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Guelph, Wellington County team up to try and win $10 million government contest

Joint entry would see the area develop a circular food economy to increase access to affordable, nutritious food
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Mayor Cam Guthrie speaks at the announcement Friday at City Hall that Guelph and Wellington County are teaming up to try and win a $10 million government grant. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday

The City of Guelph and Wellington County have their eye on a $10 million prize that would help create an ongoing plan for the area to address the need for healthy, affordable and sustainable food.

The federal government is holding a Smart Cities Challenge, inviting municipalities to come up with unique, innovative and “outside the box” projects.

The winning municipality gets up to $10 million to implement its plan.

The joint Guelph/Wellington application is to create Canada’s “first circular food economy in order to ensure affordable, healthy, and sustainable food for all.”

The proposed plan was unveiled at Guelph City Hall Friday morning.

Guelph’s plan calls for nine specific study and research elements aimed at key three areas: nutritious food, circular jobs/businesses and using waste as a resource.

“Within each of the three areas, we have nine perspective projects that want to use the funding for,” said Cathy Kennedy, the city’s Manager of Policy and Intergovernmental Relations who spearheaded the application process.

The end goal of all the study and research is a practical one: to create a circular food economy that reduces waste, creates jobs, increases the local food economy and, most importantly, increases access to affordable and nutritious food by 50 per cent.

“Without a doubt our proposal hits the bulls eye on this issue (food waste) that’s critical in Canada and across the world,” said city CAO Derrick Thomson.

The proposed plan is one that would be sustainable moving forward in some form.

The 10 finalists from across the country will be announced this summer and awarded $250,000 to come up with a detailed business plan for their proposals.

The winner will be announced sometime in early 2019.

Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie said the contest is a call to municipalities to identify a complex social problem and then propose a new way of solving that problem using “innovation, data and connected technology.”

“They asked us to be bold and think outside the box. They asked us to collaborate with the brightest minds in our communities,” Guthrie said.

Wellington County Warden Dennis Lever said the proposal is “the perfect marriage between the strengths of the county and the strengths of the city.”

Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield was also on hand Friday.

“This is a great application to show how urban and rural can work together,” said Longfield, who will be promoting the bid on Parliament Hill, although the eventual contest winner will be decided by an independent panel.




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