London Council or the majority of it is attempting another zero percent tax increase. There are also plans for a new 401 interchange ramp system and sprawl out into the hinterland. Plenty of other silliness being done by this city that more engaged people will know about. To be fair the only people who will read this post will be those engaged in local politics. Most of the complacent, apathetic, suburban drones could care less as long as they get to keep $5 a month for their Star Bucks.
Why is this city named for a great European city? London Ontario could actually be improved if it followed some of the direction of London or any thriving European city. This city should be called New Phoenix or Los Angeles North. The obsession with cars, car culture and the endless subsidies to support them is London ON’s greatest mistake. Every kilometer of road in this city is a subsidy to the auto sector and all of it is the noose around London’s neck. In the next twenty years demographics may kill the car as a transportation option in cities. The Baby Boomers are soon to start going blind and senile, their grandkids and great-grandkids are unlikely to interrupt their texting to bother with driving. London will become a great sink hole of crumbling roads and senile people reliving American Graffiti. The first road paved in Ontario was 1840s, the first horseless carriage company was founded in the 1860s there time has past.
London needs a massive investment in public transit, the kind that does not use roads. This will mean abandoning people in the suburbs, the suburbs being where civilization goes to die. London is located in a good spot to become more than a provincial backwater that only makes the news when the mayor is charged. The world is investing in high speed rail; HS2 in the UK, China’s network will someday reach Europe and Japan is increasing the speeds. London could be a transportation hub feeding the Detroit-Quebec City lines with passengers from Godrich, Sarnia, St Thomas etc. People could live in London and work in Ottawa, Montreal or Chicago or vice versa. Business will have more markets to access and separating passengers from cargo will make freight rail more efficient. Cities, regions and countries that neglect high speed and light rail risk being the war torn hells of the next century.
A livable city means having everything nearby; parks, entertainments, commercial, work and access to the rest of the world. Walking should be the primary mode of transportation. One of the proposals for the old hospital sight talked more about parking lots than anything useful, as if London is a giant used car lot. London has no visible evidence that a plan has been followed. Unfortunately we cannot bulldoze the entire city and restart with a plan. We can develop a plan to fix the mistakes made in the past. Mr peas not touching Mr potato is not the way to develop a city it should be more stir fry than old time frozen dinner tray. Pity most of the people deciding how the city looks have one eye on their wallet and the other on their colon.
London could save some money by innovative thinking. Cities when they started out had a forum, agora or the like as a central hub for commerce, discussion and red tape. Every area of London should have a community centre surrounded by parks, playing fields etc. In this should be bingo for seniors, daycare, social services and the local councillor’s ward office. Some wards would have multiple offices perhaps. The public schools should also house the public libraries, one heating bill frees money up for new books, computers and so on. Part of the community area should be set aside for the local light rail station and gardens for people without their own. Each centre would host council meetings on a rotational basis. The main city bureaucracy and mayor’s office would be in the central city forum by the river which would act a city focus.
All forms of creation require destruction. London may have to sacrifice the look of some neighbourhoods to get the Twenty-First Century city it needs to be anything but a collection of cow pens and abandoned buildings. Roads may need to be rubbed out or converted to pedestrian or cycle traffic only. Some neighbourhoods should be kept the cookie cutter post World War II housing, while some should adopt a Paris style apartments or a unique London variation. Not everyone needs/wants the land especially if parks crisscross the city linking to each other.
London, like all Canadian cities need sources of revenue than the old property tax, user fee variety. A percent of all HST/GST collected in any local jurisdiction should automatically go to the local government. This should replace the gas tax which encourages cities to develop archaic auto geared infrastructure to keep the money tap open. The current agenda of zero property tax increases paid for by cuts is unsustainable. Not meeting inflation with increases is a cut without admitting it publicly. Less infrastructure will reduce the cost to any city but choosing what to keep should be framed in the city’s long term and very long term plans. The long term plans should be based on trends, facts and demographic realities.
Got distracted while writing this so that’s it for now. Everyone read Glen Pearson’s book and sacrifice a Starbucks for the greater good.
Someone convicted of corruption was awarded a Diamond Jubilee Medal and nominated by Mayor Fontana? If anyone asks my hometown is a Canadian city not scandaled by corruption or Swansea Wales.