There are three challenges currently open for application, related to water, parking and planning notices.

Challenge 1: Water Usage Data- How can Guelph Water Services enable citizens to detect leaks and reduce their water use?

Customers of Guelph Water Services (GWS) want to protect their homes from leaks and reduce their water consumption. Whether they are driven by potential cost savings or by environmental concerns, GWS believes these consumers need access to accurate, real-time information about their water use.

Guelph Water Services is looking to partner in the development of a smart meter / leak detection solution that is sold directly to consumers.

A successful solution should meet some or all of the following criteria:

  1. Alert homeowners to potential leaks or other water use issues (e.g., unauthorized use)
  2. Targeted at single-family and multi-residential dwellings
  3. Provide timely access to water usage figures
  4. Provide timely access to household performance metrics (e.g., water efficiency ratings, performance against comparable homes / customers)
  5. Sold directly to customers and affordable for a main-stream market (e.g., $100 price range)

Information about water use and performance is currently available to customers as part of the regular monthly billing cycle (meaning it arrives approximately 40days later). The proposed solution needs to provide this information in real-time.

The proposed solution should contribute to the following goals:

  1. Reduce average residential water use in Guelph by 10L per day
  2. Reduce damage and wasted water due to undetected leaks
  3. Reduce billing disputes caused by undetected leaks, particularly for multi-resident buildings
Click here if you’re interested in applying to this challenge.

Challenge 2: Parking – How can we maximize the value of parking space in the downtown?

Parking is an important City asset, vital to the economy and life of downtown. Existing parking is stretched to capacity however, and enforcement of parking competes with other By-Law priorities. Whilst new parking capacity is needed (2 new parkades are planned), maximizing the use of existing and future spaces is critical.

The Economic Development and Transportation Services departments are looking to partner in the development of a solution that enables them to effectively manage parking in the downtown.

A successful solution will meet some or all of the following criteria:

  • Assists customers in locating an available parking space
  • Assists customers in identifying where our existing parking facilities are (both on street and off-street) and the associated cost for those spaces (solution should be able to manage flexible parking rates)
  • Provides Parking staff responsible for the administration of parking facilities (on street and off street) with detailed information – including, for instance, occupancy rates, turnover, duration of stay.
  • Provides By-Law staff with information about when and where payment or time limits have expired and enforcement is required. (Note: the solution should be able to manage daily, monthly and special permit holders)
  • Provides Parking staff with parking ticket statistics and trend analysis
  • Enables staff to quickly and efficiently change how off-street parking spaces are allocated to meet different types of use and different users – e.g., reserve spaces for a visiting dignitary
  • Adaptable to different parking policies (pay and display, free with time limit etc.)
  • Integrate with and leverage existing software systems and hardware used by the City*

* Details of the systems the City currently uses are detailed below. During the period of the Civic Accelerator, solutions should be developed such that they can be integrated with these systems. The work to actually integrate the systems can fall outside the scope of the program.

The proposed solution should contribute to the following goals:

  • Maximize the total number of people that park downtown (this is known as “parking turnover” – maximizing the number of vehicles, per hour, per parking space)

Background and Rationale

Current Parking in Downtown Guelph

Information about Parking in Guelph can be found in the Parking Master Plan . Applicants are encouraged to review the Plan when preparing their proposal.

  • There are currently 600 on-street parking spaces. On-street parking is currently offered for free, for two hours between 9am and 9pm.
  • There are currently 1700 off-street parking spaces. Off-street parking is a paid operation from 8am to 6pm.

Costs of Parking

In addition to the costs of enforcement and maintenance, the City plans to add more parking capacity. This includes new parkades – the City of Guelph currently manages two parkades, plans to build a third (on the existing Wilson Street lot) and anticipates adding a fourth (on Neeve Street).

The City plans to fund some current and future costs of parking through earned revenue from parking (in addition to funds drawn from the City’s main, tax-funded, budgets). Money from parking ticket fines does not return to Transportation Services, and does not directly contribute to the costs associated with maintaining and managing parking in the downtown.

Flexible allocation of parking spaces:

Off-street parking spaces in the downtown need to serve multiple needs and meet significant variation in demand – including visitors, business owners, daily and permit holder parking, City staff, special events, and guests at City hall. City staff need to be able to quickly and efficiently change how off-street spaces are allocated to these different types of use and different users.

Understanding demand, occupancy and turnover rates

City staff need accurate data in order to make decisions about the parking spaces they control. This includes occupancy and turnover rates, but also information about who is parking downtown (where they are coming from, where the driver started their journey), or “mapping” of all parking spaces and the policy governing them (paid, free all day, etc). Understanding patterns in the use of parking is vital to short-term management of existing spaces as well as long-term planning for future capacity needs.

  • For off-street parking, the City is targets occupancy of between 85-90% at any one time (and collects this information), however the City.
  • For on-street parking, the City does not have useful information on the occupancy rates, turnover rates or average duration of stay

Challenges of enforcement

Diligent enforcement of parking helps to ensure turnover (people stay only as long as they need / are willing to pay for). The City’s By-Law officers enforce parking, but they are also responsible for a variety of civic issues (signs, outdoor water use, business licensing, littering, dumping, noise, animal control, and park issues). Depending on the parking process (free with time limit, pay and display, gated etc.,) and associated regulations, enforcement of parking regulations can be time consuming and competes with these other priorities. To discover instances of expired or unpaid parking requires officers to monitor all parking spaces. (Note: paid parking spaces can be checked once to discover expired payments, while free parking spaces must be checked twice to discover cars that have over-stayed their time limit).

Context of Increased Demand

Public parking capacity in the downtown has not increased since 1983 when Guelph had a population of 70,000 (current population 115,000) and as a result, on-street parking and parking lots in the downtown core are at often at capacity. Even with public transit and active transportation efforts, by 2031 the downtown is being planned to support 8,000 people (4x more) and 8,000 jobs (30% more).

The City of Guelph’s Parking Master Plan identifies a range of strategies to manage this growing demand for parking. This includes new parkades – the City of Guelph currently manages two parkades, plans to build a third (on the existing Wilson Street lot) and anticipates adding a fourth (on Neeve Street).

Integration of Existing Systems

The City currently manages all aspects of parking through a number of software systems:

  • Payment for parking is managed with the AutoProcess software system
  • Paid parking spaces use Mackay Pay and Display and Mackay Pay (which allows for payment via a smart phone app).
  • The By-Law department tracks license plates using the AutoVu Licence Plate Recognition System and issues fines utilizing AutoIssue and AutoProcess software programs.
  • Requests to reserve spaces are managed manually by the Traffic and Parking department.
  • Currently, these systems are not integrated.
Click here if you’re interested in applying to this challenge.

Challenge 3: Statutory Notices- How can we make it easier for the public to provide feedback on planning decisions?

Public participation in planning and development decisions improves the outcomes of these decisions, and builds public trust in local government. Municipalities have a legislated responsibility to notify the public about planning decisions (including new developments, re-zoning, changes to Official Plans), but existing notices are often confusing and unclear. Legal and regulatory requirements mean that the information contained in existing planning notices is often highly technical. This information and the ways in which it is commonly displayed make the notices difficult for many citizens to understand.

The Clerks and Planning departments are looking to partner in the development of a solution that makes the public aware of City planning applications and decisions and easy for them to participate in these decisions.

A successful solution will meet the following criteria:

  1. Ensures members of the public clearly understand when and how they can participate in planning decisions
  2. Ensures members of the public clearly understand what is being proposed, where, and when any changes / development would happen
  3. Support planners in collecting and analyzing feedback from the public, and particularly feedback from those most directly affected by the proposed development (e.g., those living closest to the site of a proposed building / zone change)
  4. Contain or link to all relevant legal information – i.e., be compliant with the Planning Act and other relevant policy.
  5. Use consistent messages to reinforce the City’s overall approach to planning and development (e.g. protect natural areas, build attractive, enjoyable neighbourhoods, create successful commercial spaces and enhance Guelph’s quality of life)

The proposed solution should contribute to the following goals:

  1. Increase public awareness and participation in City planning applications and decisions
  2. Reduce the time City staff spend answering common questions about the planning process from the public
  3. Reduce inaccurate information being shared and/or published about proposed plans and/or developments

Background on Public Planning Notices in Guelph

  1. Through the Ontario Planning Act, municipalities are required to notify citizens about pending planning decisions via signs posted at the site, mailing letters to residents in the area from and notices in local print media. In Guelph, all residents within 120m of the site are mailed information and public notices are normally posted weekly in the one remaining print newspaper. In addition to these legally required notices, the City of Guelph lists information on its own website as follows:
    1. The complete 4-5 page application package that goes in the mail to residents in the area is posted to the “Planning” section of the City’s website
    2. Notices about upcoming public meetings are posted to the “News” section of the City’s website
Click here if you’re interested in applying to this challenge.