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Guelph mayor directs staff to reduce 2025 property tax levy, help with housing and homelessness

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Guelph’s mayor Cam Guthrie put his strong mayor powers to use on Wednesday to address homelessness, housing and high property taxes.

The mayor made a few directions to city staff, with the first order to review the 2025 budget and ensure the property tax increase is kept under four per cent.

Guthrie also directed staff to identify real estate opportunities for underutilized city-owned assets, including city-owned surface parking lots, which can be transformed into housing.

Lastly, he wants council to be presented with information about the logistics, costs and processes required to establish a temporary structured encampment site for those currently experiencing homelessness.

"Water, bathrooms, waste pickup, things like that I think we would all wrap ourselves around to try to provide for people that are experiencing homelessness," Guthrie said in an interview with CTV News. "The other thing I'm looking at is actually utilizing units like tiny homes."

He is also requesting information on free transit for high school students.

“I look forward to working with staff, council and the community to move these issues forward in a meaningful and positive manner to ensure that these challenges are addressed," Guthrie said in a statement.

Guthrie adds that he hopes the report will be presented to council as soon as possible.

He first announced his intention to use strong mayor powers to implement these directions at the 2024 State of the City address earlier this month.

The mayor is required to share any directions made under strong mayor powers in writing to notify the city clerk and councillors when he does so, and to make notifications available to the public, subject to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

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