Delegation to City Council on Housing in Guelph - Actions and Responses

Oct 17, 2023

Good afternoon, Mayor Guthrie, Councillors and City Staff. 

Today I have three key messages to convey: 

1. Thank you 

I’d like to reiterate my thanks to staff and council for your efforts in continuing to move forward with this important work. Like everyone here today, staff and council recognize how important it is that our community continue to support the most vulnerable among us.   

 I’d like to recognize the effort and perseverance of the many social and health service providers in Guelph. Success to date is because capable and committed people are doing extraordinary work within a chronically underfunded system. I’d like to also recognize the significant financial and in-kind contributions of volunteers and donors in our community. We are a community that cares. 

 2. Urgency  

As acknowledged at your September 12th meeting, our community desperately requires an integrated health and housing plan to address the mental health, substance use, and homelessness challenges before us. This is a crisis. 

To that end, I believe that we must prioritize and coordinate our activities in operationalizing permanent supportive housing projects, reimagining our shelter ecosystem to include daytime facilities, and press forward with other options for emergency housing needs as winter quickly approaches. 

I also believe that a Symposium is a critical launching pad for the work and collaboration that is required, and I would urge that this event takes place before the end of the year.   

I am pleased to hear of the recent hirings of the Development Advisor and Housing Stability Advisor roles to increase staff capacity. My hope is that they are able to tackle these priorities quickly. 

3. Please don’t forget about the need for an effective structure to ensure collaborative, coordinated and accountable actions. 

Several recommendations have been brought forward to you, but there is a significant one missing – a version of ‘system recommendation #3’ as identified in the Collective Results report. During data collection and through stakeholder engagement it was identified that there is a siloed approach across the mental health, substance use and homelessness service areas, and that needs to be addressed in order to facilitate better collaboration and coordination. To effectively solve for this, we need a structure that can set priorities, activate resources, and be held accountable for progress.  

Just a couple of weeks ago, community leaders, many of whom are in the room today, had the opportunity to hear and learn about a similar journey in London, Ontario; one that included acknowledging the crisis, that established a bias toward action, and the successful development of a “whole of community response” structure and philosophy that I believe can be an inspiration for us all.  

Our collective counterparts in London have offered materials and contacts as resources for us to leverage. We don’t need to start anything from scratch and the Chamber network would be happy to help identify any additional resources and partners to accelerate this planning.  

I’ll wrap by taking a brief moment to highlight our network, regularly exemplifying that business at its best is about making our community better. From champions like Skyline who have donated their time and capital, and to the homebuilders and developers who are putting in the work to be better partners with the City and make progress across the housing continuum, for our community.  

Thank you again for your time and commitment on this important work. As ever the Guelph Chamber is your partner. Let’s keep going. 

*To review our Community Led Housing Campaign, please click here.*