'Guidebook' for the sharing economy from Guelph mayor

Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie has built a ‘Guidebook to the sharing economy’ for municipalities. The series of questions and prompts is designed to guide cities across the province to help balance innovation and policy goals when looking at economic disruptors like Uber or Airbnb.

Mayor Guthrie helped develop provincial toolkit to help cities 'find their balance'

Sharing economy staples like Uber and Airbnb "just showed up" in municipalities, said Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie  has built a 'Guidebook to the sharing economy' for municipalities.

The series of questions and prompts is designed to guide cities across the province, to help balance innovation and policy goals when adopting sites like Uber or Airbnb.

Municipalities 'caught off guard'

A year and a half ago Uber "just showed up" in Guelph with no warning, Guthrie said, which caused a number of reactions.

"How do we want to stir on innovation? How do we want to protect our citizens?" he told CBC's The Morning Edition.

It caused a number of reactions, but more importantly raised questions, he said.

The document, presented Tuesday at the 2017 Association of Municipalities Ontario Conference, is designed to guide the 444 cities in the association to find a balance and to "help them deal with the sharing economy in their own communities," said Guthrie. 

Taking into account economic, environmental and consumer policy goals for municipalities, the guidebook also asks cities to look at whether the inclusion of the sharing economy is for-profit, or mission-driven.

Personalized solution, provincial problem

The guide was a collaboration between the University of Guelph, the Chamber of Commerce, Guelph Civic Labs and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

While universally applicable, it is designed to provide an individual answer for each municipality, said Guthrie.

"Each community will have to weigh it for themselves," he said.

In Guelph, Guthrie is hoping to finalize a policy for sharing economy businesses within the next eight months, and expressed an interest in de-regulating the taxi industry to "level the playing field."

But in the end, he said, the sharing economy comes from one main motivation.

"It doesn't matter what regulations are in place, citizens will always try to find the lowest price."