The Next Four Years….

Over the past few months I have been asking residents and businesses about their priorities for the next four years. Common themes are livability, the need for more meaningful public engagement and taking care of our aging infrastructure.

Community Livability

Guelphites want to live, work, study and play in an attractive, safe, accessible and affordable City that encourages and supports the wellbeing of all residents.

This means we need to support:

  • Environmentally sustainable development — whether it be intensification or new growth
  • A range of safe and reliable transportation choices
  • Economic diversity and innovation
  • Community policing
  • Active and passive recreational opportunities for all ages
  • More affordable housing through collaboration and partnerships
  • Diverse communities and neighbourhoods
  • Vibrant public spaces for social connection
  • Programs for those struggling to finding access to adequate housing, food, and needed social service
  • Protection of our natural and cultural heritage

Community Engagement

The City is currently engaging with residents and businesses on a 10 year Community Plan. We have already heard that 50% of people in Guelph believe their voices shape municipal decisions. We can do better. Guelph has a robust community engagement framework but we clearly have to look at where we are falling short. I think we should consider more innovative ways of engaging our residents. Recently, I have heard suggestions of putting a Community Engagement Office on the main floor of City Hall. Citizens would have an opportunity to access information on all of the ongoing consultation processes and provide feedback. Another idea was to start various engagement processes with a educational event that would include speakers or a panel on the subject. I like these ideas and would love to hear more. Do you have any suggestions about what it would take to help you to be more involved and engaged?

Infrastructure Renewal

The City recently developed its first Asset Management Plan. The Plan will help identify and monitor conditions, lifecycle costs and a financing strategy to deal with our aging infrastructure. Many of us think of roads and sidewalks when we hear the word infrastructure but it actually encompasses much more than that.  Cultural and recreational facilities, buses, and technology are a few of the other ‘infrastructure assets’. Like most other communities in Ontario, there is a significant backlog of work that needs to be done. Guelph’s is close to a $500 million shortfall. While some of this will be financed through funds from other levels of government and fees like water and wastewater, we need to support sustainable budgeting like the current 1% infrastructure levy to close the gap on the infrastructure shortfall.

I would love to hear what you think are the priorities for the next four years.

Contact me to meet your group or for a one on one chat.

519-829-5912
cathydowner@rogers.com