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Guelph Public Space Use Bylaw Off the Table

Following the City of Kingston’s decision to retract its appeal, the City of Guelph has decided to halt progress on a bylaw aimed at governing the use of public spaces within the city.

This development was communicated in a report to the city council, indicating that there will no longer be updates or advancements regarding the initially proposed bylaw that sought to establish restrictions on the locations of encampments.

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The decision to put a stop to the bylaw’s advancement was influenced by the retraction of an appeal concerning a similar bylaw in Kingston, which had previously been declared unconstitutional by the Superior Court of Justice.

During a prolonged special council meeting in February, which saw extensive input from various delegates, the council had decided by a vote of 10-3 to postpone the bylaw pending the outcome of the court’s decision on the Kingston bylaw appeal. However, with the appeal now retracted, any bylaw introduced by Guelph faces a high likelihood of being invalidated by the Superior Court of Justice.

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According to a report authored by Doug Godfrey, the general manager of operations, without the appeal going forward, there is no new evidence to assist the City Council in making an informed decision regarding the bylaw. After consulting with the city’s legal team, it was concluded that revisiting the public space use bylaw would be unproductive at this juncture.

The original intent behind revisiting the bylaw was to consider the impacts on homelessness, business interests, and the general public, striving to find a balance that addresses the needs of all community members by effectively managing community spaces.

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Moreover, plans to engage the public for feedback on the bylaw have been postponed. Nevertheless, the city staff are formulating a strategy to consult with individuals with direct and ongoing experience of homelessness as instructed by the Mayor. This initiative is part of a broader effort to inform the council on matters concerning Temporary Structured Encampments (2024-B4), which will shape future discussions and decisions on this issue.

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