2. Does it have enough impact on the problem?
  3. Is it sustainable? Can we keep it going?

Plan for meetings:

We’re going to have two meetings.

In the first meeting today, we’re going to hear some presentations that focus on the problems we’re trying to solve, and offer some potential solutions.

Next week, we’re going to compile the list of potential solutions – including any that Task Force members want to add – and plot them on an impact-effort matrix. This will help us decide which solutions rise to the top, in terms of something that is achievable and will make a difference as soon as possible.


Final words:

These are not simple issues – they are issues that every municipality faces, and no one has yet found a magic solution to them.

We are going to be talking about difficult issues, and I know there are going to be some uncomfortable moments. I will be challenging you, and please don’t be afraid to challenge me too.

All that I ask is that everyone be as open and candid as possible. We are all in this together.

Introduction of presentations:

I have said all along that I want to amplify and build on the great work that is already happening in our city around these issues.

There are two groups that have been at the forefront: The Guelph-Wellington Poverty Task Force and the Wellington-Drug Strategy.

These two groups receive funding from the City and the County. They are collaborations of many different front-line organizations and agencies. They have a good handle on the issues and the potential solutions.

I’m very pleased that these groups have offered to give presentations to us today, to set the stage for the work ahead. I want to thank Dominica MacPherson, who heads up the Poverty Task Force, and Adrienne Crowder, who leads the Drug Strategy – not only for their work in getting this Task Force going, but for the work they have done for many years on these issues in our community.

With that, I will welcome up Dominica McPherson and Ryan Pettipiere, Director of Housing for the County of Wellington, who will be giving the first presentation.


Here are my notes that I took during the meeting:

  • $733 a month for Ontario Works
  • April 2018 Time count
  • 261 Individuals found to be experiencing homelessness in Guelph
  • 22% said addiction or substance abuse
  • Coordinated Entry System – Moving from managing to a response method that was “coordinated”
  • It was a tracking system, knowing them by name
  • Philosophy = Housing first – this is the key!
  • Chronic – Defined as 6 or more months within the last year
  • Data informed approach – allows to track progress
  • They created a team in Guelph – to set local goals – # of active individuals is going down. So it’s working but more needs to be done.
  • Need to strengthen relationships with institutions (like prisons)
  • Story of Rene and Bob
  • High level criminals aren’t seen and may want to hurt your family, the low-level is seen, that’s why a bike is stolen or tools are stolen from a truck
  • Affordable housing reserve
  • WGDS
  • Four pillars are = Harm Reduction, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery, Community Safety
  • Supportive recovery room
  • Ambulance calls are increasing and increasing
  • Addictions Court Support Worker needed


Next meeting is Jan 24th where we will nail down clear recommendations to be forwarded onto the right agency or partner. Also financial or budgetary asks will be sent to the right place if required.

Thank you to everyone involved so far! If you have any suggestions please feel free to email:

I’m very excited to share the outcome of a motion I brought forward to council last year directing staff to review opportunities within our surplus assets policies for the city to engage with local groups that may be in need of items that can benefit them.

Items such as desks, chairs, computers, cabinets, projectors, printers and so on…

It will align with the Community Well Being Grants issued on an annual basis.

The information report released today outlines:

Next steps will be:

The link to this entire report is HERE, so you can read it yourself. (Scroll down about 5 pages to start the report) I’m just providing some of the highlights above.

I hope our Guelph community groups take a look at this, and use it, while this pilot is being run.

Take care,


We Need Your Feedback #Guelph!


Share your thoughts on Guelph’s waste bylaw and service

Complete the online survey by December 12

Guelph, Ont., November 14, 2018 – It’s time to update our waste management bylaw and review City waste services! We’re looking for your feedback on programs such as household hazardous waste disposal to help us make sure you get the most from the services the City offers.

If you live or manage property in Guelph, we want to hear from you. Take our online survey by December 12.

The City is also conducting a telephone survey in the community between November 14 and December 12, and hosting face-to-face meetings with key stakeholder groups, including the Guelph Wellington Developers Association / Guelph Wellington Home Builders Association, multi-residential property managers, and the Downtown Advisory Committee. The City will also communicating with health facilities.

Your feedback will help us make decisions about:

  • Multi-residential waste collection
  • Possible changes to what materials are accepted in the green cart
  • Property waste carts limits
  • Hours of operation for the household hazardous waste depot

The purpose of the Waste Management Bylaw update is to improve overall waste service efficiency and delivery; meet new multi-residential waste collection needs; remove references to the old manual bagged waste collection system, and align with the recommendations of the Solid Waste Resources business service review.


About the Waste Management Bylaw update

For more information

Heather Connell, Manager, Integrated Services
Solid Waste Resources
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2082

top ten

Guelph makes Culture Days’ top 10 list for fourth year!

Guelph, Ont., November 2, 2018– Guelph has made the Top Ten Cities and Towns list for their Culture Days celebrations in 2018.

Guelph placed eighth in the “Populations of 50,000 to 499,999” category. This is Guelph’s fourth year in a row placing in the top 10.

“It is wonderful to see Guelph’s creative community celebrated at this national level,” says Stacey Dunnigan, manager of Culture and Tourism for the City of Guelph. “Congratulations to everyone who created, participated and shared in this annual celebration of arts and culture.”

Guelph hosted over 45 different activities, events and exhibitions during the ninth annual Culture Days weekend at the end of September, including the second annual Culture Hub and Makers Market at Market Square and City Hall.

Each year, Culture Days releases the Top Ten Cities and Towns list, a highly anticipated ranking of the communities with the most registered activities during the recent Culture Days weekend. Milton topped the list in Guelph’s population bracket along with Oakville, Burlington, Richmond, North Vancouver, Halton Hills, Kelowna, and Waterloo. Kingston and Saskatoon tied for tenth place.

Planning has already started for the tenth annual Culture Days weekend running September 27, 28 and 29, 2019. Interested individuals, organizations and businesses are invited to attend a planning and brainstorming session on Wednesday December 5 from 5–6 p.m. at City Hall.

For a full list of 2018 Culture Days highlights and photos visit

About Culture Days:

 Culture Days raises the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities. Starting on the last Friday in September every year, Culture Days takes place in hundreds of cities and towns throughout the country. During this annual three-day celebration, thousands of passionate individuals, organizations, municipalities and partners come together to host free participatory public activities, bringing together millions of Canadians.

Media Contact:

Stacey Dunnigan, Manager of Culture and Tourism

Culture, Tourism and Community Investment
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2533