Guelph hits the brakes on new capital projects to lower expected tax hike

Rendering new Guelph Central Library
Rendering of the new Guelph Central Library

Ontario Construction News staff writer

All new capital projects are on hold in the City of Guelph, after Mayor Cam Guthrie issued three mayoralty orders to reduce the projected property tax increase.

According to a story published by GuelphToday this week, CAO Scott Stewart informed council in an email that “any capital projects planned for this year that come with operating costs for 2025 and have not yet begun are paused until they can be fully reviewed.”

South End Community Centre renderingCapital projects already started will not be impacted, including the new central library and South End Community Centre.

Mayor Cam Guthrie signed three mayoral orders on Feb. 28, directing city staff to:

  • Establish the 2025 confirmation budget at a property tax impact of under four (4) per cent. Including information on free transit for high school students.
  • Identify real estate opportunities for underutilized city-owned assets, including City-owned surface parking lots, which can be transformed into housing.
  • Present Council with information about the logistics, costs and processes required to establish a temporary structured encampment site for those currently experiencing homelessness.
Cam Guthrrie
Mayor Cam Guthrie

“I am using the strong mayor powers to explore creative solutions to create much-needed housing, address homelessness and present a more affordable outlook on property taxes for our residents and businesses,” Guthrie said. “I look forward to working with staff, council and the community to move these issues forward in a meaningful and positive manner to ensure that these challenges are addressed.”

On March 4 Mayor Guthrie posted 15 “facts on housing” to update the community of council’s progress to tackle the current housing crisis.

Another rendering of the Central Library
Another rendering of the Central Library

“Some have been asking what Guelph has been up to this last year (2023) on housing efforts. Keep in mind, cities approve housing and don’t build them,” he said. “There’s always more to do, always, but council, staff and the development community that have put foundations in the ground need to be applauded for what is transpiring in our community.

“Let’s keep making things easier and get even more shovels in the ground! We can do this! And we can do it with positive relationships, community encouragement and continuous learning with a willingness to change for the better.”

Here are the points the mayor shared:

  • Permits issued were higher in 2023, highest since 2016.
  • Approved housing units were higher in 2023 than the year prior.
  • There will be 108 supportive housing units opening within a 12 month period to help with those experiencing homelessness.
  • Days to flow housing applications through planning departments have gone from 190 days to approximately 52.
  • Capital projects are aligned to help with infrastructure on unlocking more housing.
  • Approved comprehensive zoning reforms create more “as of right” housing than ever before.
  • Guelph eliminated exclusionary zoning before the province requested it.
  • Guelph approved four-units as of right before any requirements from the province.
  • Guelph is one of the first cities in Ontario looking to approve as of right for more than 4 units.
  • Only 13 cities met the criteria for building housing across the province in 2023.
  • Guelph was one of only 20 per cent successful cities across Canada to receive the Federal Housing Accelerator funds of over $21 million to help speed up and create even more housing.
  • After years of working to rebuild and restore relationships, the city and county has agreed to come back together on a joint committee for social services to have Guelph’s council have greater influence (although not the final say) on housing and homelessness.


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