Delegation to Council: September 12th

Sep 12, 2023

Good evening, Mayor Guthrie, Councillors and City Staff.

We all recognize that the current homelessness, mental health, and substance use ecosystem is struggling – that is not a criticism of any one  person, organization, or institution – but an important acknowledgement that complex problems have overwhelmed the ecosystem that currently exists. 

The consultation and recently released report was intended to be a snapshot of the current state of this ecosystem to gain insight into how we would improve or better align to the complexity of the challenge. On behalf of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce and our members, I would like to thank Liz, Brianne, and the entire Collective Results team as well as DCAO Colleen Clack-Bush, GM Jodie Sales, and the other city staff for  their efforts in helping us move this work forward to-date.  

With the information in front of you, you might be asking: “so how should the ecosystem change and evolve, and what is our role?,” and frankly, the answer is not perfectly clear. In fact, the only thing I am certain of is that there will never be  a perfect answer but there will  always be more to understand and do.  

So now the question becomes, “what do we do with the information we have been presented?” 

The conclusion I was able to make is that our community requires an integrated health and housing plan to address the mental health, substance use, and homelessness challenges before us. 

 The three notable overarching findings that need our collective attention are that: 

  • There are funding barriers to the integrated systems approach  
  • There is a lack of alignment across these service areas 
  • There is no comprehensive governance model with defined roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities to enable integrated activities across these areas 

What was also clear in the report is that the City of Guelph can play a crucial role in orchestrating, alongside pertinent partners, a series of activities to address these  findings.  

As staff noted in the Council memo with stakeholder commentary – there was consensus that we should not yet get bogged down in how to execute the many tactical recommendations that could be undertaken as identified in the report. Because of course we can advocate; but to who and for what exactly? Of course, I can convene the private sector to help, but in service to which plan? I am committed to supporting whatever collective effort is required in answering these questions. 

Finally, I highly recommend that stakeholder engagement opportunities to inform the upcoming staff report are made possible. Last week’s engagement opportunity allowed partners to correct inaccuracies, identify deficiencies, and highlight missing opportunities. The many committed and hardworking service providers, community contributors, and content experts can continue to bring an incredible amount of value and insight into how we can move forward, together.  

Thank you. 

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