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City Reports on Building Review Progress

Web posted on July 13, 2017

Guelph, Ont., July 2017 - City staff has pledged to help businesses and builders "get to yes" as they navigate the process of moving a business to Guelph, and apply for planning and development approvals.

The "building partnerships" mandate follows the completion of Guelph's Integrated Operational Review; an overhaul of the City's planning and economic development processes. The review took five years and involved more than 70 staff members from Guelph's planning, building, economic development, parks and recreation, engineering, City Clerk's office, corporate communications, and information technology departments.

"Overseeing new planning applications, residential or commercial developments, and inquiries from large corporations interested in locating their businesses here involves several city departments and our community. We took apart pieces of the puzzle, examined how we could improve the customer experience, and re-assembled it all with one goal: making it easier for businesses to do business with city hall," says Scott Stewart, the City's deputy chief administrative officer of infrastructure, development and enterprise services.

On Monday, City Council received the final report about the review and learned that 21 recommendations are complete or will be completed by the end of the year. Two other recommendations will not be implemented based on consultation with business stakeholders, and will be addressed in other ways.

The City initiated the Integrated Operational Review in 2012. A year later, after hearing from real estate developers and other businesses who regularly work with city hall, the City began tackling 23 recommendations designed to improve fragmented and at times frustrating processes.

Today, businesses are telling the City they've noticed some big improvements thanks to:

  • new checklists, guidelines, planning documents and web content that make processes straightforward and clear
  • a triage protocol that defines the best process and assembles the right team for each application
  • a mandatory project kick-off meeting and regular team meetings involving all key staff involved in the file
  • new project management software that centralizes all information and enables more efficient customer service and communications
  • enhanced staff training in areas such as professional development and customer service

The City's performance measures tell the same story: development applications are completed more quickly, with fewer internal or client meetings and fewer revisions.

"Our team has always had a mindset to build partnerships with businesses that want to work with us. Now we have a more cohesive team, and better tools, processes and management structure to support that goal," says Todd Salter, Guelph's general manager of planning, urban design, and building services.

The City acknowledges the work is far from over and has called its commitment to continuous improvement "listen, learn, lead". Guelph will keep measuring its performance and updating processes to make it easier for business to do business with city hall.

About the City of Guelph
Guelph is a growing, diverse and vibrant community of more than 130,000 people, located about 100 kilometres west of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Guelph's community partners and business leaders are making a difference locally and globally in agri-food, technology, environmental enterprise and advanced manufacturing industries.

The city's healthy local economy, thriving arts and culture scene, charming neighbourhoods, parks and green spaces make Guelph among the most livable cities in Canada.

About the Milieu Cities Platform Launching soon
The City of Guelph is working with Milieu to develop and test a complete community engagement system for planning and development applications.

The Milieu Cities platform shows a map of proposed development applications in Guelph. It also shows related documents and drawings, and the status of each application. It's easy to sign in to submit questions and comments directly to the City.

The real power lies in Milieu's analysis and reporting. The system uses artificial intelligence to analyze community feedback in real time. Milieu Cities creates insightful, data-driven reports to help decision-makers at City Hall understand community interests, goals, and values.


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