Project governance

During the project development stage, the City of Guelph and County of Wellington held various workstream roundtables to support decision making, strategic direction, planning and development for the overall initiative and the nine specific projects. Each of these roundtables included broad-based sectoral representation with collaborators from the University of Guelph, Conestoga College, health organizations, food security and social innovation agencies, businesses and school boards, as well as residents, data and technology experts and food producers. These collaborators contributed to the success of the initiative through their extensive networks, service delivery capacity and engagement channels with residents and client groups. Our collaborator-led roundtables co-created project plans and budgets, as well as carried out prototyping experiments.

How we’re structured

Governance structure for Our Food Future

As the figure illustrates, a formalized Smart Cities Office coordinates the overall initiative. The office is provided by the County and supported by core staff from the City of Guelph. This approach allows us to benefit from existing municipal processes, as well as internal financial, legal, communications and project management capacity. 

The Smart Cities Office serves as a primary point of contact and locus of control, providing project management, administration and oversight for the execution of key project milestones and deliverables. The office is responsible for coordinating the governance system, financial administration and performance monitoring/reporting. The Smart Cities Office also coordinates and delivers the overall communication, engagement and management functions, and it guides the implementation of technology and data strategies on behalf of all projects.

Meanwhile, a City/County Advisory Board of Management provides strategic direction and oversight for the Our Food Future initiative, operating under the authority of Guelph City Council. It is responsible for monitoring the implementation of our vision and objectives, addressing the ongoing sustainability of the initiative and resolving issues where required. 

Our Circular Food Economy Advisory Panel provide national and international expert advice to our projects. This expands our knowledge of international Smart City best practices, developments in technology and data, innovation approaches and the latest circular food economy thinking. 

At the project implementation level, we have three workstream tables. These groups are responsible for developing and implementing project plans for each of Our Food Future’s three goals and consist of the program delivery collaborators (organizations contracted or designated to deliver the projects) and core project champions. Project Leads from each workstream report directly to the Steering Committee during monthly meetings. 

Our program delivery collaborators are as follows: 

The Community Steering Table includes core delivery participants, as well as organizations that may not be directly involved in project implementation but play a supporting role in achieving the outcomes of the initiative. This local community coordination table provides advice regarding implementation, resource coordination, community and stakeholder engagement, and outreach. The membership of this multi-sector table reflects principles of diversity and inclusion. 

Food System Resiliency Table 

To assist with post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts, we convened our Community Steering Committee to create a Food System Resiliency Table. The goal of this group is to provide actionable, on-the-ground insights and support to ensure the strength and sustainability of our regional food systems during the current crisis and better equip our food system of the future. This group includes residents and key collaborators from the Our Food Future network. Together, they will provide advice on the regional agri-food sector, action innovative program opportunities advocate all levels of government and provide guidance on how program designs can better meet the needs of community members and businesses.

Meanwhile, our Data and Technology team supports the overall initiative, establishing a technology ecosystem that enables the development of smart solutions. This team is responsible for the Data Utility (page 71), which serves as a public trust to facilitate secure, transparent access to the data shared by Our Food Future collaborators.

Governing principles

Our governance strategy for this initiative is based on a set of core principles:

  • decentralized collaborative governance approach,
  • inclusive innovation – addressing equity issues and systemic barriers,
  • strengthening democratic participation,
  • creating new approaches for engaging key members of the private sector as expert advisors and collaborators, and
  • working openly and transparently.