Two years ago, almost to the day, Londoners elected a young, energetic and almost entirely new City Council.
As we approach this important milestone, it’s worth reflecting on what we have accomplished working together as a council and what priorities we should focus on moving forward.
Recently, Council voted unanimously to endorse the London Plan, a city building guide for the next 20 years.
London is the largest city in Canada without a rapid transit program. That’s why Council endorsed a $500-million plan for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that will connect neighbourhoods with urban centres and make it easy for Londoners to move about the city.
When we talk about growing inward and upward this Council has the numbers to back it up. Within two years this council has approved a total of 1,622 new apartment style units, all of which have been reviewed to ensure they positively contribute to our vision for London and will attract further interest and investment in the core. We’re seeing cranes in the sky in our downtown for the first time since 2012.
As a comparator, over the course of the entire term the previous council approved about half the number of units to downtown in double the amount of time. Within a four year period, the previous council added 684 residential units, 130 nursing home units and 78 retirement units.
And, we still have two years to go.
We are making great strides with our plans for Dundas Place, a flex street that will transform a large stretch of downtown into a pedestrian-friendly walkway, attracting businesses and customers alike.
We have renewed important relationships with our First Nations neighbours and forged new ones by welcoming thousands of Syrian refugees to our city. We are the 11th largest city in Canada, yet there are only four cities that welcomed more Syrian refugees than London.
However, it is clear that there is still much work to be done.
Our “London For All” plan outlines 112 recommendations that focus on eliminating poverty within a generation. Over 1,000 Londoners participated in the development of this report - it’s something we should be proud of even as we recognize there is so much to be done.
Right now, there are 2,550 households in London waitlisted for social housing, with the average wait time being 1.4 years to get into a safe, secure home. That’s why we’re working closely with our federal partners to develop a National Housing Strategy that works for everyone.
Recently, we had a frank discussion about racism in our community. I heard loudly and clearly from people who experience everyday systemic racism that this is a problem, a big one in London. This needs to change.
We spent the first one hundred days of this term developing a Strategic Plan and later in the first year in office approved a four year multi-year budget. Essentially, we identified our priorities as a council and then linked them with the resources to make them a reality.
There is no question that as a council we have our work cut out for us. As a group, I am confident that we can accomplish everything we’ve set out to do and more.
Two years into the term, it’s about remembering why we were elected: to work together, to focus on the big ideas that will move our community forward and, in turn, build a better city for all.
Mayor Matt Brown
Visiting London Christian Elementary School
Events and Occasions:
Attended Royal Canadian Legion Provincial Command Conference at Victory Branch Legion
Light the Night Walk for Leukemia & Lymphoma in Victoria Park
City of London United Way 5K Run/ 2K Walk Fundraiser
Tour of Christian Elementary School
Met with members of the Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Oppression Advisory Committee
Met with members of Progress London
Met with Michael Lerner of Lerner's Law
Attended the Property and Finance committee for the Western Board of Governors
Attended Big City Mayors’ Caucus meeting in Ottawa with Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau and Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna
Appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance with Mayor Iveson of Edmonton, Alberta, Mayor Mark Heyck of Yellowknife, Yukon Territories, and City Officials from Vancouver, British Columbia to discuss infrastructure funding
Attended Long Service Award Ceremony for local RCMP
Lunch with Peter McMahon and Mike Dale
Attended the London District Business Hall of Fame Ceremonies & Gala
Attended London & Middlesex Housing Corporation Grand Opening
Met with Ian Wilcox and Chris Harrington of the Upper Thames Conservation Authority
Met with Western Students: Jessica Afara & Moez Tahir to discuss food security in the London community
Speaking to the Senate Finance Committee about Federal infrastructure funding