City of Cambridge 2021 Year in Review

Posted on Wednesday December 22, 2021

Year in Review 2021 banner

At the end of each year, we look back and take stock of all that happened, what we accomplished and consider where we want to go in the next year.

In 2021, there is a lot to reflect on. Despite the critical nature of the sustained pandemic response, City employees continued to work hard to serve the community, to keep essential services going, and to make progress on important priorities. Please see Mayor Kathryn McGarry’s thank you to staff here.

During the first year of the pandemic, the City of Cambridge developed a time-line of events to capture the evolution of the COVID-19 response. This timeline has been updated to include the activities of 2021.

A full report on 2021 activities and initiatives will be presented to Council in February 2022.

The City of Cambridge is proud to serve the community and looks forward to building on these accomplishments together next year. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

2021 Highlights

Key Recreation Projects

  • Continued work on the new Cambridge Recreation Complex and community hub.
  • Council approved the Fountain Street Soccer complex in August, including a partnership with Conestoga College that will contribute $1.5 million towards the project.
  • Council approved an extensive renovation to Preston Memorial Auditorium, including an additional ice pad to make a new twin pad facility.

 Business and New Development

  • High number of building permit applications submitted in 2021.
  • Permits were issued for new residential housing, homeowner renovation projects, upgrades to businesses and restaurants, and new commercial and industrial buildings.
  • New key development projects have been approved in the North Cambridge Business Park, as well as major new investments in the core areas.
  • The City welcomed back film crews in 2021, fielding 60 film inquiries and hosting 40 days of filming.
  • New Core Areas Improvement Plan includes financial incentive programs for businesses and financial aid for building owners to revitalize our historic downtowns.
  • 17 weeks of extended patios and pedestrian-only areas made possible through partnerships with the downtown Hespeler and Galt Business Improvement Areas.

 Creative Community Programming

  • Offered safe outdoor and hybrid events in response to COVID-19 regulations and guidelines, such as Summer Night Live and our award-winning Winter Illumination festival.
  • Offered modified camp programs with lower capacity numbers (133 summer camp programs ran with a total of 1,194 camp registrants). 
  • The Farmer’s Market stayed open on Saturdays, adapting to evolving health and safety requirements so that more than 65,000 people were able to access fresh, local goods from 40 vendors.
  • 300+ photos submitted for the “My Winter City” art exhibit at Cambridge Centre for the Arts

 Enhanced equity and inclusion efforts

  • Creation of a Diversity and Inclusion Communication and Training Strategy.
  • Cambridge Fire Department formed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Team.
  • Clerks division partnered with the Idea Exchange and the Cambridge Rhythm and Blues committee to launch the 2nd annual Rhythm and Blues event with a series of events during the month of February to celebrate Black History Month.
  • City Council suspended rental fees for Indigenous cultural and ceremonial events to support access and use of public spaces in advance of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
  • Continued our journey towards reconciliation and action through education and training for staff, and our participation in the Regional Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group.
  • First Cambridge Newcomer Connections conference held virtually in October in partnership with Idea Exchange and Kinbridge Community Association.

 Future community building

  • First phase of servicing and the construction of the north-south collector road for the North Cambridge Business Park as well as the IP Park Industrial Campus.
  • Completed a Storm Water Management Funding Study, which was a multi-year project that will transition storm water management funding from the tax base to a dedicated rate structure. 
  • Council approved a 40km/hr speed limit pilot project in four neighbourhoods.
  • Reduced Wastewater Collection System Inflow and Infiltration through a new lining system for patching sewer lines which offers quicker response to issues.
  • City of Cambridge, Township of North Dumfries and City of Brantford voted in favour of a merger of Energy+ and Brantford Power. Submitted for Ontario Energy Board (OEB) approval in August 2021.

 Emergency prevention, response and recovery

  • The City’s Emergency Management team not only focused on responding the current pandemic but has continued to evolve the response framework by developing the Emergency Operations Centre Hybrid model.
  • Cambridge Fire Department responded to 6,500 emergency calls and 75 public education events.


  • Cambridge named a “Tree City of the World” for continued management of the City’s urban forest
  • 130 kilometers of trails maintained
  • 6.7 kilometers of road renewal
  • 5 kilometers of pipe renewals (water, sanitary and storm pipes)
  • Purchased 2 electric ice re-surfacers, and planning for the introduction of new hybrid pumper trucks
  • Installed 6 EV charging stations at 17 Cambridge St. to support our growing electric fleet
  • Upgraded 15,600 water meters as part of our Smart Metering Project – for a total of 35,000 to date (87% complete)
  • “Bee City Canada” designation for the City of Cambridge
  • 50% by 2030 GHG emissions reduction target adopted by all eight municipal councils in Waterloo Region


  • Received the E.A. Danby Award (shared with Ottawa, Windsor and Pelham) for the safe and innovative delivery of the 2020 by-election
  • 20 government relations reviews or advocacy initiatives completed
  • 13 new actions approved as part of the Cambridge Connected strategic plan
  • Upgraded existing technology in Council Chambers to deliver virtual and hybrid meetings to the public.


  • 51+ news releases
  • 982+ Facebook posts
  • Received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association recognizing transparency in budgeting
  • Received the 2020 Canadian Award for Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association
  • More than 70,000 customer service calls answered by Service Cambridge and new customer portal launched.


  • 2022 Budget Engagement Survey
  • 18 city projects shared for feedback on Engage Cambridge
  • 260 staff reports submitted
  • 243 delegations heard at Special Council Meetings
  • 34 Special Council meetings streamed live and posted on YouTube