CEO Speech: 2022 Budget Delegation to City Council

Nov 18, 2021

Good evening Mayor Guthrie, City Councillors and staff. I am delegating to you on behalf of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce and our members, regarding the 2022 budget.

Like most others, I thought we might be in a different place by this council meeting, instead, my budget delegation will start similarly to the one from last year. Unfortunately, businesses continue to struggle to navigate their way through this public health and economic crisis and we still look to all levels of government to be nimble and responsive to the ever-evolving realities.

There are extraordinary pressures on businesses right now. Even those who have not been as negatively impacted by shutdowns, they are struggling to respond to labour and supply-chain shortfalls. The cost of goods and living are skyrocketing and won’t spare most. The thought of additional tax increases seems unfathomable.

Economic recovery needs intentional and strategic investment. I hope your investment and prioritization decisions keep the cost and ease of doing business top of mind. I encourage you to be mindful about how the investment carves a nimble path forward to foster the safe, sustainable, and inclusive growth strategies that are desperately needed.   

I’ll provide an overview of a few budget item considerations that would help:

Like you, we know that a strong and thriving downtown is a major stimulator for city-wide economic growth and is certainly a revenue generator for municipal efforts. This is why I am working alongside City staff, Police, the DGBA and social and health service providers to support the businesses and community members downtown. Ensuring downtown businesses are receiving the support they need to respond to challenging situations appropriately, while meeting the needs of vulnerable populations is critical; the Welcoming Streets Initiative must continue to be funded.

Additionally, supporting the creation of a high-frequency, transfer-based network is needed by employers struggling to hire and retain staff. A public transportation system that takes people where they need and want to go with frequency that is reliable, enables communities to attract additional economic development. According to the Canadian Urban Transit Association, for every $1 invested in transit, there is an economic spinoff of $3.

Finally, Guelph businesses will continue to need the support of our local business service agencies to reimagine how to operate going forward. As the City prepares to launch a new Economic Development Strategy, investing in Guelph’s critical business support agencies will ensure my partners in the ecosystem, are resourced to actively support its implementation. I ask that Council give serious consideration to staff’s requested investment for Economic Development Servicing Agreements.

A strong business network fosters a strong community, a thriving community enables a strong business network. Let’s be united in our vision and efforts for a better, stronger Guelph.