Letter to City Council on Safe Use of Public Spaces

Feb 9, 2024

To Mayor Cam Guthrie and members of Guelph City Council: 

I am writing regarding the February 14th Special City Council Meeting Agenda item 2.1 Public Space Use Bylaw.

For over a year, I have worked alongside city staff, social and health service providers, the Guelph Police Service, the Downtown Guelph Business Association and other community stakeholders to try and establish a ‘whole of community’ approach to addressing the needs of people struggling with substance abuse, mental health, and homelessness. 

As co-chair of the Strategic Advisory on Downtown Guelph, and then again through collective efforts of our community-led housing coalition, we identified early the need to solve for some of the most acute challenges facing our downtown core. 

To that end, I am glad to finally see a discussion regarding safe public spaces for all come forward. I am certain that City of Guelph staff alongside their counterparts at the County of Wellington, and in coordination with those with lived experiences and with other relevant agencies and stakeholders, can determine how best to meet the needs of community members in both the immediate, short and long term. 

We continue to acknowledge the immensely difficult experiences of businesses, their employees, as well as individuals and families that spend time downtown. Just a few months ago we received a letter from one of our members who described a terrible occurrence experienced by one of his staff while leaving work. This letter has been disseminated to the Chamber and DGBA network. I have attached a copy of the letter for your reference. 

As always, do not hesitate to leverage the Chamber and the assets our network has access to, so we can respond with the urgency and bias for action this crisis requires of us all. 


Shakiba Shayani 
President & CEO 
Guelph Chamber of Commerce