Welcome to another match up in our Sweet 16 Round of the Strongest Town Competition. We invite you to read the answers that representatives from these two towns provided to questions about transportation, incremental growth, adapting to challenges, and more. Please scroll down to the bottom to vote.


Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Give an example of an incremental project that has happened in your town.

While there have been few legal incremental projects in Brampton, it is estimated that one in four houses with a basement (including townhomes, single family homes, duplexes, etc.) have an illegal basement apartment. This is a response to there being a shortage of one and two bedroom units in the city. Furthermore, many single family homes (SFH) in Brampton have joint households which means two families under one roof, generally two brothers, their family and perhaps their grandparents so many SFH are effectively duplexes

Describe your town's transportation system and what transportation options are available for residents.

The city of Brampton has an extensive bus system. During rush hours the the major routes have a headway of only 7.5 minutes. Ridership has been growing much faster than population; in the past 10 years population grew 37% whereas bus ridership grew 130%. We also have a several stations on a heavy rail line into Toronto.

Describe how residents of your town are actively involved in local decision making.

The city is now approximately 600k people, it has become more difficult for citizens to be involved in local decision making. We also have people below 20 making up a third of the population.

Tell us a story about how your town adapted to a challenge in some way.

In 1948 the was a massive flood in the Etobicoke Creek that utterly devastated the town. In response by 1952 we have manage to channelize it. Back then there were less than 8k people in the whole town.

Is your town financially strong and resilient for future generations? How do you know?

The first massive wave of construction happened approximately 50 years ago so we will see shortly how it handles it. The city has recognized that it must transition off of development charges and has been planning accordingly to increase taxation.

Does you town have a central "downtown" or district? If so, please describe this place.

The city has two downtowns, there is the historic downtown that is less than a square mile and mostly dates from the second half of the 19th century with three story classic downtown buildings from that era in brick as the city was once home to the largest brickyard in the entire world. The other downtown is in Bramalea which was the first master planned satellite community in Canada, this one has a number of medium rise office buildings as was planned originally.

What is your favorite thing about your town?

The city is extremely diverse and has beautiful parks.


Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Entry submitted by: Michael Watt

Give an example of an incremental project that has happened in your town.

Guelph is a uniquely strong and deeply rooted North American agri-food and agri-tech cluster. At its center is the internationally-recognized University Guelph, the research and teaching magnet around which other key players are arrayed: the headquarters of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; major companies; a concentration of industry and producer organizations; leading-edge laboratory, and independent testing and R&D facilities; Conestoga College's Institute for Food Processing Technology; and innovation and commercilization centres. The aggregation of these organizations and the talent pool graduating from the University of Guelph make Guelph an especially attractive North American and Canadian location for leading global agri-food, agri-tech and life sciences firms.

Guelph has launched an incremental, targeted business development approach in attracting and retaining world class companies, scientists and students. Looking to the future, the City of Guelph, working with the provincial government, is moving toward the establishment of a new mixed-use Guelph Innovation District consisting of 436 hectares (1,077 acres) that will centre on higher order green economy and innovation jobs, while capitalizing on integrated energy systems, as part of the Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative. Ultimately, the Innovation District is expected to be home to close to 7,000 people and 9,000 jobs including a new urban village, a mixed-use main street, and research park, all respecting valuable natural heritage areas.

Describe your town's transportation system and what transportation options are available for residents.

Guelph has an excellent municipal bus system including Guelph Mobility Services, which is a specialized shared-ride transit service that provides transportation from accessible-door-to-accessible-door within the city limits of Guelph. Service is provided on wheelchair accessible buses and, when needed, contracted taxi services.The main hub is cleverly located downtown beside the regional buses and trains for commuters. Guelph has an extensive bicycle lane network, car sharing, a city-wide recreational trail network, taxis and active Uber drivers. Students at the University of Guelph can use their valid student cards to travel on Guelph Transit. The best part of Guelph's transportation system is its walk-able neighborhoods

Several years ago Guelph launched a study to develop a Best Practices framework by studying Community Engagement Policies in other Provincial, National and International cities. Based on that study and its findings, Guelph has developed and implemented its own Framework of Guiding Principles for Community Engagement.

Describe how residents of your town are actively involved in local decision making.

Several years ago Guelph launched a study to develop a Best Practices framework by studying Community Engagement Policies in other Provincial, National and International cities. Based on that study and its findings, Guelph has developed and implemented its own Framework of Guiding Principles for Community Engagement that it has posted on its website and that it follows closely. These principles are inclusive and include early involvement, access to decision making, a coordinated approach, transparency and accountability, open and timely decision communication, mutual trust and respect, and evaluation and continuous improvement. Guelph residents are actively involved in the decision making process for policies, plans, strategies, programs and services, for the purpose of making decisions that are more informed and reflective of public concerns and values. Council and staff involve the public in all planning applications, the development of secondary plans, focus groups, brainstorming sessions, town hall meetings and any other policies, plans, strategies, programs and services, for the purpose of making decisions that are more informed and reflective of public concerns and values.

Tell us a story about how your town adapted to a challenge in some way.

The City of Guelph has taken a very proactive, innovative approach to solving complex city problems. It identified three specific challenges related to water, parking and planning notices. It is pursuing what can be described as Municipal Tech and has created a Civic Accelerator in order to embed entrepreneurs, startups, students and companies with city staff managers and departments in order to find innovative tech solutions to municipal issues. A second objective of this initiative is to be able to create commercially viable companies through this process. The Civic Accelerator was developed in conjunction with the Guelph Lab, the City of Guelph's civic innovation partnership with the University of Guelph. The Accelerator is being run by the City of Guelph in partnership with Innovation Guelph, the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, Canada's Open Data Exchange and the U of G's Center for Business and Student Entrepreneurship (CBaSE).

Guelph was just listed as the #1 City in Canada as the best place to find a job and has the second lowest unemployment rate nationally at 4.5%.

Is your town financially strong and resilient for future generations? How do you know?

Guelph has a broad economic base - from manufacturing, agriculture, technology, agri-tech, bio-tech, University of Guelph, health sciences, research and development and a robust small business community. Guelph was just listed as the #1 City in Canada as the best place to find a job and has the second lowest unemployment rate nationally at 4.5%. Through recent innovations and cooperation between government and business we have managed to widely broaden our economic base and attracted many more high tech jobs and businesses to our community. Guelph is ranked in the top 2 in agricultural biotechnology clusters in Canada. It is strategically located in the heart of Southern Ontario and brings together all the advantages of location, resources and quality of life, fostering the growth of life science, agri-food and biotechnology companies and associations. It is a mecca for agri-business, biotechnology and environmental enterprises, in Guelph you will find the world renowned research and development facilities of the University of Guelph, and a cluster of government and industry support services.

In recent years, Guelph has attracted national and international attention for a number of bold actions including the Community Energy Initiative (CEI), among the first energy plans of its kind in North America; Guelph Wellbeing, which aimed to improve quality of life based on Canadian Index of Wellbeing indicators; and downtown renewal efforts that have to date attracted $85 million in private investment after decades of relative stasis.

Guelph’s downtown resembles a European city center, complete with squares, broad main streets, and narrow side streets. It is bustling during daytime for business, cafes and shopping and has a vibrant nightlife with many excellent restaurants and pubs.

Does you town have a central "downtown" or district? If so, please describe this place.

Guelph's downtown resembles a European city center, complete with squares, broad main streets, and narrow side streets. It is bustling during daytime for business, cafes and shopping and has a vibrant nightlife with many excellent restaurants and pubs. We have a strong, active downtown board that advocates for local businesses and promotes the downtown.

From January to March they are run Music Weekends which includes over 20 live performances every weekend at various downtown venues. In St George's Square we have free live outdoor performances every Friday during the summer. The Guelph Jazz Festival takes place over 4 days in September. Art on the Street transforms the downtown into one big outdoor art gallery. The Guelph Film Festival takes place in November. The recent construction of Market Square, with its spectacular water feature is used as a skating rink in the winter and a splash park during the summer months. Downtown is very safe both day and night with Guelph boasting the lowest crime rate in the country. It has a community library, Guelph Farmer's market on weekends and beautiful stone heritage buildings. The Sleeman Sports and Entertainment Center hosts our local championship OHL hockey team, The Guelph Storm. The River Run Performing Arts Center is located downtown overlooking the beautiful Speed River. It's the perfect venue for theater, live music, dance ensembles and comedians. The Guelph Youth Music Center is a unique facility that educates, enriches and fosters the development of our youth through music and the arts.

What is your favorite thing about your town?

The people. Guelph has an amazing culture and a great vibe. We are friendly, inclusive, municipally and environmentally active and welcoming to both newcomers and immigrants. We are a vibrant community of over 125,000 people and Guelph is ranked among the top ten places to live in Canada. In 2009 Guelph was named Canada’s safest city, one of the country’s smartest communities, and Canada’s volunteer capital. The City of Guelph is rich in culture, architecture, parks and riverside green spaces. It's a small city with big city amenities. I love the farmer's market - its a great meeting place with locally grown food, baked goods, fresh meat and other local delicacies. Guelph has an amazing extensive recreational trail network. The Boathouse by the Speed River is wonderful place to meet for ice cream and canoeing. We have many wonderful independent coffee shops downtown. There's nothing better than having a pint on one of downtown Guelph's many great patios.

There are so many free and planned activities each week. We've enjoyed taking the kids to the splash park in the summer and skating outdoors in the winter. Guelph has so many entertainment options - including theater, live bands, Hillside Festival, Jazz Festival, Art in the Street, independent movies and sports. We have great schools and parks and one of Canada's best colleges and universities. We are open to business and close to the world class city of Toronto. There is no better city to live, work, play, learn and raise a family than the City of Guelph.


Voting is now closed.