2021 Year in Review

Year in Review logo

The 2021 Year in Review highlights the City’s pandemic response and key milestones achieved by the City as of December 2021.

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 critical services going, and to make progress on important priorities. Please see Mayor Kathryn McGarry’s thank you to staff below.

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

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 as employees, community members and other key partners came together to respond to emergency orders and limit the spread of the virus in our community. This timeline has been updated to include the activities of 2021.

View the Pandemic Timeline


For key highlights of the past year on the City's initiatives and activities, please read the 2021 Year in Review document. View the full report on 2021 activities and initiatives presented to Council on February 15, 2022.

Learn more about the progress that has been made towards the implementation of the strategic plan and the status of key initiatives in the Business Plan.

Community Partnerships

View the 2021 Year in Review - People

View the 2021 Year in Review - Place

View the 2021 Year in Review - Prosperity


Read more about the City of Cambridge's 2020 Year in Review below and view the 2020 Pandemic Timeline.

View the 2020 Year in Review - People

View the 2020 Year in Review - Place

View the 2020 Year in Review - Prosperity


2019 marked another significant and exciting year for the City of Cambridge.  Staff and City Council, along with our community, continued to work hard to make our city the best possible place to work and live in southern Ontario.

A full report was presented to City Council on February 04, 2020 on these accomplishments and initiatives.  

View the 2019 Year in Review.

 Community Wellbeing

Feature: How working together keeps the community prepared.

  • The City’s Ambassador Team continued to build awareness of its work through outreach, partnerships and increased afternoon and evening patrols in downtown cores.
  • We furthered the City’s emergency management planning by developing a business continuity policy and climate adaptation action plan; as well as the City led a full- scale regional emergency response exercise in October (Operation Hazy Day).
  • Building on the work of the community outreach task force, a transition and implementation plan was developed which led to the creation of a new Community Wellbeing Advisory Committee. This volunteer citizen advisory committee will assist the City in promoting and facilitating the safety, inclusion, belonging and wellbeing of Cambridge residents.
  • We enhanced fire services by acquiring two new trucks; improving dispatch and radio communications; and continuing the implementation of the new Fire Station 6. Overall, these enhancements improve response coverage and public safety.
  • Community fire safety education initiatives included installing wraps on the front bay doors at Station 5 to promote fire safety, and a contest with local schools to name the new Public Education Division mascot, Beeper.
  • Youth engagement continues to be a priority for the City of Cambridge. We supported local youth initiatives such as Cambridge OK2BME, including two dances and a meeting hosted at Idea Exchange for youth aged 12 to 19. We also collaborated with the Cambridge Youth Advisory Committee to host a Youth Mix & Mingle event to connect with service providers and community leadership.
  • We continued implementation of our Diversity Inclusion and Accessibility Action Plan, adopted in 2018.
    • Hosting our second ‘Conversation with Purpose’ to encourage community dialogue and action, with 60 staff and community members in attendance
    • Reviewing and updating our Accessibility Policy
    • Offering Indigenous Cultural Competency Training facilitated by the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centre (OFIFC)
    • Adopting the Dynamic Symbol of Access in City-owned properties
    • Jointly hosting a conference centered on equity and inclusiveness with Conestoga College and YWCA Cambridge in October
  • We also held the city’s first Newcomer Day Celebration in September, a special event recognizing and celebrating newcomers, immigrants, and refugees who call Cambridge home that featured a special Canadian citizenship ceremony. The event attracted over 460 people and involved 60 community partners.
  • The City worked with community partners to advance the Cambridge Neighbourhood Table, a made-in-Cambridge grassroots program with a focus on building relationships in our neighbourhoods through supportive connections and promoting social inclusion. In November, this initiative received funding from both the City and Region to begin work on a pilot project to expand to five locations in the community in 2020.
  • We participated in the Cambridge Affordable Housing Roundtable, which works with all levels of government and community groups to encourage the construction and retention of affordable housing in Cambridge. Housing Cambridge, a municipal non-profit housing provider that manages nine separate properties, received final approvals allowing for construction of 55 new units at 195 Hespeler Road to begin in 2020: 40 market rate units and 15 affordable housing units.
  • It was also announced at the 18th National Housing Day on November 21 that the Region has committed to creating 638 new affordable housing units over the next 10 years, including one development in Cambridge.
  • Through the City’s investment in Cambridge’s eight neighbourhood associations, more than $2 million in additional investment was leveraged to support more than 980 programs and events, provide equitable access to 832 recreation programs, and provide life-enriching summer camp experiences for over 1,500 children in the City.
 Governance & Leadership
  • The City continued to consult with the public on a variety of projects, plans and policies, including the Recreation Complex site selection, Transportation Master Plan and Climate Adaptation Action Plan, to make sure the voices of residents are heard on the issues that matter the most.
  • The Corporate Communications division provided regular updates on city initiatives through news releases, social media, e-newsletters and our website.  In total, the City posted 235 public communications, including notices, news posts and releases, to the website and shared more than 1,200 posts on social media.
  • City staff also did outreach in the community and welcomed the community to visit and tour our facilities, including welcoming over 680 members of the public to the Bishop Operations Centre for our 3rd Public Works Open House in May and the participation of city staff in a ‘career carousel’ that educated over 100 students at St. Andrews Public School about careers in local government.
  • We implemented the ‘Tommy & Friends’ speed management initiative, a low-cost yet high-impact way to encourage safe driving in city neighbourhoods.
  • We partnered with other municipalities in the Region of Waterloo to enter the nation-wide Smart Cities Challenge and were shortlisted as a finalist creating new ideas and partnerships that focused on youth in our community.
  • We participated in two Waterloo Region Advocacy Days in February, one at the Federal level and one at the Provincial level. Furthermore, we provided feedback to the Regional Government Review and over 30 other pieces of provincial legislation.
  • The City also hosted professional groups from other municipalities in order to share best practices, including the Network for Municipal Special Event Planners in March and a meeting of Strategic Planners from across the province in June to discuss organizational resilience and planning during times of change.
  • The City completed an update to our development charges bylaw, as required every five years under the Development Charges Act, 1997. This work ensures that growth continues to pay for the services needed to support that growth, such as roads, water, and sewer networks as well as parks, recreation and library services, while minimizing the financial burden to tax and rate payers and ensuring our local development economy remains strong.
  • We prepared an updated water and wastewater long-range financial plan for 2019-2028, as required under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
 Arts, Culture, Heritage & Architecture
  • Arts and culture is a vibrant part of our community and we are proud to promote many exceptional events and programs each year. Events such as the Cambridge Celebration of the Arts, Youth Arts Week, Cookies and Kids, and the Cambridge Scottish Festival appeal to a wide audience and would not be possible without the dedication of many staff members and community volunteers.
  • The City also participated in Culture Days, a national celebration of Canadian culture offered coast to coast to coast on the last weekend of September. There were 24 free activities hosted during Culture Days, including murals, a studio tour, activities at the Farmer’s Market and more.
  • Heritage is an important part of our community identity, and the City continued to support initiatives to tell our unique story. The City hosted its first Heritage Day event at City Hall on May 11, inviting local history groups and community members to participate and raise awareness of our rich heritage.
  • The Cambridge Hall of Fame re-launch on October 10 saw nine new inductees added to the Hall of Fame, from a record 21 nominations.
  • Visitors to the Cambridge Archives have also increased by nearly 20 per cent over 2018.
  • The heritage restoration of the David Durward Centre and repointing of the south façade helped to conserve a significant building in our community, and the Cambridge Mausoleum underwent a roof replacement and restoration of the stained glass windows and main door of the chapel.
  • The Old Post Office also continued to generate positive media coverage, being featured in the National Capital Commission’s Urbanism Lab and Wallpaper* Magazine’s worldwide guide to modern libraries.
  • The City continued offering community events year-round and was proud to have our signature Christmas in Cambridge event recognized by Festival and Events Ontario as one of the top 100 festivals in the province in 2019.
  • Staff supported more than 150 events in a variety of ways throughout the year. We continued to offer a wide range of festivals and programs including free summer events in Civic Square, Concerts in the Park, projection shows at the Old Post Office, Family Day events, the Community Oktoberfest Luncheon and many more.
 Environment & Rivers
Sustainability and environmental stewardship continue to be a priority for our city operations.
  • We continued with the implementation of our corporate Energy Conservation/Green House Gas (GHG) Plan that applies to facilities, fleet and operations. This  includes:
    • The implementation of a Green Fleet strategy that will provide electric vehicles for building inspection staff
    • A new Council-approved ban on the purchase of single use plastics
    • We also began a waste audit to identify areas for additional improvement
  • Parks, Recreation, and Culture has also continued to prioritize energy conservation in 2019 by making improvements to energy use, lighting output and public security at parks and recreation properties. Building on previous work upgrading interior lighting within arenas, pools, and other municipal facilities and buildings, the focus shifted to exterior lighting in 2019.
    • All the walkway lighting along the Grand River’s West side walkways was upgraded to LED lighting, as were all the pathway lights within Soper Park. These upgrades will lead to a savings of 6.29 kW and an estimated 27,500 kW hours, reducing the City’s GHG impacts by 1.37 metric tons and reducing the City’s energy bills by $3,572 per year
    • 95 per cent of the current park pathway lighting has been upgraded to LED. As well, additional lighting was been installed in Riverside Park along a very prominent and well used walkway that leads from the BMX Park parking area to the splash pad area of the park
    • Energy retrofits of the Hespeler Arena and improvements to the pumps and chiller in the David Durward Centre and Centre for the Arts further contributed to energy conservation and GHG reduction
  • Overall in 2019, we achieved 381,539 kW in energy savings and reduced our GHG emissions by over 45 tonnes. More energy retrofits and lighting upgrades are planned for 2020.
  • In November, City Council joined other area municipalities in declaring a Climate Crisis and adopting the “80 by 50” target for an 80 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • We continued and expanded the innovative use of new dog waste collection units to divert waste from landfill and convert the waste into energy. Four of these units were installed in 2019, which will remove the equivalent of 0.36 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere and generate enough energy to power 7.19 homes for a year.
  • The City is a core funder and a proud partner with Reep Green Solutions, an environmental charity that helps people in the Waterloo Region live sustainably. The Reep team now has a “touch-down” desk in City Hall as a way to further our partnership and collaboration. We work closely on a number of sustainability initiatives including ClimateActionWR, neighbourhood-based flood prevention, and a new urban forestry initiative that resulted in the planting of 26 trees on private land.
  • We continued with the Urban Forest Renewal Program and planted 170 new trees on public land (cambridge.ca/forestry).
  • The public was invited to help protect and learn about our natural heritage through events and opportunities such as the community-wide clean up event in April, a sensory-based stroll through Forbes Park with a certified Forest Therapy guide on International Trails Day, and our tree giveaway program. 
  • We are committed to ensuring the future of our community is stable and resilient in times of unprecedented environmental change. In addition to the Climate Adaptation Action Plan and emergency management initiatives, the roads department completed a Flood Wall construction exercise in August in order to test materials and train staff. The exercise consisted of constructing full emergency flood walls on each of the three bridges in downtown Galt to improve emergency preparedness.
  • We also completed over 10 km of new trails, including the Mill Run Trail and Northview Heights Trail projects, and engaged the community on the City’s Cycling Master Plan.
 Parks & Recreation

Feature: How community programs build community connections.

  • The City hosted many free public events, including Family Movie Nights, Whimsical Wednesdays, Community Skate Days, Cheer on the Raptors in Civic Square, and many more.
  • Our summer camps provided over 3,700 children and youth the opportunity to forge new friendships and create wonderful summer memories. New specialty camps such as Archery and Skating as well as a new Leader-in-Training camp helped equip youth with new skills and experiences. More than 70 camp staff and 54 volunteers helped make our camps a success. Summer camps at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts also welcomed over 630 campers.
  • With assistance from an Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities grant, we introduced affordable skate and helmet rentals at Hespeler Arena and Dickson Centre, and increased the number and types of skating opportunities to provide more options for citizens to get out and get active.
  • The City also offered programs for older adults and worked with local partners to support events in the community, such as Cambridge Council on Aging's Music & Mindfulness event.
  • Our seniors volunteers made an incredible contribution of over 22,800 volunteer hours across the 50+ Recreation Centres, Friendly Visiting and Day Services programs.
  • We continued to enhance the amenities in our parks and natural spaces. In addition to ongoing lighting upgrades, the City made numerous improvements including:
    • A new disc golf course in Soper Park
    • A small-dog zone at Maple Grove dog park
    • Improvements to the Sheffield Equipment Storage Building
    • Installation of the Mountview Columbarium
    • Landscaping and paths in the Sunvest Parkette
    • Basketball pad and hoop installed in the Timbercreek Parkette
    • Improvements to Chrisview Park and Centennial Park
    • After significant community consultation, a decision was made to move forward on the Cambridge Recreation Complex project
 Economic Development & Tourism

Feature: Strong foundations for the city of the future.

Significant highlights and investments in Cambridge over the past year included:

  • The sale of the remaining 38 acres of industrial land in the Boxwood Business Campus for more than 300,000 square feet of industrial space.
  • More than 30 business visits to assist in retention or expansion efforts of local companies.
  • Secured investment and worked with private developers to open up more than 400 acres of new employment lands in North Cambridge Business Park.
  • Continued our support of physician recruitment with the Chamber of Commerce.
  • Completed Phase 2 of the Downtown Security Camera program.
  • Conestoga College acquired 25 Reuter Drive, a 250,000 square foot facility to consolidate and grow their skilled trade programs.
  • Assisted Westfalia in establishing their new Roadtrek manufacturing facility.
  • A new Lexus line is being added to the Cambridge Toyota plant representing an investment of more than a billion dollars.
  • In terms of private investment, Phase 2 of the Gaslight District project started which includes Foundry Brewing and a new state-of-the-art event space known as Tapestry Hall, creating the largest event space in Cambridge.
  • Foreign Direct Investment trade mission to Silicon Valley attended by Mayor McGarry and senior staff in November.
  • As a municipality, we opted in to retail cannabis sales in January 2019, creating new opportunities for business development in the community.
  • In July, City Council unanimously approved the creation of the Core Areas Transformation Fund. Over the next decade, this fund will be used for projects that will stimulate growth and investment.
  • More than 25 new businesses opened in our core areas in 2019.
  • It was another great year for the film industry in Cambridge, particularly in our heritage core areas. In total, there were 61 days of filming, generating an estimated economic impact of $1.25 million.
  • Additionally, the City of Cambridge was recognized by film industry clients for exceptional customer service with a nomination to the Location Managers Guild International. This was the first time a Canadian film office has been nominated for this award.
  • Main Street streetscaping; King Street reconstruction.
 Transportation & Infrastructure
We continued to develop a growing variety of transit options and work with the Region of Waterloo on transit-supportive strategies. Significant accomplishments include:
  • Ongoing advocacy efforts for “Cambridge on the GO” and participation in feasibility studies looking at the opportunities for GO transit and LRT service in Cambridge.
  • Integrating local transportation options with the new ION buses operating between Ainslie Terminal and Fairway Station.
  • Cambridge Council support for the recommended route for Stage 2 ION (rapid transit line from Fairview Mall to Galt).
  • In the spring, we hosted a Bike Your City community workshop and launched the public engagement for the Cycling Master Plan update, listening to the public and stakeholders regarding the proposed cycling network and updates. This project is scheduled for completion in 2020.
  • In addition to developing new transportation options, we also worked to ensure community safety. Transportation professionals from across Waterloo Region gathered in October to brainstorm ways to improve the wing side visibility for operators during snow events.
  • We also partnered with CN Rail and Operation Lifesaver on a railway safety campaign in September, unveiling new safety decals at the Hespeler Road train crossing during Railway Safety Week.
  • We wrapped up the City’s first Transportation Master Plan, “Moving Cambridge” (cambridge.ca/movingcambridge). This master plan will guide the management of the City’s transportation system over the next 25 years.
  • With more than 1,400 electric vehicles registered to owners throughout Waterloo Region, we are implementing and expanding the availability of curbside charging stations for electric vehicles in the city. We worked in partnership with Grand River Energy to add stations on Dickson Street and Tannery Street East.
  • We also undertook a number of other infrastructure projects in 2019, including:
    • Provincial approval of the environmental assessment to reconstruct Riverside Dam
    • Completion of the environmental assessment for the Beverly Street underpass
    • Ongoing water, sewer and road infrastructure maintenance and replacement
    • Design work for the future reconstruction of Black Bridge and Townline Road
  • We updated our existing Strategic Asset Management Policy, which is a requirement of the Province, and moved forward on several projects that improve the City’s overall maintenance of assets and infrastructure. This included the roll-out of the next phase of the smart water meter project.

Prior to 2019, the Year In Review information was captured in the Annual Report. For current and past annual reports, visit www.cambridge.ca/annualreport