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Smart Cities celebrates four years in Guelph-Wellington

Guelph-Wellington Smart Cities are celebrating four years of putting unused food to good use.

There was an event held at the River Run Centre in Guelph on Wednesday to highlight the accomplishments done by Our Food Future and Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) initiatives.

There was also a tour of a warehouse on Huron Street where The Seed food distribution operates that was part of the event.

Close to 100 people attended the invitation-only event. There was food served using ingredients that had been earmarked for disposal. Guest speakers included Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie and Wellington County Warden Andy Lennox.

“We set out four years ago with investment funding from Infrastructure Canada for Our Food Future, and we received additional funding from FedDev Ontario,” said Andrew Telfer, executive director of Smart Cities Office.

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“We have 17 different KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and we are pleased with all of them.”

Guelph-Wellington Smart Cities also showed off some of the awards that they received including the 2022 Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Communities Award in the waste category.

“We really see the value of the circular economy for helping the community achieve its climate goals,” said Ashley Cooper, Guelph’s manager of food equity and community resiliency.

“We’ve got greenhouse gas tonnes saved today from our program that we are sharing here. But we really see the value of this work to help us become a more sustainable community.”

Guelph-Wellington was one of the first communities in Canada to develop and implement the Smart Cities initiative. The model that was developed for Guelph-Wellington is now being used in other communities across Canada and around the world.

“We saw ourselves as a living laboratory as a test band where we piloted the projects, and tested the ideas,” said Telfer. “Our success has been recognized. It has been very much part of our mandate to scale our work, replicate it, so it drives the transition of the circular economy across Canada.”

Though the Smart Cities Office will soon be closing once the funding ends, Telfer says the work on the many initiatives will continue.

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“We are implementing transition plans, implementing food coordinators to continue the projects under Our Food Futures and COIL.”

Cooper says they have been able to increase access to affordable, nutritious food thanks to Smart Cities and a lot of their collaborators will continue to coordinate food access efforts.

“Over 12 per cent in our region are food insecure. We have a lot of energy and collaborative work happening to make it easier to get food to people.”


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