Mayor Karen Farbridge delivered her annual State of the City address today, and the message was that Guelph is different than other cities, someplace unique and special. It's a message designed to appeal to Farbridge's base, I think, and one that's unlikely to appeal to any of her critics. However, much like the U.S. President's State of the Union, it's more or less designed as a cheerleading session to remind the people of Guelph what's good and what's going to soon be great about the Royal City.
"Guelph is different. And people are noticing," the address begins. "I am having more conversations where someone comments on Guelph’s uniqueness to me ‐ whether I’m talking to local business owners seeking to attract talent, people who’ve chosen to live in Guelph or those watching from outside what we are achieving as a community."
Amongst those achievements, Farbridge says, are community initiatives like Clean Tech, Agri Tech, Open Data, and wellbeing, and infrastructure projects like Market Square, Guelph Central Station and the Guelph Civic Museum.
"This is the century of the city," Farbridge concluded. "Location matters to people. Let’s make sure we take the lead where it matters most to us.
"The citizens of Guelph care more about each other and about their city. That makes us different. Let’s keep it that way."
The press release marking today's speech, and a link to a copy of the speech itself, are posted below:
Guelph, ON, November 7, 2013 – In her annual State of the City address this morning, Mayor Karen Farbridge said Guelph is successfully differentiating itself to attract talented people and business investment.
“Something different is happening here,” said Mayor Farbridge, outlining Guelph’s leadership in a number of key areas, including municipal policy decisions that are driving innovation; a commitment to open government; a local collaboration on wellbeing; and the transformation of the downtown into a truly urban neighbourhood.
In a competitive market where talented people can follow jobs all over the world, the mayor noted, “The good news is that location matters… and Guelph is a location that has a lot to offer both businesses and people.”
Guelph is enabling innovation by focusing on the city’s best opportunities for economic growth. “Instead of following the crowd, we are building a platform for growth in a broad range of emerging areas such as Clean Tech, Agri Tech, Open Data, and wellbeing,” Mayor Farbridge said.
The City is re-conceiving its various planning, policy and service functions as platforms for economic development and innovation. For example, a commitment to open access to municipal data and information will not only improve local government transparency; it will give rise to new start-ups, products and services. The Guelph Community Wellbeing Initiative will build a healthier community while seeding new opportunities in the emerging health and wellbeing sector.
The mayor cited downtown as one of Guelph’s “difference engines,” saying “it’s widely seen as one of the healthiest downtown cores around. It’s why many people want to locate here.” The City’s priority is to continue to transform this central business district into a truly urban neighbourhood, with targets to raise the downtown residential population by 6,000 and bring in 1,500 more jobs. A number of recent public investments in infrastructure, Market Square, Guelph Central Station and the Guelph Civic Museum have leveraged more than $85 million in private sector investment in condominiums and commercial developments.
Mayor Farbridge concluded by making the case for the municipality to take the lead in securing its economic future, saying, “Cities, not nations, are the engines of development and progress. Immigrants come to cities. Entrepreneurs locate in cities. Growth and opportunity are in cities. In the face of globalization, local is becoming king.”
View the complete text of Mayor Farbridge’s State of the City address.