Government of Canada Provides Small Business Support in Guelph to Help Boost Tourism Sector

February 23, 2023

MusuemMP Longfield and Tammy Atkin from the Guelph Civic Museum


The Government of Canada is committed to supporting tourism in southern Ontario by ensuring local businesses, and the organizations that support them, have the tools they need to position themselves for a strong and resilient economic future.

Today, on behalf of the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph, announced a total investment of $515,190 to support 2 projects in Guelph under the Tourism Relief Fund.

The announcement was made at an event hosted by the Downtown Guelph Business Association (DGBA) at the Guelph Civic Museum.  The DGBA is a beneficiary of the Tourism Relief fund and is receiving a non-repayable contribution of $477,190, under the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF), for Illuminate Downtown Guelph.  Hillside Festival is also a beneficiary and will receive $38,000 which was used to improve the Hillside Inside Festival, which ran from February 3-5, 2023.

Illuminate Guelph began in 2021 and has seen our city light up in recognition of Guelph Black History month, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, National Truth and Rconciliation Day, Ukrainian solidarity in a colourful display of lights on the Wellington Building,  the County of Wellington Building (Old Post Office), Old Quebec Street Shoppes and the Civic Museum. The funding from the Government of Canada will allow the project to be expanded to include additional buildings and partner with the Guelph Black Heritage Society, Guelph Pride, Special Olympics and local Indigenous leaders to continue to promote diversity and inclusion in the city.

Hillside Festival recently held Inside Hillside, a 3-day event in downtown Guelph that emphasizes diversity of culture, musical heritage and style, age, geography, and influence, through showcasing an amazing variety of acts around our city. Previous support from the Government of Canada has allowed Hillside Festival to modernize the festival through technology and ensure the best experience for participants and attendees.  Hillside Festival 2023 will take place July 28-30th with tickets available now through Hillside’s website or at the Bookshelf or Royal Cat Records. Set in a beautiful, accessible conservation area with campgrounds on Guelph Lake, this summer festival is world-renowned as one of Canada’s most progressive, environmentally conscious, non-commercial community celebrations.

Today’s investment reinforces the Government of Canada’s commitment to helping tourism businesses and communities safely welcome back visitors, create jobs, recover from the impacts of the pandemic and prepare for future growth.



“Our government recognizes that tourism is vitally important to the vibrancy and economic health of communities across southern Ontario. I am committed to helping businesses find new and innovative ways to recover and thrive once again. Investments through the Tourism Relief Fund help ensure that the region’s tourism sector will be well-positioned to welcome back visitors today and in the years to come.”

  • The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario


“The Canadian tourism sector continues to be one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We will work with businesses and organizations through these challenging times, ensuring they get support to innovate in their products and services as well as to grow and thrive, all while keeping safety as the top priority. The Tourism Relief Fund helps businesses adapt to welcome back guests safely. It also feeds into a broader strategy to help the sector recover from the pandemic and build an economy that works for everyone. The Canadian economy will not fully recover until our tourism sector recovers.”

  • The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance


“Illuminating the downtown helps to showcase Guelph’s businesses, many located in the beautiful architecture limestone heritage buildings, are a draw for tourists as well as people looking to move to Guelph. The second benefit is providing added security for people accessing the restaurants and cultural and sporting events at the River Run Centre, Sleeman Centre, or taking in live music at the various venues in the downtown core. “

  • Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph


“The DGBA have long sought a new and bold way to beautify our Downtown. We are grateful to the Federal Government for providing the funding to significantly broaden the project. Like us, they see this as an investment in something that will be an ongoing attraction. Iluminate Downtown Guelph is a great opportunity for the community to connect with their city in a safe and captivating way. We know that people who come to see the light installations will also spend time in the beautiful shops and restaurants throughout the area.”

  • Charles Nash, Board Chair


Quick Facts

  • Illuminate Downtown Guelph lights up iconic buildings in Downtown Guelph evenings from sunset to 11 pm.  
  • Hillside Festival began in 1984 with an 11 hour celebration of music in Riverside Park and has continued to grow and expand-even during the pandemic-where they were able to produce an amazing Hillside Festival virtually to attendees, while winning many awards for their green initiatives and contributions to the live music industry.
  • The tourism industry accounts for $39.4 billion of Ontario’s gross domestic product (GDP) and supports more than 820,000 jobs. 
  • The Government of Canada’s $500-million Tourism Relief Fundis helping tourism-oriented businesses and organizations recover from the pandemic and prepare for future growth, with a minimum of $50 million of the Fund allocated to supporting Indigenous-led projects or Indigenous-focused projects. FedDev Ontario is delivering nearly $120 million of the Tourism Relief Fund across southern Ontario. 


Associated Links:



Lianne Cassidy

Executive Assistant to Lloyd Longfield

Member of Parliament for Guelph


Edward Hutchinson

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario


About FedDev Ontario

For 13 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, job creation and growth in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving their productivity, growing their revenues, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.