Guelph and Wellington win Smart Cities Challenge

OTTAWA – Guelph and Wellington County will receive $10 million from Infrastructure Canada to implement the municipalities’ Smart Cities vision: Our Food Future, Canada’s first circular food economy.

The local proposal was selected as the top entry in its population category (up to 500,000) at an awards gala in Ottawa on May 14.

The joint proposal from the City of Guelph and Wellington County was submitted in early March after nine months of planning involving more than 150 community partners. 

The program will now move ahead in tackling three goals:

– 50% increase in access to affordable, nutritious food;

– 50 new circular food business and collaboration opportunities; and

– 50% increase in economic revenues by reducing or transforming food waste.

“This award is a testament to the great work of everyone who contributed to this team effort,” said Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie. “We are grateful to the Government of Canada for this significant investment in food security and innovation.”

In live streamed remarks from the gala, county Warden Kelly Linton called the win “a great honour,” noting there was “real tough competition” in the category.

“This challenge has truly inspired us,” said Linton. “It has inspired us to be more innovative and collaborative and has inspired the County of Wellington and City of Guelph to work together to strengthen our rural-urban partnership and evaluate our communities, our food systems and our unique perspectives. So this prize is going to have a huge, huge impact in our communities, not only over the course of the next five years, but for many years to come.”

Linton said the Wellington-Guelph project will result in a circular food economy “roadmap” that can be followed by other municipalities in the future.

“Food availability, food security, cost of disposal … are issues that impact all of us on a daily basis,” the warden stated.

A joint press release from the city and county states project coordinators will spend the summer building the leadership and governance structure, creating a detailed plan and establishing an office. 

A progress update will be provided to the community in the fall.