The City of Guelph and Wellington County’s joint submission for the federally-run Smart Cities Challenge came out on top on Tuesday as one of two winners in the under 500,000 residents category, clinching $10 million in prize money.

The challenge aims to empower communities to “adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology,” a description from Infrastructure Canada says.

The joint city-county submission called “Our Food Future” was unveiled in April 2018 and it featured a new economic model designed to increase access to affordable and nutritious foods by 50 per cent.

The city-county effort also outlines plans to establish 50 new circular food business and collaboration opportunities as well as increase revenues by 50 per cent as a symptom of reducing or using food waste in new ways.

Video outlines the city-county submission.

We are proud and honoured to have been selected from amongst so many worthy and deserving communities,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie in a statement confirming the win released by the city.

“This award is a testament to the great work of everyone who contributed to this team effort. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for this significant investment in food security and innovation.”

“Guelph-Wellington is rich in agriculture. This win provides both the City and the County the opportunity to strengthen our urban-rural partnership and lean into our strengths in food innovation,” the county head said.

Wellington Warden Kelly Linton added that “we look forward to working with our community to move this important work forward.”

What’s next?

City and county project coordinators will spend the summer building the leadership and governance structure, creating a detailed project plan and establishing a Smart Cities Office to act as a home base.

A progress update will be provided to stakeholders and the community in fall 2019, officials said. For now, those interested can receive more information about Guelph’s “Our Food Future” on its website.

The other $10 million winner was communities in Nunavut. The town of Bridgewater in Nova Scotia won the small population $5 million prize and Quebec’s Montreal won the $50 million large-sized city category.

Reporting by Eli Ridder.