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Remarks for Budget, January 11, 2016

Thank you all for being here.

Today is an exciting day for London. We’ve worked hard to get to this point. For the past 13 months, your City Council has been focused on this next step. 

Today marks a new beginning for how we do budgeting in the City. Today marks an exciting leap forward for all of us together.

We began with an ambitious goal - to deliver a 4-year Strategic Plan within the first 100 days of taking office – and we achieved that goal.

This is no ordinary Strategic Plan. It’s been designed at a level of specificity that is rare, if not unheard of, among Canadian municipalities. 

This Strategic Plan reflects the hopes, the dreams and the aspirations that Londoners expressed during the course of the 2014 election campaign to the individuals who now sit on this city council.

The Strategic Plan provides this council with a road map which we can follow as we work together to build a better city for all.

And now we embark on the next step in the process - a critical step.

Today, we begin to link the priorities identified within our Strategic Plan with the resources required to make them a reality.

Over the course of the next two months the process will be broken into three main areas of focus.

First we’ll review our base budget – both our City Hall budget and those boards and commissions budgets we fund.

We’ll review the resources required to maintain service levels enjoyed by Londoners today.

Second we’ll review the city-building priorities identified within council’s 4-year Strategic Plan.

These are plans which will improve the quality of life for all Londoners - plans like Shift (our rapid transit plan), our vision for a better downtown, our riverfront and our plans to strengthen our neighbourhoods.

Finally, we need to look for efficiencies every day. By renewing our commitment to Service Review and introducing Lean Six Sigma Strategies, just like many private sector businesses, institutions and some municipalities have done, we will find savings throughout 2016 and in the years to come.

We will comb through our areas of operation to find savings that can be applied to our bottom line. This will enable us to keep annual increases as low as possible and it will allow us to direct capacity from within the base budget towards new initiatives; initiatives which will help us –build a better city for our children and our grandchildren.

In June, council set a target range for our multi-year budget that included annual increases between 2.2 and 2.9 percent.

Since then, we’ve been in touch with many community partners, including the London Chamber of Commerce.

We will continue to have more of these kinds of conversations with many Londoners over the course of the next 2 months.

I think it’s important to note that the Chamber has reminded us again how essential it is for us to avoid setting artificially low numbers which will only create larger problems for all of us down the road. In addition, they’ve recommended that any increase be limited to a range of 2 to 3 percent.

The staff recommendation puts us close to the range proposed by the London Chamber of Commerce. But our work is not finished. In fact, we’re just getting started.

Today, for the first time, we saw the Treasurer’s recommendations. Over the next two months council will review the proposed budget, in some cases line by line, and we will engage with Londoners extensively.

At the end of it all, we will achieve a budget that is responsible, affordable and sustainable.

A budget that makes our community stronger.

A budget that allows us to align our priorities with the resources required to pay for them.

A budget that enables us to build a better City for all Londoners.

I’m happy to answer any questions that you may have.