Delegation to City Council: Outdoor Dining District

Sep 22, 2020

Mayor Cam Guthrie called a special meeting of city council on September 21 in an effort to keep the Downtown Dining District open past September 21. Our President & CEO, Shakiba Shayani, delegated at this meeting to support the extension of the Dining District and outdoor patio expansions in the city. Read her presentation below. 


Delegation to Council re: Dining District

Good evening Mayor Guthrie, Councillors and City Staff,  

The Guelph Chamber has been working harder than ever on behalf of our members as we support the business community’s ongoing efforts to recover from the implications of COVID-19.

During my recent presentation to the provincial standing committee on finance and economic affairs, I used the Downtown Guelph Dining District as an example of Guelph’s innovative efforts in supporting a sector of our local business community who has been particularly hard hit during COVID. The idea was formulated during a Mayor’s Task Force meeting about economic recovery. I mentioned that it provided a welcomed infusion of spending to our local restaurants and surrounding businesses and supported the livelihoods of hundreds of employees.

In addition to extending the outdoor dining program, I’m here to ask that we come together, as private businesses, staff, Councillors and community and strive to be better at addressing issues, and generating equitable, compromised solutions together.

There is no perfect playbook on how to economically and socially support a community through a pandemic, but we must all be more agile and less divisive in our efforts.

In that same presentation to the province where I touted the Dining District’s positive impacts, I also underscored the notion that the easing of municipal regulations and reduction of red tape is absolutely required. City Councillors, you make your best efforts to represent your constituents, City Staff, you make your best efforts to develop and execute on recommendations directed by Council. You must understand, however, that it’s frustrating to witness any level of government point to self-imposed, onerous processes and regulations as the barriers to common-sense delivery of services.

Transparency is key to getting everyone on the same page. Potential issues to the extension of the Dining District need to be communicated to all stakeholders, and the community at large with clear and consistent messaging.  

To Guelph businesses - as we pilot and learn from this specific program (in our attempts to maintain the program for years to come), we know there will be continued lessons to learn. Please do connect with us at the Chamber. Our job is to amplify your voices and convene all stakeholders for solution generating opportunities. We can also help connect you with supports so you can embrace digitizing your product and service delivery.

To our community at-large, I hope you will continue to participate safely in opportunities to shop and support local.  


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