Executive Summary: City of Guelph and Wellington County, Ontario

Our Food Future: Executive Summary

Smart Cities Challenge Statement: Guelph‐Wellington will become Canada's first technology-enabled Circular Food Economy, reimagining an inclusive food‐secure ecosystem that increases access to affordable, nutritious food by 50%, where "waste" becomes a resource, 50 new circular businesses and collaborations are created, and circular economic revenues are increased by 50%: 50x50x50 by 2025.

Everyone needs to eat. However, one in six families experience food insecurity, 67 per cent of residents in our region don't consume a healthy diet, and the cost of healthy food keeps increasing. Around the world, more than eight million people are hungry or undernourished, and the global population continues to grow. Meanwhile, in Canada roughly one third of our food is lost or wasted. Much of that ends up in landfill, creating greenhouse gas emissions.

Guelph‐Wellington aims to address these issues by becoming Canada's first circular food economy. Leveraging local expertise, big data and the latest technology, we will transform our food ecosystem into an "urban/rural living lab" where researchers, social innovators, farmers, entrepreneurs and other community partners collaborate to solve complex food problems.

As we describe in Chapters 1–3, Our Food Future will achieve our goals through nine Pathfinder projects:

Goal 1: increase access to affordable, nutritious food by 50 per cent

  • Project 1: assess the Guelph‐Wellington food environment
  • Project 2: create a circular food security and health action plan

Goal 2: create 50 new circular businesses and collaborations

  • Project 3: establish a circular food economy innovation hub (iHub)
  • Project 4: coordinate a "Harve$t Impact Fund" to support circular enterprises
  • Project 5: foster new food economy skills and training

Goal 3: increase circular economic revenues by 50 per cent by unlocking the value of "waste"

  • Project 6: develop and share circular business tools and services
  • Project 7: launch a "reimagine food" campaign
  • Project 8: increase the circularity of carbon credits in the food system
  • Project 9: increase circularity in municipal waste systems to drive innovation along the food value chain

These Pathfinder projects will be supported by:

  • A data and technology strategy — A Data Utility providing secure, transparent access to data (Chapter 7) and a technology strategy to support inclusive and open innovation
  • A comprehensive engagement strategy to create a shared vision and ensure broad-based buy‐in from stakeholders and the community (Chapter 6)
  • Demonstration projects — Community‐driven collaborations supported by Our Food Future that tackle food‐related challenges

In Chapter 4, we lay out how several key smart cities technologies will help drive these projects. An open‐source data collaboration platform will allow stakeholders to share and use different data streams. Meanwhile, a "concierge" platform will serve as the primary user interface for Our Food Future, allowing researchers, students, entrepreneurs, agencies and government to collectively solve food problems. Several other smart technologies will support project‐specific needs — from waste‐collection sensors to distributed ledger technologies (such as blockchain) that track carbon credits.

Our governance model (Chapter 5) includes a Smart City Office to support our workstream tables and project delivery partners. An advisory board of management made up of partner representatives will provide direction and oversight, while a community steering table and expert advisory panel and will provide strategic input and advice.

Robust and inclusive engagement (Chapter 6) will be critical. Through a variety of digital and inperson channels, we will work to ensure everyone sees a role for themselves in this wholesale change initiative, recognizing the diversity of accessibility needs within our community. Our smart initiative also depends on data. Chapter 7 discusses the stringent measures we'll put in place to allow us to gather that data appropriately, manage it securely and protect privacy.

Reaching these milestones will require a $16,755,931 budget, which includes $4,008,375 in inkind contributions from partners and funders (Chapter 8) and application and receipt of pending FedDev funding of $2,747,663.

Chapter 9 lays out our plans to meet relevant municipal, provincial and federal requirements, legislation and policies.

Throughout this proposal, we demonstrate that Our Food Future is replicable. We are committed to using and developing open‐source technology and sharing our learnings, insights and best practices. We are already working with national and global partners to develop a Circular Food Economy Roadmap for others to follow. Our Food Future is also scalable. The success we achieve over the next five years will lead to a sustainable regional food ecosystem. Meanwhile, the technologies and strategies we develop can be applied well beyond the food system.

Finally, Our Food Future has the potential to be truly transformative. We could have made this simple, but the stakes are too high and the opportunity is too great. Data and technology can help enable Canadian innovation, but only if we have a clear vision for the future. Using nature's circular approach as our inspiration, we believe it's possible to ensure people have access to affordable, healthy, nutritious food; reduce the environmental impacts of the food system; and build economic prosperity at the same time: people, planet, prosperity.

Date modified: