Guelph is a Smart City, and Has the $10 Million to Prove It

Guelph and Wellington County’s proposal for a Circular Food Economy was a winner for Infrastructure Canada. The plan to increase access to nutritious food, reduce food waste and create new agri-business opportunities was the recipient of one of two $10 million prizes in a ceremony held Tuesday afternoon.

“We are proud and honoured to have been selected from amongst so many worthy and deserving communities,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie in a statement. “This award is a testament to the great work of everyone who contributed to this team effort. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for this significant investment in food security and innovation.”

“Guelph-Wellington is rich in agriculture,” added Kelly Linton, County of Wellington Warden. “This win provides both the City and the County the opportunity to strengthen our urban-rural partnership and lean into our strengths in food innovation. We look forward to working with our community to move this important work forward.”

Guelph-Wellington made the short list last summer and received $250,000 to further develop the proposal. Since then, the UK-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation endorsed the Guelph-Wellington plan as having the potential to save tens-of-millions of dollars in food-related costs. In February, the State of Queensland and the City of Brisbane in Australia announced that they were supporting the efforts to build a Circular Food Economy by collaborating on shared practices, data, and technologies.

The project will bring together over 150 community partners to tackle three main goals: 50 per cent increase in access to affordable, nutritious food; 50 new circular food business and collaboration opportunities; and 50 per cent increase in economic revenues by reducing or transforming food waste. The University of Guelph, Conestoga College, the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, Maple Leaf Foods, and the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute are among the established partners for the project.

“Congratulations to finalists and winners of Canada’s first-ever Smart Cities Challenge. The work you have put into developing your proposals and to improving the lives of your residents is huge,” said Minister of Infrastructure and Communities François-Philippe Champagne in a statement.

“Your efforts will benefit your communities, and also communities across the country who may be facing similar challenges. You are shining examples of Canadian ingenuity and innovations at its best and I am immensely proud.”

The other winner of the Smart Cities Challenge in the $10 million category are the communities of Nunavet for a life promotion approach to suicide prevention, while the Town of Bridgewater, NS won $5 million for its plan to reduce energy poverty. The City of Montreal was the big winner for its proposal to improve mobility and access to food. They get a $50 million prize.

You can listen to the episode of the Guelph Politicast about Guelph-Wellington’s Smart Cities proposal with Cathy Kennedy and Barbara Swartzentruber here.

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