Guelph, Wellington County win $10M prize in Smart Cities Canada Challenge

The City of Guelph and County of Wellington’s joint proposal has won the $10 million prize in the federal government’s Smart Cities Canada Challenge.

The bid was announced as one of two winners during a ceremony in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon.

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The “Our Food Future” plan aims to help the community create a circular food economy and move away from the current “take-make-dispose” system.

“Our vision is a food system where everyone has enough healthy food to eat, nothing is wasted and the environmental footprint is a lot smaller,” Mayor Cam Guthrie said after receiving the prize.

“We’re going to turn this vision into a reality.”

The plan involves three goals: increasing access to affordable and nutritious food by 50 per cent, creating 50 new circular food business and collaboration opportunities, and increasing economic revenues by 50 per cent by reducing or transforming food waste.

Guthrie said it’s an idea that could potentially create a legacy for Guelph.

“I can’t imagine the legacy we’re going to try and leave. Not just for the city of Guelph, not just for the province of Ontario and not for our country, but for the entire world,” he said.

The joint proposal was submitted in March after nine months of planning involving more than 150 community partners, the County of Wellington said in a statement.

“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,” Wellington County Warden Kelly Linton said.

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The city and county project coordinators are expected to spend the summer building the leadership and governance structure, and creating a detailed project plan. They will also be establishing a Smart Cities office.

An update on what happens next will be provided to stakeholders in the Fall.

More information on “Our Food Future” can be found on their website.

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